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Sequim Speaks invites opinions


Some members of Sequim Speaks are, from front left, Sue Erzen, Sue Weidemeir, Halina D’Urso, Mary Moore, Dick Petit; middle left, Richard Tarbuck, John D’Urso, W.W. King, Mike McAleer, Albert Freiss; back left. Patrick Thomson, Mary Miller, Marc Lawrence and Bill Jensen.  Photo by Julie Lawrence

After six months, Sequim Speaks members want you to know they are ready for your input.

The first item on its unofficial agenda is publicity.

"We need to make the public aware that we exist," said Sequim Speaks vice chairwoman Sue Erzen.

Sequim Speaks, a citizens advisory group for the Sequim City Council, seeks out problems and solutions related to the city and communicates those ideas.

The members worked on forming the group since October with aid from city attorney Craig Ritchie.

'Our learning year'

"I'm not frustrated that things take time," said Sue Weidemeir, Sequim Speaks chairwoman.

"This first year is our learning year. It'll be a lot easier for those in the future."

The group created fliers and posters in time for the Irrigation Festival, May 1-9, where they'll have tables at Guy Cole Center in Carrie Blake Park and in front of U.S. Bank.

Weidemeir said they are reaching out with their fliers to home associations, neighborhoods and nonprofits' newsletters.

They hope to have a presence at the Sequim Open Aire Market throughout the summer.

Reach further

Sequim Speaks' purpose is to create two-way communication between the public and the city council and to serve as a sounding board for other agencies like the Sequim Planning Commission.

"I think this was created to expand their reach," Erzen said.

"It's grassroots," Weidemeir said.

"We hear (the public's) views and about what's happening in Sequim. Our objective is to listen."

The group meets from 6:30-8 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St., Sequim.

Informal format

Members say meetings are informal and can be less intimidating than city council meetings.

"If you didn't want to go to city council, then you can go to us," Erzen said.

"We are a conduit."

Any Sequim issues are welcome, with no time limit for presenting ideas, members say.

"We can bring up ideas, but our main function is to listen to the people," member Mary Miller said.

"Issues depend on what committee members bring in from the community, and they'll be added to the agenda."

Consensus, then council

If the group reaches consensus on a topic, it will contact the city council, and Weidemeir will speak on the issue at a council meeting.

So far the group hasn't spoken with the city council about any issues.

Council and city staff gave a presentation on impact and mitigation fees so they'd be informed, Erzen said.

"Because our group was still in the formative stage, it's pretty informal how we would have passed that information on," she said.

Erzen feels impact fees are one example of how the city council reached out for input without her group.

"I think they did a lot of outreach," Erzen said.

"They had a lot of informational meetings and met with community groups and stakeholders."

Council's creation

Weidemeir said the council established the development of Sequim Speaks as a priority for 2010-2011 at its annual retreat earlier this year.

"The current council initiated the group, and we are committed to helping it succeed," said Mayor Ken Hays.

The city council and City Manager Steve Burkett are contemplating topics for

Sequim Speaks and the city to work on jointly.

Sequim Speaks represen-tatives are from four quadrants, similar to Sequim School District's boundaries that extend beyond the city limits.

Erzen said many people who live outside the city limits identify downtown Sequim as their community.

Members mostly live within the city limits, as mandated.

Terms are set for one year for appointed members and two years for those agreed upon by consensus of the city council.

Members are not being solicited at this time but applications are available for future consideration at Sequim City Hall, 152 W. Cedar St., and online at www.ci.sequim.wa.us.

Contact Sequim Speaks at speaks@ci.sequim.wa.us with comments, concerns and/or issues.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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