The North Coast News continues its series of the responses of candidates for elected office in Ocean Shores to a series of questions about their views.
Ocean Shores City Council Position 4 incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Jon Martin seeks re-election against first-time candidates Lorraine Hardin and Eva C. Russell. Martin won his Council seat with 67.4% of the vote in 2015.
Jon Martin, 59, is a native of Everett, who came to Ocean Shores in 2008 “from Upper Michigan by way of Alaska.” He is director of operations for a group of area McDonald’s restaurants and owner of Martin Bruni Liquor. He graduated Western Washington University in 1984 and is secretary/treasurer and legislative chairman of Greater Grays Harbor Inc., legislative liaison for the Ocean Shores City Council, vice president of the Washington Small Liquor Association, a supporter of Ronald McDonald House and an Eagle Scout
Eva Russell, 49, is a Turlock, California, native who came to Ocean Shores from Kirkland in 2017. She is a chef at Linda’s Bakery and has worked as a business administrator, private investigator and in private security. She attended Modesto Junior College and Stanislaus State University and volunteers locally with the North Beach Senior Center, Cascadia Research as part of a response team for beached marine animals, the Elks Scholarship Committee and Hoop Shoot. She enjoys gardening, crafts, beach walks, friends, baking and cooking.
Lorraine Hardin, 59, was born in Tacoma. She and husband Neil bought a house in Ocean Shores in 2010 and moved in full-time in early 2015, from Auburn. She is currently retired “although very active in our local live theater — Stage West Community Theatre.” Most of her career was in veterinary medicine as a veterinary technician and then hospital manager. She has also worked as a service clerk in a heavy equipment dealership and then as a medical transcriptionist. She graduated from Lincoln High School in Tacoma and has taken “some scattered college courses for certifications needed for work.” She is a member of the BPOE (Elks), Harbor Humanists, Stage West Community Theatre and Life at the Shore and enjoys travel, theater and politics.
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?
Martin: I would like to see the city improve access to health care. Our hospital provides little support to our area and at the same time receives considerable financial support from the North Beach. During the past four years the chief executive has only attended one council meeting and has given very little interested in Ocean Shores issues. As like the jetty, when told there is not a solution and the cost would be more then makes sense, this can be overcome by working together and pushing for solutions. There are other models that maybe a guideline. This is a problem that will take more than just our city. It will take both hospitals, the county, state and federal. We have gotten things done in the past and can get them done in the future. It will take work, but I do believe this is one of the top priorities for our city.
Russell: I would like to see a city statement written. A city statement helps residents of ALL kinds, part-time residents, visitors and guests know what to expect when they come to this great city. What will you do to make that happen? I will work as one of seven to help spread the importance of how a statement can define how we proceed with many other issues that will come forward in the future. It could also help with bringing new business and events.
Hardin: I would very much like to see the City encourage the building of more living-wage, affordable housing for our city’s employees. Employers struggle to find new employees, and a part of that is because there is not enough housing for them. I would task the Planning and Permitting departments to work with developers to find reasonable compromises to make building multi-family units feasible and affordable for renters. I would also take full advantage of the Federal Opportunity Zones Program to find innovative ways to make life for our young families better here. We could invite a healthcare provider like Providence or UW to bring a neighborhood clinic to Ocean Shores. We could also invite some type of light industry, possibly one that can utilize the new high-speed broadband the state is supporting, to build a business here that would employ people year-round. I will help identify and lobby the people who could make those things happen and work to make sure the City could accommodate them.
Should the City prohibit homeless shelters and services in certain areas, Which areas and why?
Martin: Homeless shelters are a zoning issue. There are certain places that they should not be located. Just as we do not currently allow overnight rentals in parts of the city, the same should apply. I believe the City should have a voice in the location and rules of this, just like we do in locating multi-unit housing, liquor stores, retail business.
Russell: Zones? If we had them then this would not be a conversation. If we had zones we would not be allowing homes to be built in what is clearly a business district. Homelessness is a hot issue and EVERY city has to figure out what is best to do. We here in Ocean Shores have not one resource for the homeless because we don’t have resources for the actual working population. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of the homeless. The stress a shelter would put on our emergency response team is also something that needs to be thought about.
Hardin: The City has zoning in place that would already prohibit such services in certain areas. There are limited areas that might reasonably be off-limits, such as the hotel and tourist retail areas. Certainly, the problem of homelessness must be addressed and I think that allowing for very limited services is simply humane. If we are going to work together to create greater civic pride in our city, it behooves us to work with the County agencies tasked with providing care and shelter.
Are you satisfied with the direction the city is taking with the Convention Center? If not, what would you have it do differently?
Martin: The Convention Center is better than it was, from a financial standpoint. It is an important part of the Ocean Shores economy. Could we do better in communicating with other businesses on events and how to build on current and find bigger events — yes. With a change in leadership I am very optimistic that the City is looking at the Convention Center differently and believe we are moving in the right direction.
Russell: I would like to see the convention center busier all year long. It seems we could have a few more winter events that would draw in folks in the winter. It would benefit everyone, businesses and residents alike. As far as how to make that happen — maybe build external partners that can facilitate the conversations with businesses to bring conferences. Groups like Amazon, Oracle and Google all have business meetings and conferences off site. We need to build these types of lasting relationships.
Hardin: I would like to see how this first year with new marketing in place pans out before I make any judgment on that. One thing I would like to see is for the center to bring in some of the Casino-circuit entertainers that tour the country. I think they would find plenty of audience here.
Wouldn’t it be great if Ocean Shores could_______ ? (fill in the blank)
Martin: Wouldn’t it be great if Ocean Shores could put away the differences and focus on some big items that will require outside help, such as health care, waste and planning for emergencies?
Russell: Wouldn’t it be great if Ocean Shores could have more services then we currently do. More then one doctor in town, an urgent care clinic or 24-hour clinic, another grocery store just to name a few.
Hardin: Wouldn’t it be great if Ocean Shores could be all things to all people! We are home to more than 6,000 residents of all ages. We invite tourists to come enjoy all the things we love here and they come by the thousands. Behind the scenes though, I think we struggle to find a balance and I worry that we are not looking ahead to what our young people will find to keep them here. I will work hard to convince our City leadership to build a viable strategic plan for Ocean Shores that will take us into a healthy and prosperous future.