Thursday, October 15, 2009

Last Night's Candidate Forum

For those of you who were not able to make it to the Candidate Forum last evening, I wanted to share my speech with you.

Hello fellow residents of Leavenworth. Thank you all for coming out tonight and participating in your civic government. It is wonderful to see so many that share a passion for Leavenworth and its continued success in the future. I am Anne Hessburg and I am asking for your vote.

We, in this room and beyond, make up a community of diverse needs and as such, need a city council that represents the many perspectives native to our town. In addition to a substantial population of long time residents, Leavenworth has a growing demographic of young working professionals, business owners, and families. More people recognize that this hidden treasure at the foot of the Cascade Mountains offers many benefits and opportunities of prosperity for decades to come. The role of city council is to represent all aspects of our community. Each councilmember has a duty to bring their voice and perspective, on behalf of the city residents, to the arena of city government. As a young professional and involved member of our community, I am uniquely qualified to represent and balance the many needs and perspectives that make our community great. My youthfulness is a strength and my passion for the future of Leavenworth is an asset; for it is not the years that are important, it is the involvement and experience that you have put into them that makes the difference.

I grew up in the Wenatchee valley, spending much of my free time in Leavenworth. I put myself through college by working four consecutive years for the local Forest Service fire crew. And now as an Environmental Planner for our County and five year resident of our amazing city, I have been highly involved and devoted to our community.

Civically, I have been attending our city council meetings for the past year, learning our local government and staying abreast of the happenings and issues that face our community. I have enjoyed watching and learning how our city functions; balancing the many diverse needs of residents, business owners, tourism operators, agriculturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts, all within the backdrop of our beautiful mountain setting and Bavarian theme.

I have a profound respect for the work of those who have built this town into the success that it is today. Leavenworth owes much of its present success and economic health to the vision of the original Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone organization, known as LIFE. Today, as at the founding of the original LIFE organization, this community strives to balance the needs of its residents with the development of its tourism, recreation and agriculture based economy.

My vision to contribute to Leavenworth’s continued and future success is based in community wide cooperation involving the many generations of individuals who call this area home. We must not abandon the proven successes of the past, nor should we turn a blind eye to positive changes that pave the road to our continued progress.

We live in the Pacific Northwest Mecca of recreation, and I am a proud member of this facet of our community. I am a member of Trail Washington, who promotes community mountain bike trail riding, and I volunteer my winter free time on the events team at Stevens Pass Ski Resort.

As a steward of our land and community, I am a highly active member of our Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, and am on the Valley Trail committee within this organization. I am also a member of Life2 and recently volunteered with Leavenworth Recycles surveying all the Leavenworth business owners about their recycling practices and needs.

I am also an active proponent of our local festivals as I volunteer my time for at the Bavarian Bike and Brew Fest and our Autumn Leaf Festival.

I represent purposeful development that meets the needs of our community. As more families and individuals recognize the many qualities of our beautiful Cascade mountain town, the demand for housing, commercial space, and community services continue to increase. With our new residents, our community on the whole benefits from increased diversity in our schools, to new volunteers and contributors at our festivals. At the same time, population growth and community expansion exert pressures on our current residents, our surrounding natural environment, and our community services as a whole. I work as an Environmental Planner for Chelan County in the Department of Community Development. I do land use permitting on shorelines and critical areas, within the County. My employment puts me in contact with the public on a daily basis, as I take care of complaints, resolve land use and development conflicts, as well as provide necessary information and guidance to help make their projects successful. As a Planner I believe I can make a difference in someone’s life everyday, and that is very satisfying. Working for Chelan County, I regularly build and coordinate inter governmental relationships, and believe this would be an asset to the council. In my job I see many different people with different backgrounds and situations. I feel this gives me context for different types of people and situations within our local government and community.

Hand in hand with development and the desirability of our setting, the relative price of housing costs have increased dramatically in Leavenworth over the past 20 years. We need to continue to work with local organizations like SHARE to make housing affordable to the residents and employees of our community. Having worked for seasonal employers such as the Forest Service and Stevens Pass, I understand the strain of finding affordable housing, and what the potential long term consequences can mean in this community. We need to find a balance between the growing market values of homes in this amazing mountain town and the growing need to keep our valuable employment base living and working in our community.

We live in one of the most beautiful places in our state and country, so it is our duty to make sure that it is here for our children and future generations to enjoy, as we do today. Environmental sustainability is our responsibility. We must be forward thinking and embrace programs like recycling so that we may preserve this valley we love; providing the opportunity to share it with the future. Let’s work together to leave Leavenworth better than we found it.

Recreation is one of the greatest assets we have to offer our residents and tourists alike. Having lived with a family in Bavaria for a time, I have witnessed first hand the intrinsic connection between authentic Bavarian culture and outdoor recreation. Similar to the towns of our thematic inspiration, residents stay home in our town rather than opting to travel elsewhere, while tourists travel for hours to set foot in our town to enjoy the four seasons of recreational fun. From Alpine backpacking, hiking and camping, to rafting and tubing on your choice of two beautiful rivers, to biking amongst the rural County roads or downhill in the mountains, there are endless recreational possibilities beckoning to you. It is important for the sustainability of our rural, recreational community that we continue to build upon the amazing recreational opportunities that our town has to offer, and that make it possible for us to maintain the livelihood we have grown so accustom to.

The development of tourism surrounding our unique Bavarian theme and outdoor recreation has served to truly differentiate Leavenworth over the last four decades, and will continue to pave a successful road for both our residential and commercial needs. It is our loyal and dependable tourists that generate millions in sales tax revenue each year; funds, that when allocated practically and appropriately, serve to better the lives of our residents and community, while at the same time ensuring the financial health of our town in the future. Balancing public investment to serve the needs of our residents, businesses, and tourists, is an ever-moving target that merits close attention and public discussion. I am a very financially detailed person, managing accurate budgets in both my personal and professional life. My strength in this area will prove to be an asset and will bring tangible value to the citizens of Leavenworth.

My hopes for the future include:
~ a clearly defined expansion of the Bavarian theme, hand in hand with the expansion of recreation.
~ implementation of a successful, cost-effective recycling program for all residences and businesses within the city limits.
~ continued growth in affordable housing.
~ continued improvement of the city’s infrastructure for our residents, businesses and visitors alike.
~ And safer, more connected trail systems between residential destinations like schools, Enchantment Park, Barn Beach, Black Bird Island, Lions Club Park, and our local playing fields, as well as a trail system connecting tourist destinations like the new Icicle train station, our downtown business corridor and the waterfront.

Coordinating the proven successes of our city’s past with new ideas and positive progress will ensure our successful advancement into a bigger and brighter future. It is my passion to become a stronger, more involved member of this community as it continues to grow and flourish, and feel that my presence on the Leavenworth City Council will accurately and diligently represent all those who call our valley home.

Thank you so much for coming out tonight. I am Anne Hessburg and I am asking for your vote!

No comments:

Post a Comment