Thank you and Farewell

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[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZLHE7mUK0Q[/embedyt] “In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer Twenty years ago, I made a decision that changed my life. I entered public service, first as a Tacoma City Councilmember, then 29th District state legislator, and now ending my career as Pierce County Councilmember. I did not come to these positions thinking I had all the answers. Answers came from you, the people I represented. I continue to be impressed with the passion, dedication, and knowledge of all our residents. You and others helped me better understand the issues that confront our community daily, from social problems to business interests, and environmental concerns to land use. I…
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‘Art of Compromise’ needed to pass behavioral health tax increase

Health
Finally, Council passed an ordinance to adopt a one-tenth of one percent tax for behavioral health. First, a little history. In 2016 I introduced, and Council supported, the idea to conduct a study on Pierce County’s behavioral health system. In 2018, I requested an addendum to that report. The study acknowledged we have several great providers making good efforts in Pierce County, but we lacked a systemic approach to addressing patient needs. There were also recommendations for how to improve the system. Also in 2016, I introduced an ordinance to pass the behavioral health tax. At the time we received numerous emails, heard from behavioral health providers and held a town hall meeting where 500 people showed up, the majority of them to show support for the tax. When it…
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Why I left Tuesday’s Council meeting

Health
On Tuesday, I did something I have never done in my 18 years in elected office: I excused myself and left a Council meeting. It was not a decision I made lightly and I’d like to share why. Ordinance 2020-136 was before Council and proposed terminating a nearly 50-year-old agreement with the city of Tacoma that provides fiscal oversight and contributions from both governments, as well as policy decisions, for a joint city-county run public health department. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department runs independently, and its policies are based on science and not politics. It is overseen by a Board of Health made up of representatives from the County Council, Tacoma City Council, one mayor from the Small Cities and Towns organization, and a doctor chosen by Pierce County Medical Society.…
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Tacoma Farmers Market: Shop local this holiday season

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The holiday season is fast approaching and this year I encourage you to double-down on efforts to shop local and support Pierce County business. One way you can do that through visiting the Tacoma Farmers Market, which has four markets planned between now and the December holidays. Not only is this a great place to stop for all your holiday meal prep needs, but you can also find handmade gifts to put under the tree. The Tacoma Farmers Market distributes locally-produced, fresh and health foods to those in need and supports 25 farms Pierce County farms in the process. Take a minute to swing by on one of the following dates: Thursday, Nov. 19, Broadway Market, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, Point Ruston Market, 10 a.m. to…
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Wearing a mask does not mean I ‘live in fear’

Health
It’s no secret, we’re seeing a third surge in positive covid cases in Pierce County. Recent case counts continue to follow an upward trajectory, erasing the efforts we put forward earlier this year to reduce the transmission of this deadly virus. Health experts are warning this will continue as more people move indoors and as the holidays approach. Beating this virus is a marathon and not a sprint. People need to heed the advice of state and local health officials and continue to follow the guidance that is proven to reduce transmission of covid-19. I believe it is important that people understand wearing a mask and practicing social distancing is an act of kindness. It is frustrating to see this simple step create divisions in our community. I have worn…
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Vote.

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Yes, it is that time of year. With all the yard signs, mailings and political ads flooding our streets, mailboxes and minds we find ourselves in systems overload. My husband and I have been in elected office for several years and yet we still refer to this time of year as “crazy season.” It can be so much that there is a temptation to just check out. But, PLEASE, don’t let that happen to you. I received a newsletter a while ago and would like to share an excerpt: “The League of Women Voters has been advocating for voting rights for 100 years. We have made progress, but there are still many people who for many reasons don't vote. Did you know that in 2016 there were more eligible voters…
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COVID-19 impacts on behavioral health

Health
A few years ago, the County Council established the Mobile Community Intervention Response Team to address a high number of calls to 911 that needed assistance, but not by traditional first responders like law enforcement or fire and rescue personnel. The program pairs a behavioral health professional from Comprehensive Life Resources (CLR), with a sheriff’s deputy or someone within emergency medical services. Together the team refers and connects people experiencing mental illness, substance abuse or other unmet medical needs with therapeutic outreach services. Prior to this program, many of these people ended up in jail or emergency rooms – all costly interventions that often resulted in repeat calls for service once individuals were released. Recently, the Council’s Human Service Committee received a report about the impact of COVID-19 on the…
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Concerns about work release plans

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The Legislature has authorized creating 200 beds for work release between June 30, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Fifty of these beds will be allocated to Pierce County during this period. This action is not COVID-related but is intended to fill a need for inmates to transition out of prison in a way that reduces the chance of re-offending. But, COVID social distancing has inhibited the ability for me and my colleagues to do the kind of community outreach needed to ensure that you are informed and have input. I believe in being transparent with our public in these matters. So much so that I wrote a letter to the Governor, signed by the Executive and all Councilmembers, that expresses our concerns. In the letter, we encouraged the Governor to…
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The vote for behavioral health funding

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It has been a week since the Pierce County Council failed to pass an ordinance to help fund services for behavior health. Now that my anger and frustration have settled, I am able to share with you some of my thoughts that I expressed the night of the vote. In 2005, the State Legislature authorized Counties’ legislative authority to pass a one tenth of 1% on sales and use tax to fund behavior health and therapeutic courts. If the tax would have passed last week, we would have realized about $13.1 million annually for Pierce County. Twenty-five jurisdictions have passed this tax in our State, every county this side of the Cascades, both big and small, Republican and Democratic led. Their leaders saw the need, acknowledged the ability to raise…
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Your behavioral health is worth a penny

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“Deja vu all over again,” an expression many of us have heard and used. According to Psychology Today, "Déjà Vu" is a common intuitive experience that has happened to many of us. The expression is derived from the French, meaning "already seen." When it occurs, it seems to spark our memory of a place we have already been, a person we have already seen, or an act we have already done. An act we have already done couldn’t be more accurate at this current point in time. In 2016, the County Council voted to pass a one-tenth of 1% sales and use tax for mental illness and substance use disorders. It failed on a vote of 4 in favor and 3 against. You may have noticed that is a majority…
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