New city manager sets priorities

Bush’s plan: parking, parks and roads for the rest of 2015; plus Random Questions


Sequim Gazette

More than two weeks in and Sequim’s new city manager, Charlie Bush, 40, has his priorities set for the remainder of the year — investigating a possible proposal for a Metropolitan Parks District, forming the city’s 2016 budget highlighting road projects and finding safer parking at the Albert Haller Playfields.

Bush started with the city on Aug. 17, following the retirement of Steve Burkett on June 30, and sat in on his first Sequim City Council meeting one week later.

There he heard some of the background on the playfield situation.

The Sequim Family Advocates recently revisited their 2011 plan to add more parking at the Water Reuse Demonstration Site due to safety concerns. Despite city councilors approving plans in 2011, the city’s Parks and Recreation Board denied the proposal in June due to a conflict in the city code that states that gravel parking is not allowed.

Advocates said the decision forced them to abandon the project but at the Aug. 24 meeting city councilors asked Bush and city staff to pursue options.

Bush said city staff are currently “looking at other options (from the original proposal) and then we’ll sit down with them to figure out all the pros and cons and ultimately take them all back to council.”

As for a city-proposed Metropolitan Parks District, following SARC’s failed proposal in August, Bush said he is using the opportunity to get to know people while seeking potential partnership opportunities with community groups that may want to be involved in a proposed district, such as the Shipley Center.

“There are a lot of new opportunities that will come out of the process but I’m also looking for the right combinations that could work and better the community from a parks and recreation opportunity,” he said.

“Council asked for an MPD but we’re looking at other options, too. I don’t know what will come of that. There may be a few projects to spin off from that.”

This week, city officials are meeting with Clallam County officials and other stakeholders to discuss the proposal’s possible plans, he said.

The filing deadline for a February 2016 special election is Dec. 11.

Bush also comes into the city’s budget season as he estimates its first draft is about 80-85 percent done.

He doesn’t anticipate making any cuts this year but street issues remain a top priority for the city council, he said.

“Council members are talking about a number of those (street projects) and the Transportation Benefit District and how we spend our dollars on street maintenance and capital projects,” Bush said.

“Council also has goals to create a more sustainable funding system for streets, which relates to our budget as to what we’re proposing for 2016.”

City to city

The biggest issue cities have faced that Bush has worked in is making up deficits left by state initiatives passed in the early 2000s.

“It’s gradually gotten worse for cities in state funding each year with the recession and things like the McCleary Decision, and I’m not judging that in anyway,” he said. “Resources have gotten tighter. It’s a commonality in every city and the general fund is hit hard.”

Bush comes from the City of Issaquah where he’s worked since May 2012, first as deputy city administrator through March 2014 when he took on the development services director position.

Prior to Issaquah, he worked four years (2008-2012) in Prosser as its city administrator and nearly six years for Bellevue splitting his time as the intergovernmental management analyst and later the assistant to the city manager. (2002-2008). He also worked for the Cities of Glendale and Phoenix in Arizona.

Why government?

Bush said his interest in government work evolved over time starting with discussions with his parents about current events to studying history and social studies.

At one point he was considering becoming a lawyer but “something in my gut didn’t feel right about it and I actually walked out of the (LSAT) test,” he said.

“I went back and talked to my adviser and I went to work as an intern in the city manager’s office in Springfield, Ohio.”

He enjoyed interning so much he eventually pursued his master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University after receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wittenberg University.

In 2006, he married his wife Jessica Thompson of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, a mental health counselor, and the two adopted a rescue dog, Shep.

Random Questions with Charlie Bush

Question 11: What is your guilty pleasure?

Bush: Meatloaf with ketchup. The more traditional kind. Mom’s meatloaf is the best. Occasionally I’ll make it. Usually it’s a guilty pleasure on the menu.


Random Questions with Charlie Bush

Question 11: What is your guilty pleasure?

Bush: Meatloaf with ketchup. Mom’s meatloaf is the best. Occasionally I’ll make it. Usually it’s a guilty pleasure on the menu.

Question 18: What is the first song that comes to mind?

Bush: “Love, loss, repeat” by my favorite band Carbon Leaf. We played them at our wedding.

Question 26: Have you ever broken a bone?

Bush: Never. I like to think it’s because I have thick bones. I injured my leg awhile back and had it X-rayed and they had to use upper leg X-rays to do my lower legs because they told me I have thick bones. I don’t know if that translates well to thick skin.

Question 27: If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow where would you go?

Bush: The Republic of Georgia. Back in 2011, I helped build a sister city relationship between Prosser (the city I was working for at the time) and the Vani municipality in Georgia … I got to go outbound for a couple of weeks to promote democracy. It was an interesting experience. I’m hoping to go back and will at some point.

Question 43: What do you like best about yourself?

Bush: I am resilient. I feel like in life there are a lot of challenges that come your way. I realize I have a real mental strength to overcome things. I recently hiked the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier. It’s about 100 miles and anytime you’re on a long hike you have the thought, ‘What am I doing here? Do I really want to be doing this?’ I just kept going.

Bonus question: What is something you’d like the community to know about you?

Bush: I’m an avid hiker. I enjoy outdoor activities. I enjoy traveling and I coached youth soccer.  I get into kayaking too.