Editor’s note: this continues a series of interviews with candidates up for five Sequim city council seats in the Nov. 2 General Election. This week it’s Rachel Anderson, incumbent, and Daryl Ness up for Position 4. Each candidate answers the same four questions, paraphrased from the Independent Advisory Association’s cancelled forum on Sept. 1. Interviews were done in-person, over the phone and email.
Position 4: Rachel Anderson, incumbent; Daryl Ness
• What do you like in the City of Sequim and what needs to change?Anderson: “I feel that the City of Sequim is extremely fortunate to have professional and knowledgeable staff and employees helping keep our city running smoothly day to day. Everyone works so hard and they all work effectively and efficiently as a team.
“There are a couple of big changes I would like to see: The first change is more affordable housing! The second change is all of our City Council being more actively engaged in the local community and actively responding to citizen’s concerns and questions. I’m told quite often that councilor (Brandon) Janisse, councilor (Tom) Ferrell and I are the most responsive, but we need seven out of seven responsive council members, not three out of seven.”Ness: “From my perspective, one of the strengths of the city is it’s financially in really good shape. Not many cities in the U.S. can say their budget is actually covered and they have some excess. City staff have done a nice job handling finances.
“The thing that needs to change is that we need to make some investments in our community. We need to figure out how to get some affordable housing. Our fees and some of the costs associated with hookups are actually preventing some people from coming in here and building affordable housing for people to come here and work who are really in need.
“Look at our restaurants: we have people closing for a day or two because they don’t have enough help. We’ve got to improve that.”
• How has your career and personal life prepared you for a role on the Sequim city council?
Anderson: “I grew up in an alcoholic and abusive household. The experience was tough, but it taught me that I want to take care of others with everything that I have. Everyone deserves to feel safe and cared about.
“I was a stay-at-home mom for about five years and then became extremely active in our community through Head Start Policy Council Chairperson (2017-present), OlyCAP Board Member (2020-present), Sequim Education Foundation Board Member (2020-present), and Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market Interim Board President (2021-present). I feel that each role has taught me how to work cooperatively as a team member while allowing me to make a positive impact on our community.
“My time at Head Start has really taught me the importance of creating, amending, and following policy for the safety and betterment of a community. Being an OlyCAP board member has taught me to use my voice for those that need help, like low-income families.
“Since becoming a Sequim Education Foundation board member, I’ve been able to be a part of a team that raises and donates funds to teachers and students in need. My role on the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market board is still fresh, but it’s taught me the kind of leader I want to be — collaborative and supportive.
“I was appointed to Sequim City Council in February and have earned my Certificate of Municipal Leadership and my Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership. I feel the most vital skills for a city council member are active listening and the ability to make informed decisions. It’s extremely important to make decisions for the good of the people of the present and the future, instead of making decisions that will benefit a small group.”
Ness: “I started out on the railroad in 1978, and I worked union craft positions. I’ve worked all my life starting out as a paperboy and at gas stations. Hard work has paid off for me.
“After I worked those craft positions, I ended up in a management job and those have led me to executive positions on the railroad where I got to manage a lot of capital funds and a lot of people. I was pretty good at getting things done.
“Whether it took money, people or took ways to solve something, I was the guy who could fix problems. I’m retired now and willing to put myself out there for the City of Sequim.”
• What can we learn from the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic controversy?
Anderson: “I think one of the most important takeaways from the Medication Assisted Treatment Clinic controversy is how harmful and destructive disinformation can be. Another key takeaway is the importance and benefit of wrap-around services for the physical, mental, and emotional health of our citizens that are in need of stability.”
Ness: “I don’t know the ins and outs because I wasn’t on the council. I felt that there were two different sides and I don’t know if things were communicated well. If I was on council, I think we should stay neutral, find out what the information is and find out what the people want and support the people. We should try to keep our opinions out of it.”
• How do you propose to improve the City of Sequim’s transparency as a city councilor?
Anderson: “City council members are elected, or appointed, officials meant to represent people in the community. I believe a way to increase transparency within government operations is for city council members to be actively responsive to citizens and striving to be role models within the community while valuing how hard city staff and employees work.”
Ness: “I’m funding my own campaign and the reason I’m doing that is because I want to work for the people who are here. We should only do what the people of Sequim want us to do. Whatever that majority is, we’ve got to figure out how to communicate with them and make sure we’re on the right track and stay neutral. (As for personability), I’m also easy to talk to, and I’ll talk to anybody.”