Two of the five Ocean Shores City Council seats are up for election this fall have only two candidates and thus are not on the primary ballot that was mailed to registered voters last week for the August 6 primary. However, those candidates were also asked the same questions as the candidates who stand for the Primary.
For City Council position 2, Kathryn Sprigg, no age listed, has been the incumbent since she was appointed to that position April 8, following the death of Council member Jeff Daniel. She is a native of Boise, Idaho, and she and her husband, Wendell, moved to Ocean Shores from West Seattle in 2016. She is retired, having been employed nine years as Director of Assessment and Research for Highline School District. Previous to that she was the Washington State Coordinator for the National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and has also been an instructor of business communications and computer skills courses at Central Washington University, Green River College and Highline School District. She was also a store director, developing budgets for a nearly $30 million retail store with over 200 employees and has over 20 years’ experience in retail and wholesale sales. She earned a Masters of Education degree from Central Washington University in 2001 and a Doctorate of Education from Seattle University in 2004. Sprigg volunteers at North Beach Senior Center, is a peer reviewer for the Washington Education Research Association, where she served for six years as president and executive board member, and has served on the Ocean Shores Planning Commission and on the City of Seattle Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee. She enjoys travel, walking, beach combing, bird watching and amateur photography.
Her opponent is Michael Darling, 65, a native of Springfield, Illinois, who bought a second home in Ocean Shores in 2007 and moved here full time in 2013 from Normandy Park, WA after retiring in 2012 as Director of Planning and Development at the Seattle Aquarium. He earned a BA from Illinois State University in 1980. He is currently the president of the Ocean Shores Park Board and is the founder and a director of the Ocean Shores Park Foundation. He responded to “Hobbies, interests, etc.” by writing, “Filling out long questionnaires when running for public office.”
1. What is the number one thing you’d like to see the City accomplish in the next four years? What will you do to make that happen?
Sprigg: Develop a strategic plan to guide the city over the next five to 10 years. If we don’t, we are in danger of losing the unique nature of the city that we moved here to enjoy. Part of the strategic plan must address the growing need for medical services. We must also look at the impacts of development in the city, before we lose the beauty that surrounds us. Balancing the needs of our citizens with the interests of our tourists must be addressed in the strategic plan as well.
What will I do to make that happen? The process starts with listening to stakeholders. I’ll work with city leaders to organize meetings with people who have different interests and needs so we can come up with a plan that addresses the needs of our citizens. I want to get people involved, to make sure that Ocean Shores remains a vibrant, welcoming community. We’ll do that by putting our heads together to solve our challenges.
Darling: Continue to grow our reserve fund while paying down existing debt. To achieve that I will make principled and disciplined decisions.
2. Should the City prohibit homeless shelters and services in certain areas,? Which areas and why?
Sprigg: Our pyramid zoning regulations pose challenges to limiting the types of uses that can be restricted in our commercial areas and we need to update those regulations. Homelessness is an issue that goes beyond the city’s ability to fix. We are constrained by court rulings that direct how we address homelessness. I don’t believe we should criminalize the homeless, any one of us could find ourselves in a similar situation at some point in our lives. If a developer wants to build a shelter, we should require it to be located it in the areas where people can access wraparound services and we should require shelters to offer services that can help people get back on their feet and become contributing members of society again.
Darling: I don’t believe homeless shelters and services in the business core will be good for anyone. Certainly any future planned facilities would better serve the homeless if located near existing services and not in our City Center.
3. Are you satisfied with the direction the city is taking with the Convention Center? If not, what would you have it do differently?
Sprigg: The Convention Center is a great asset for our community. It provides a place for citizens and tourists to enjoy activities not generally available in a city of our size. I’m happy that we have a number of new events coming this year and sad that we’ve lost other events. I’d like to see a jazz or blues festival return. I’d like to see the Expo event return. At the same time, I understand that organizers want to provide new experiences to their audiences and sometimes that means going to a new venue. If I had to choose something that I’d like to see the Convention Center do differently, it would be to consider providing Civic Center activities such as theater and performing arts or even sporting events.
Darling: It’s a “wait and see” now. With new personnel and marketing strategies, I’m hopeful we will see increases in rentals, new clients, new events and overnight visitors. (We will have time to evaluate after peak tourist season and well before the next budget cycle.)
4. Wouldn’t it be great if Ocean Shores could _____ ? (fill in the blank)
Sprigg: Have a great medical center where citizens could see a doctor or nurse practitioner and access urgent care needs. I talk to people on a regular basis who tell me that they’re traveling to Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, even Portland, to see a doctor. Our great Paramedics and EMT people travel to Aberdeen almost daily and to Olympia often, to transport people who cannot access the medical services they need here or at Community Hospital. If we had medical services here in town, those trips could be cut and we could save taxpayers’ dollars.
Darling: … elect a council that comes to meetings prepared to make progress on critical issues. In the absence of budget figures, a written proposal and plans to lower or abandon other priorities, it’s unrealistic to expect any measure of success. I will ask questions, listen to everyone and communicate with the community. I will do research and come to meetings ready to make tough decisions. Ultimately, a Council member has but one vote and sometimes won’t agree with the majority. However, they must always work together to ensure continued success for Ocean Shores.