“Yelm resident Jennifer Littlefield, 40, has filed with the Thurston County Auditor as a candidate for Position 5 on the Yelm City Council.
Littlefield currently serves as the Mill Pond Booster Club president. Raised in Washington, she returned to the state when her husband, Dwight Littlefield, a CPA, purchased a tax firm on Yelm Ave., now known as Littlefield and Co.
My family and I are financially, spiritually and socially committed to Yelm, she said. We absolutely love it here, and Im very interested in how Yelm develops today and into the future.
Littlefield said Yelm has to continue to aggressively deal with traffic and growth issues, and she believes this can be done while also being innovative and finding ways to bring opportunities to the citizens of Yelm that would greatly increase the quality of life here.
Littlefield has been married for 19 years and has three children attending Yelm schools. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in communications/journalism… Now a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty, she also serves with the Yelm Lions Club, as a Mill Pond SITE Team member and as a teacher and girls camp leader for her church,” quoting the Press Release.
The Yelm Community Blog asked Mrs. Littlefield if she would answer some tough questions about issues making news here from the Yelm City Council. Admittedly, these were challenging questions, though on subjects having been front-page news as lightning-rods around here of major importance to the city’s future in the years ahead, and on which she will be immediately presented if she is elected to office.
Her unabridged answers appear as follows:
1. The City has asked WSDOT to split the r-o-w & engineering funding on the Yelm Loop into two phases, move those funds from a 3 mile Phase 2 to a 1 mile Phase 1, leaving the Wal-Mart end of the Bypass without another opportunity for funding until the 2021-2023 biennium. Phase 1 will direct traffic through residential neighborhoods along Killion & Cullens Aves. [Ed. Note: The split in funding the Bypass in 2 Phases has occurred, with funding for a one-mile Phase One approved since these questions were submitted to Mrs. Littlefield & is now listed on the WSDOT website].
And, Wal-Mart was allowed to be built with an unfunded Bypass mitigating their traffic.
Mrs. Littlefield: Traffic is already traveling through residential neighborhoods off of Cullen and Killion Roads. Completion of the first phase of the bypass, while there is money available, will at least move these cars onto a non-residential roadway.
2. What do you say about the volume of debt the city is now holding as a result of the Mayor’s, Council’s & Community Development’s actions with Thurston Highlands developers?
Mrs. Littlefield: The housing slowdown has had a dramatic effect on many in our community, and the City of Yelm is no exception. Several factors have slowed development in our area. First, the Thurston County moratorium halted the 5-acre subdivision of rural properties. Then the dramatic rise in gas prices steered many commuting buyers away from Yelm. Lastly, the final implosion of the housing market slowed construction, taking with it the livelihood of many of our residents.
The City should work to recover any unexpected costs originally planned to be borne by the developers. This slowdown in growth offers an opportunity to re-focus attention on revitalizing the downtown core without the creation of alternate large retail or activity centers. Now is the time to build programs and activities that will act as a draw to the main downtown area, like a farmers market, concerts in the park, movies under the moon, festivals, recreation centers, etc.; the kinds of things that maintain the small town character that draws many here in the first place.
3. What are your views about the Highlands default & the city holding tens of thousands of dollars of their unpaid debt?
Mrs. Littlefield: The Thurston Highlands default is not pretty for anyone involved.
4. What do you think about the Council voting to fleece Yelm taxpayers to pay for Water System improvements to handle a Master Planned Community & $1.6 million in a well for the private Golf Course.
Mrs. Littlefield: The Water System Plan includes many projects and improvements, not just those related to Thurston Highlands. Also, it includes calculations with or without the MPC. The implication in your question is that the City is developing a well at the golf course for the sole use of the golf course. Of course that is not the case as a well or wells developed at that site would be for public distribution. The City must stay ahead of the curve on water issues, and I dont believe residents will regret investing in their water system.
Water rights have historically been the limiting factor of growth for both agricultural and urban sectors. He who controls the water controls the ability of an area to grow. The city should continue to seek water rights and the infrastructure to provide safe and clean drinking water to its citizens. That is within the citys scope of responsibility; however, better communication with citizens about what has occurred with the Thurston Highlands development is essential.
5. The city’s MDNS on water is incomplete and garnered 98 responses and 3 appeals. This is a major issue. What do you say to Yelm area property owners on this issue?
[Ed. Note: The city’s inconsistencies in comments about water issues have been noted in NVN full-page paid ads on May 15 and on July 10?]
Mrs. Littlefield: Ninety-eight responses and three appeals means the system in place for public input is working. The City cannot simply decide on a course of action and then implement it without going through this process. Citizens with concerns have the right and the obligation to raise those issues at the appropriate times and with the appropriate agency. The City needs to take seriously those concerns, no matter what sector of the community voices them; however, I am concerned about legal claims that use up the citys resources for no other reason than to stymie growth.
Whatever your opinion of growth, it must be understood that the GMA requires that growth occur within cities and the UGAs in order to prevent sprawl and to protect natural resources. People will disagree about how this is done, but city government and those with disputes should and can work cooperatively to resolve differences; however, it needs to be the goal of everyone involved to find a solution and not just pursue personal agendas.
6. Do you feel the same way as Council member Isom about having no concerns about anyone outside of the city?
Mrs. Littlefield: Having a small taxing jurisdiction will always be a predicament for the City of Yelm. Those living outside of the city limits still use the roads and parks and other infrastructure and services maintained by the city. Some of the burden is shared through sales tax, but no one can dispute the fact that city residents and those who own property within the city shoulder the majority of the tax burden. The Citys main stewardship is for the well being of its residents, and they must be first and foremost in consideration when developing policy. Then the City should move outward in its focus and see how policies and projects will affect our outlying neighbors, especially those living within the UGA. Yelm does not exist in a bubble, and we have a colorful, vibrant community with creative, caring and very giving people who live both within and without city limits.
Questions I hope to get the opportunity to ask in a subsequent interview with both candidates:
1. What are their positions on the State Grant of $400,000 for flush toilets in Longmire Park, toilets that would only get regular usage three months out of a year, and funded from a state budget with a deficit topping $9 billion & this with the city being near capacity on pumping its annual water allocation?
2. Mayor Harding saying the growth era to fund city projects/growth is over, in an NVN story April 17, 2009:
“The city has taken the stance in recent years for growth to pay for growth, [Yelm Mayor Ron] Harding said.
The city has taken on debt and allowed new growth to pay that debt.
That has changed with the economy, growth slowing and an anti-growth environment.
‘We can no longer operate the system allowing new growth,’ Harding said.”
What is your view about that?
3. The City Council doing little to nothing the last 10 years all the while full-well knowing their exemption to operate the Yelm Library in a private facility would end in 2012? Now Mayor Harding has said the public will have to adjust to less services in a smaller library facility beyond 2012.
What is their view about that?
Mrs. Littlefield is the wife of Yelm-based CPA Dwight Littlefield.
THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG THANKS MRS. LITTLEFIELD FOR HER RESPONSES!
LITTLEFIELD’S OPPONENT, CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE TRACEY WOOD HAS TWICE VERBALLY STATED HE WILL GIVE AN INTERVIEW WITH THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG, YET HAS NOT RETURNED E-MAIL OR PHONE REQUESTS TO DO SO. I HOPE TO GET HIS RESPONSE TO THESE SAME QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO READ.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE INVITED!