Q. What are the most challenging economic growth issues facing Whitefish, and what solutions do you propose for handling growth?
A. The most challenging issues continue to be accommodating the explosive growth of our town while still maintaining the quality of life that brings people to Whitefish. This growth, coupled with the limited housing stock close to or in downtown has led to skyrocketing property values and the inability of most working class people to afford to live in Whitefish. Itís also placed a significant strain on our infrastructure. Upgrading infrastructure costs money, and fortunately the city staff and council have always had an eye on the future when it comes to expanding and upgrading our infrastructure. Ultimately, I think itís time to dig back into the Growth Policy and make sure that this document is still relevant across the city and ensure that we continue to grow in a way that respects the residentsí vision.
Q. Is the city of Whitefish doing enough to address affordable/workforce housing?
A. For over 20 years, Whitefish has been concerned about affordable housing, and all of our initiatives over those 20 years resulted in only a handful of affordable units. This past summer the inclusionary zoning ordinance took effect and requires developers to provide workforce housing in all new developments or pay money in lieu of the affordable units. We had to make this move because we didnít get enough units and the working class could no longer afford to live in Whitefish. So we had to do something ó something that is common in towns similar to ours across the Mountain West. With that said, I do believe there is a balance to be had between affordability, opportunity and preserving neighborhood character. I will ensure that we continue to find the right balance.
Q. Preserving the quality of Whitefish Lake and the small-town character of Whitefish are important issues for the resort town. What further steps can the city take to ensure these values are preserved?
A. I just want to be clear here. Weíre a product of our own success. Because we have made the right choices to preserve and beautify our downtown, preserved the ability for pedestrians to access downtown, and added amenities adjacent to town, we continue to have a vibrant and lively city. People come here because we are authentic and when you go out on a Friday night you run into authentic, working class folks who work hard and like to get outdoors. Look around. There arenít any giant homes in the city that were built before the year 2000. Whitefish was born from hardworking people who also liked to ski, get out on the lake and even play golf. That authenticity must be preserved.
Q. What qualities make you the best candidate for a council position?
A. My experience makes me the best candidate for a council position. I have been in Whitefish for almost 20 years now and Iíve listened to the stories of longtime residents. Iíve seen a lot of the change from a seat in City Hall on the Planning Board and Iíve volunteered many hundreds of hours analyzing growth issues in our town. I understand the often-complicated ordinances in the city, and when I donít, I know what questions to ask because Iím concerned about making sure we grow while remaining true to who we are. We need someone who knows where weíve been in order to guide us in the future, and thatís why Iím asking people to vote for me.