Three unopposed Sequim City Council candidates got to share their opinions in a town hall on Oct. 9 that touched on the talk of the town — a proposed Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) clinic, John Wayne Marina ownership and affordable housing options.
Participants included incumbent William Armacost, seat No. 1, Troy Tenneson (No. 6) and Tom Ferrell (No. 7) speaking in the council chambers to a room of about 26 city residents.
Moderator Donnie Hall, with the Independent Advisory Association, said the council’s fourth candidate, incumbent Jennifer States (seat No. 2) wasn’t able to participate and, in fairness, Hall didn’t invite her write-in opponent, Sarah Kincaid, to participate.
John Wayne Marina
On the workable options for city council and ownership of the John Wayne Marina:
• Ferrell said it’s going to be a big cost, and that he’d want to ask citizens what they’d want to see at the marina property if the city were to take ownership.
“I don’t want to commercialize it and have some outrageous place over there,” Ferrell said.
“We do have some opportunity over there. I’d ask what your (residents) shopping list is. We have a gem here.”
• Tenneson said the marina should remain public, leaving two options: the Port of Port Angeles can maintain ownership or the city can take it on.
• Armacost said it’s unfortunate there’s a lot of deferred maintenance costs at the marina, but the city’s Shoreline Master Program maintains that it remain a public entity.
He said it could be a great opportunity if the city were to find the right partner to make it work financially.
“At the worst-case scenario, we’re going to have a beautiful park,” Armacost said.
On the risks and benefits of ceding operations of the marina to a private operation such as the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe:
• Tenneson said the long-term costs are a concern to him, but “it’s nothing the city of Sequim staff with some ingenuity can’t provide for.”
“We’ll do whatever we need to do to maintain it as a public asset,” Tenneson said. “When there’s a will, there’s a way.”
• Armacost said it’s important to check with potential stakeholders about their motives while considering possible partnerships.
“The opportunity is great,” he said. “We have to look at every partner on the table. We as a city have never run a marina. It’s imperative that we work with someone with that knowledge.”
• Ferrell said many developments throughout the country show a public-private relationship doesn’t necessarily mean ceding control, and that a developer can leave public land open.
“If you want to maintain the level activity down there, we’re going to have to come up with some money,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you have to turn it into some cold-hearted business package. There’s ways to carve this up. We need to keep an open mind.”
On delegating funds for the marina and the possibility of asking residents for support:
• Armacost said the project will take big money with creative options and that he’d question putting a bond vote to residents.
He said he’s also concerned about the aging demographic of boaters, saying Baby Boomers love it while young voters may not think it’s in their “wheelhouse.”
• Ferrell said one option would be getting rid of the items that require massive capital.
“You just have to think outside the box with this,” he said.
Ferrell would also be reluctant for a bond issue, but he’d consider partnering with the tribe in some capacity as an investment partner, so long as they don’t assume ownership.
• Tenneson said the marina is a valuable asset, and he’d be willing to “spend more on things I care about and less on things that are less important” and begin pooling funds for future costs there.
He said h’d also want to speak with the Wayne family to see if they’d be interested in partnering in some capacity.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
On city council’s say about an outside agency’s funding within city limits:
• Ferrell said the city council has no say in the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s funding for the proposed MAT clinic and that its grant is earmarked for tribal funding.
“We the City of Sequim has no play in (funding) other than it’s our police force, our fire, our traffic, streets and everything. With any structure, we have a play in it,” he said.
Ferrell said there are federal milestones the tribe must achieve regardless of city involvement.
“If it ends up in city limits or elsewhere, I think the control will be there to make sure things run smoothly,” he said.
• Tenneson said he thinks the MAT is a bad idea for medicinal reasons and safety concerns.
“In my experience as a paramedic and talking to numerous homeless and addicted people outside of the uniform, something like this is not helping those people,” he said. “I’d make the case it’s doing the opposite.”
Tenneson said he believes it’s the city’s business to be involved.
“I think Ron Allen has been doing a really good job with the tribe and used to getting his way for a long time,” he said. “For me sitting in the back watching how this has progressed, I think he is kind of the bully.
“I think the city of Sequim should be prepared to fight to resist this in our town. If necessary, as far as the permitting process — we should be prepared to take this to a court of law if necessary.”
• Ferrell replied to Tenneson, saying the question wasn’t about supporting the MAT or not.
“That’s different from this process of looking at it objectively and understanding more detail,” he said.
“I personally think it’s a bad location (and) from my not anecdotal experience, it seems like it works for a lot of people. That’s all I know, from what I research.”
• Armacost said there are a lot of strings attached to the tribe’s federal grant for the facility, but that he believes voters should have a say whether or not the center comes into Sequim.
“The physical size and scope of the project based on current data is way out of line,” he said. “It’s trading one addictive product for another.”
On steering the MAT clinic elsewhere:
• Ferrell said he’s unsure why the tribe wouldn’t consider other locations outside of town.
“(It) seems like a more remote location would make more sense,” he said. “If I had the cooperation of (OMC) and (Jefferson Healthcare) and saw the disruption it was causing in the community, I’d consider another location.”
• Armacost said the location would be next to Sequim’s core shopping, and it would cause apprehension for locals to go to nearby stores.
“If you look at treatment centers, not a dose-and-go, but a recovery center with intake for 28 to 60 days, the successful long-range facilities are in remote areas,” he said. “They understand nature has a profound impact on individuals.”
• Tenneson said he is “zealous to make a stand (against the MAT) but not unaware of legal ramifications.”
He said, “I think there are an overwhelming amount of our citizens, including myself, who think we should insert ourselves more in this matter.”
Tenneson suggested working together with the tribe and other entities to build a hospital instead.
On Sequim’s infrastructure and city council’s role:
• Ferrell said the city is doing fill-in development to resolve housing issues at all levels.
“Infrastructure hasn’t come up as an issue (with the planning commission where he serves) because we tend to keep up with that,” he said.
Ferrell said Sequim is perfect for high quality, 1,100- to 1,200-square-foot row homes that young owners could move into and develop their careers.
• Tenneson said Sequim has a need for well-built, entry-level homes particularly for young families and the elderly.
“That’s a market need not being met,” he said.
Tenneson added that “roads are usually a good investment.”
• Armacost said it’s important to build equity with infrastructure in Sequim because a city study showed 88 percent of its labor force is in the service industry. He emphasized the importance of providing entry-level homes to rent or buy because more service tradespeople will be needed.
Armacost also said city staff have heard from potential developers about its permit costs being too high, so “we have to take a strong look at how that works.”
“I understand (financial) needs need to be met; however, I believe we can get creative with how we deal with that,” he said.
On a hearing examiner’s role in operations, particularly land use issues:
• Armacost said he favors using the city’s in-house attorney for legal matters over a possible hearing examiner despite an increased workload. He said many of the cities that use a hearing examiner don’t employ a full-time attorney.
Armacost said the additional expense of a hearing examiner is too much “knowing we have great talent in house. I feel we can adequately handle that.”
• Tenneson said using a hearing examiner is a bad idea and that it deters city councilors from digging deeper into details and decision-making.
• Ferrell said he’s heard from attorneys that using a hearing examiner “usually hold back progress.”
He added, “I have no problem this city council and planning commission can keep us out of hot water with the legal advice we have available.”
On the Independent Advisory Association:
Hall said the association, which he and Jim McEntire serve as principals for the group, provides basic training for candidates (including Armacost and Tenneson), and various other levels of support for candidates.
He said they are considering other events such as town halls in contested races too, while delving deeper into issues.
For more information, contact Donnie Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.