In the first one-on-one interview with My Edmonds News since he took office in January 2020, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson sat down Friday with Publisher Teresa Wippel, speaking to a wide range of topics — from the just-released Equity and Social Justice Task Force report to the police chief hiring process to his leadership style.
We have provided a transcript of the hour-long interview below, edited slightly for clarity and repetitive subject matter. We have also included, when needed, a summary introduction of the issues that the mayor addressed in each Q&A section:
Equity and Justice Task Force
Nelson announced in June 2020 he was appointing an advisory Equity and Social Justice Task Force “to help identify and correct issues of systemic and implicit bias within city operations in response to the aggressions and inequities perpetrated on African-Americans around the nation and in our region.” The task force began meeting in August 2020 with the goal of both studying equity-related issues within city government and creating an Equity Toolkit and an Equity Work Plan for the city. While the initial goal was to study citywide operations, the task force started with the police department, based on the nationwide focus on policing as it related to social justice issues. The task force report on public safety/policing, which was released Wednesday, Jan. 27, was developed under the guidance of Bellevue-based Armstead Consulting, which specializes in equity and justice work. The city paid Armstead $47,500 its role, which included compiling all findings into the report.
Teresa Wippel (TW): I had heard that some task force members were concerned that the report came out before they had a chance to talk with you about it. That there was supposed to be a meeting with you next week to go over it, to agree on what would be released.
Mike Nelson (MN): They had presented to me a draft and…then they revised it. So we didn’t have a meeting since the revision, but I did have a meeting with all of them at the draft. The recommendations that were in the draft were no different than the recommendations that were finalized. There were no changes in the recommendations or the findings. Those substantive pieces were consistent. They hadn’t been changed. I felt like I had enough and heard from them enough to do that (release the report).
I think they (task force members) are understandably afraid. Some of them are in fear of their safety because of interactions that they’ve had with other people, with law enforcement.
TW: The question is, where was the disconnect? Because I heard very clearly there was some distress about task force members feeling like they didn’t have a chance to talk with you before that report was out there. To your point — feeling like they were vulnerable.
MN: Yes, I get that. I think there was this expectation that they could maybe be anonymous…but if there’s a public records request we have to release your names. There’s no legal reasoning not to do that. I think it’s just that overarching…they’re sharing stuff and it’s not easy.
If we don’t have these discussions, if we don’t get it out there, if we don’t share how are we actually making progress, the alternative is, everything’s fine, we’re good, don’t worry about it, just don’t talk about. Just wait until the next thing happens and it bubbles up again. I feel like this is our moment. We had 1,000 Edmonds residents marching for Black Lives Matter this summer (summer 2020). People were demanding we look at how we do things, in an equitable and inclusive way. We got people involved. We got their feedback. And now it’s the hard part. We say we need to do better. We need to have more training, we need to be more accountable.
You’re calling out police departments and that’s big-time scary stuff. But at the end of the day, they (task force members) are advising me and what I do with that or don’t do with that…here’s some information to help inform me…as to what I’m thinking about, how can we be better in all the different areas.
TW: I know you had said in forming the task force that you had hoped they would do more work in other areas of city government, so are you still thinking that’s going to be possible?
MN: Yeah, whether or not it’s exactly the same people. One of their (ideas) was to form an equity team, but I think the reality of this is, we just ran out of time.
TW: At the time the task force was formed, policing was the hot button issue? So that was why the decision was made to start there?
MN: Start there because this is the issue people seem to care most about in our community, in our state, in our country. Look right now in the (state) Legislature. Look at all the police accountability legislation that is going through and will probably pass. That is the focus, right? But I don’t want us just to say, stop there. One of the things they (the task force) also included, which may sound sort of insignificant, is this equity tool. There are cities who, when they make decisions, they take this thing (the equity tool), and they ask this series of questions before they make that decision. That’s something we don’t do in any of our departments, and that’s something that we now can take that and apply that (to the) next time we say, ‘OK where will our next park will be, where are we going to build it?’ I would submit to you…if we had that two years ago, I don’t think we would have redone Civic Field…we probably may have picked someplace else. So that is going to have a profound impact, I think, on where we’re putting our investments in the future.
But that doesn’t change what are we doing in our city in terms of hiring, what are we doing in terms of our own equity and inclusion training, what are our permitting policies, our ability to offer language services. We saw that with the triple shooting (Sept. 30, 2020 at Boo Han Market). There was a language barrier issue there. Other things we can be doing proactively out in the community, so we are not relying on some 24-hour translation service. So I absolutely want to have something — whether it’s them (the original task force members) or a combination of some of them and other new people — that is there to hold our city government accountable — not just what the policing recommendations are.
TW: Certainly, the findings of the task force and the things that people are feeling about how they are treated are concerning, and to have those there in a format that people can look it I think is very educational and enlightening. But there was one thing that struck me, in particular. It actually called out an individual police department employee, Detective Julie Govantes, and put her in a light that was — in some peoples’ minds — somewhat subjective. Here’s what I’m referring to, from Page 7 of the report:
In the interview, the police gathered four people including a person of color, whose role seemed to be strictly to represent and speak to the supposed diversity of the agency. This person was not an equal within the conversation, and spoke only on her lack of experience of tokenism. The dynamics in the interview created a sense of tokenizing her and putting her in a spokesperson’s role to blunt criticism or help address questions on diversity when speaking to an equity and social justice panel. What would have felt and been authentic would be that a police officer in an appropriate job description like community outreach officer or supervisor could give an equal and complementary experience to the many questions rather than one or two questions on tokenism. She was only called upon for the one or two questions which shows she was tokenized. Her body language was uncomfortable and we felt bad for her knowing she was obviously very uncomfortable.
In your role, you have so many hats you have to wear. You are responsible to the citizens, but you are also responsible to your employees…you are their boss. So you have a situation where you are having to balance, where you are releasing this report where there’s something like that. My understanding is that it was quite upsetting to her (Detective Govantes). Nobody asked her if that was the right read of the situation. Nobody asked her if she was being tokenized. And yet there she is, being held out there publicly in this perception. I’m bringing that up because, is this an example of, is there a responsibility to look at the impact of this report not just on calling out how the police can do a better job, but how maybe it did some damage to the morale of the (police) department and does that matter?
MN: First and foremost, this is the perspective of the task force members, and that is what is provided. They’re interviewing people, they’re getting information back, and they are forming their opinion based on that. I’ve met with Julie and I’ve talked with her about this and we had a really good conversation. I think there is in general a feeling that I’ve heard from law enforcement where they are not used to being under this microscope. And they feel uncomfortable, they feel like it’s unfair, they feel like “we are doing our job, we’re doing it the best, why is this happening?” And I think there is that time for them to share it, but that is not what this is for. This is from the community’s perspective, of community members, how they are feeling. Is there an opportunity to share how an officer feels? Absolutely. What’ve I’ve committed to do is to say, OK, when we do our police chief search, I want to hear not only from officers, I want to hear from people of color officers, and female officers particularly, are there things you’d like to see in the department differently or are things just perfect. In the audit, I’m asking the very same thing. I want you to interview the officers. As I understand it, maybe one time — in decades — has anyone asked their opinion. I absolutely value their opinion, I’m going to get their opinion and it’s going to be part of our audit and it’s going to be part of our chief selection process. So that is where they are going to be able to share their perspective, their viewpoint, how they feel they are being treated. This is not that place for it.
TW: My point is, that example maybe was not a good example to have in a publicly released report. I’m just asking if you think so?
MN: The report was intended to come to me. But everyone wants to see everything I’m getting, and everyone wants to hear what I’m doing, and I did not edit out comments, and I didn’t think it was really appropriate to edit comments. They (the task force) were really independent in that sense. Once I tasked them to go do “X” and they kept me informed but I never said, don’t say those things. I’m not saying that I agree with what they are saying but I also didn’t want to be in place where I was telling them ‘you should say this, you shouldn’t say that.'” I feel from the detective’s perspective and letting me know how she felt about it, I think we have a good process moving forward on how to address it. It’s sort of a lopsided thing — you’re hearing ‘that’s not how it went.’
TW: I don’t even know if that’s how it went. What I did hear was, that the task force members thought there should have been some vetting between the time this report was given to the public on Wednesday and the time that they were supposed to meet with you.
MN: I haven’t heard that. That part didn’t trickle to me. Maybe some had different expectations. When they were working on the report, it was very clear that A) this could be a public document and B) it could come out. When I got, this is the final report, we’re good.
Police chief search process
The most controversial decision in Nelson’s year-long tenure has been his efforts to appoint a new police chief to replace longtime Chief Al Compaan, who retired Jan. 1, 2020. Assistant Chief Jim Lawless was appointed acting chief a year ago. During the 12 months since Lawless’ acting chief appointment, Nelson started one national search that was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nelson then stated in an April 2020 press release that he intended to hire Lawless without a search, pointing to his “steady, firm hand during a time of uncertainty” amid the pandemic. But the Edmonds City Council insisted that Nelson follow the rules for executive-level city appointments and conduct a search process for three applicants. When three suitable applicants could not be found, the council agreed to consider two finalists: Pruitt and Sauk Suiattle Tribal Chief Sherman Pruitt. Nelson then announced Dec. 3 he was appointing Pruitt, which the city council confirmed on a 4-3 vote. The appointment was labeled as conditional, because the city was awaiting a final written satisfactory report of Pruitt’s psychological evaluation, which was pending prior to the council vote.
The council’s approval came despite requests from three councilmembers to slow the process based on questions raised about Pruitt’s background. My Edmonds News published a story about the candidate’s domestic violence allegations here — the same day that Nelson stated he was withdrawing the offer to Pruitt because Pruitt had “omitted relevant details from his application. (A letter from Nelson to Pruitt stated the reason: Pruitt hadn’t disclosed he had applied for a police officer job in Lake Stevens 10 years prior.)
On Jan. 14, the mayor released a six-minute video announcing that the city has selected the Washington, D.C.-based International Association of Chiefs of Police to conduct a new search, a process that is estimated to take five months. He also said he has hired the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) — at a cost of $66,000 plus travel expenses — to conduct a performance audit of the Edmonds Police Department.
TW: I wanted to revisit the police chief search process and put this Equity and Social Justice Task Force report into context, because it’s important for the community to understand the timeline. Going through April 2020, you had said Jim Lawless was going to be your choice, assuming council confirmation, and then the council said, ‘we want you to go through the process.’ So you did the process and came up with two finalists — Lawless and Pruitt — and after the interviews you selected Pruitt. What were some of the factors going into your decision? I’m wondering if you could talk a bit about that and mainly if there was anything happening during this task force that was influencing your thinking as you were looking at those two candidates?
MN: I don’t want to really get to…I’m trying to focus on moving forward.
TW: I know, but there are still questions people have and it might help us to move forward.
MN: I get that. I think when you are trying to hire somebody you are getting information from all kinds of sources. You’re getting information from the public, you’re getting information from private, you’re getting information that’s delayed, sometimes it’s not delayed. I will say that I was getting monthly reports from the task force. This was not the only source of information that was influencing my decision-making process. How people performed in a crisis vs. how they performed day to day and just seeing… when you are in that mode and you’ve both shared some experiences together but at the same time once you are out of that mode then you have to get back to normal day-to-day duties and operations and things.
Obviously, hindsight is always 20/20. Sure, I wish I could have done things differently. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes every day. I should have done a better job articulating the type of chief I was looking for, and that’s something that I did not do. But at the end of the day, I did not hire that candidate (Pruitt) and I’ve learned from it and I’m making sure that this time, we’re doing things differently. This time, I’m articulating this is what I’m looking for and I’m making sure we have a process that is including the community in several different ways.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police is a model for all police chief leadership in the country. They are not only going to be reaching out stakeholders, whether they are faith, education, business, chamber of commerce, the Diversity Commission. There’s going to be an online community survey. They’ll also be interviewing the police officers, the police union. And they’re going to produce a video. They are going to say, this is who we think your community wants as your next police chief. There is going to be, I think, a very clear community buy-in. I’m excited about that. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a healthy thing.
We’re at a place right now where our population’s getting younger, it’s getting more diverse, changes are happening, expectations are happening in terms of what we want our police services to be. And I think we have great officers. Do I think we can be better? Absolutely. And I think whoever is our next police chief is going to help us get there, which also ties in to the police performance audit. We have an organization (the police department) that has a budget of almost $12 million and I don’t know the last time anyone has looked under the hood over there. And it’s not just what are we spending money on but where are we putting our resources and is it most effective. Part of their (the consultant’s) process is a data-driven process, so they are going to look at all the snow calls, and dispatching and logs, and sort of where are we spending time on calls and where are we being proactive. Where are the gaps. We keep on saying, ‘We need to be up on Highway 99,” I want to have the data that shows that…where are we spending our time, do we need to be doing anything differently, do we need more community engagement to prevent some of these things?
TW: Returning to questions about the former police chief process that we never got answers to. The disclosure of what was found out about Chief Pruitt and how it didn’t jibe with the police department’s own standards and all of that. From what we could tell, it sounded like that information came out around Nov. 19 and yet the appointment you had recommended was Dec. 3. Was there ever any point where you felt during that time frame you were getting information that discouraged you from making that recommendation (of Pruitt for police chief)? Did Jessica (HR Director Jessica Neill Hoyson) talk to you about it or make any recommendations about it?
MN: I’m going to go forward. There’s a multitude of reasons why I’m not going to go back and engage in sort of what the timing was of this, and when did we know this and the standards of that, and there’s a lot of disinformation out there, but it’s all fixating on something that did not at the end of the day. Yes, it was not perfect. Yes, it was messy. Yes, I’m not happy the way it went. But we didn’t hire him. So as bumpy as it was, we didn’t hire him. If I had hired him, OK. But conditional offers are made all the time in business, all the time in government and those folks — for a variety of reasons — they don’t meet the conditions, and they are not hired. And that’s what happened here. It was a conditional offer, the person didn’t meet the conditions, we didn’t end up hiring him at the end of the day. This is more having to do with, their person wasn’t selected so therefore…nobody was talking about this process before their person wasn’t selected. It could have been the best process in the world, but their person wasn’t selected. So now, all of a sudden, let’s go into finding all of the, you know, things hidden, whatever, timing of this or that. I’ve publicly been very clear about, this is what I’ve learned, this is what I’ve decided, this is what I’ve decided to do next, and that’s where we are…which is that we have a new process and I’ve learned from the previous process…and I’m very confident that we are going to get the best chief for our community.
TW: So, I will take that as a not wanting to revisit those details.
TW: Do you have some things in your head about what you want to see in a new police chief?
MN: Demonstrated leadership. I don’t just want a diverse police force, I want to see them diverse at all levels of that organization so that we are actually promoting people. Have they done that? I want to see demonstrated leadership. What are you doing to prevent gun violence? What are you doing to prevent domestic violence? Police work today is typically, something happens and you react to it. Our police department does an excellent job of reacting to crimes. No question about it. What I’m interested in, is what are we doing to prevent these crimes? When you look at domestic violence as an example, when. you look at how many homicides we’ve had in the last five years, I’ll tell you in short that the majority of them are domestic violence. What are we doing proactively, to outreach in the community, to prevent that from happening. We look at that triple shooting that happened at the (Boo Han) Market last year and a couple of issues were raised. There were language barrier issues there. The officers, they provided immediate first aid, no question they saved lives, they provided the combat tourniquets, but could we prevent those types of things from happening in the future? Are we doing enough to get out there…so the community knows, “I need to call the police or my neighbor.” ‘That’s the kind of stuff I want us to get more focused on. So I’m looking for that. I’m looking to see, ‘Where have you as a police chief done that, have you worked on preventing gun violence? What are you doing to actively prevent, so we are not having more gun violence. Those are the kinds of qualities I’m looking for. What are you doing to establish community engagement? If I look around the community at other cities, there are different departments, different police chiefs, who are going out there — police chiefs, not officers — who are going out there meeting with different community members, different groups, people of color and. making inroads. I’m just looking for demonstrated examples. Of course, there are other examples the community will want to see: traffic safety stuff, what are you doing to keep our streets safe. And that they have the resources to do that. If they are spending the time responding to call to call to call, they don’t have the time to do reactive.
TW: But how do you find that balance? Because the calls are not going to go away
MN: They’re not. Which goes back to the audit point. If I see that there’s an imbalance or out new chief sees that there’s an imbalance, if 80% or 90% of the time they are out there on calls, and 10% on proactivity and now have an informed model of this is the best way to do it — actually 25-75 or 30-70 or whatever, then that tells me, maybe we need more resources there, maybe we need to replug how we’re staffing people so they are doing that type of work. I don’t have that information and I think that’s always a problem when you’re in government. You’re always just focusing on what’s in front of you. If you do that day in and out, you have to have some bigger things that you are trying to strive to, otherwise you are just responding. I’m trying to prevent things from getting worse. Yeah, we don’t have a lot of violent crime. Our crime is mainly property crime, but I want to make sure that stays that way. And I want to make sure we have the resources in place, so it does not get to that place. I want to make sure we are getting ahead of it because by the time we are overwhelmed, it’s too late.
TW: The criticism of the earlier police chief process was, there was a perception there wasn’t transparency. It all was happening, but no one got a sense of why things were happening or how things were happening. Do you feel like that is something that you are committed to with this process — the transparency of it.
MN: We just had a Zoom call with them (the police chief search firm) today, it was our kickoff. I’m working on a public-facing timeline so I can show the public because it’s five months, so no one should feel it’s rushed. And the most important part is that candidate profile piece. So that takes one to two months. That part of it will be going out to the community, getting stakeholders involved, doing the community survey, producing a video. There’s a feedback loop to show “We got your input. We’re putting it together. Did we get it right?”
It’s an important context. Forgot COVID, forget all other challenges we’re facing right now — equity and justice, all the other things. Anytime you have a process where you’re going to bring in a new chief or potentially hire from within is contentious in any city, which is why a lot of cities just stick with an internal candidate because they don’t want to deal with that. It is not unique to just Edmonds. It is a process people feel very passionate about and very strong about. Bringing in an organization who’s helpful with that, to help smooth that process over, I am confident that they have the tools to help us do that, to make it as smooth as possible under those circumstances. Understanding what has occurred and what we’ve learned from it.
At the end of the day, the result is the same: There’s going to be finalists, people are going to be able to hear from these finalists and council is going to interview them and they are going to tell me their feedback and at the end of the day I am still going to appoint one of those finalists and they are still going to say yay or nay. That is how the process the works, that is the check and the balance.
Decision-making and leadership
TW: I watched your video on Facebook and you talked about “a small group of local people spreading fear and lies, trying to tear our city apart, said it was time to move forward.” And you also said “I was elected by the majority of you to make positive change and not maintain the status quo.” How do you quantify the number of people who support the way you are pursuing changes vs. those who might prefer a different approach? People take office and say, “I have the support of the people,” right? But yet you see this pushback and I know for you it’s probably felt sort of personal and you defined them as a small group and I don’t know whether that’s true or false. I know there are very loud people just like there are loud people on other sides of things. And I’m not talking about people who are in the camp of against progress or against diversity, equity or inclusion, but maybe it’s just how it gets done. If your philosophy is, “I was elected to make change and that’s what I’m doing,” and there are people who are saying ‘Wait a minute, maybe we need to bring people along a little bit on this.’ How do you feel you are falling on that scale?
MN: Obviously I am somebody who likes to take action. It’s just my thing. And I clearly try to take action on things that are important. We all have a short time on this planet and time is precious and there are real problems that people are experiencing. And so as much as people want to engage in who our next police chief is, I still am focusing on other things. I still need to move on what are we doing to keep our community save from COVID, what can we do as a city to get the vaccine out to more people. I’m in conversations with the fire department about how to get them out to long-term care facilities. I have the city staff calling every week and I’m hearing that 30 of the long-term care facilities aren’t getting the vaccine, and they are supposed to be at the top of the list.
This COVID thing has identified how many people are struggling and that’s why we are doing the human services thing and the social worker. There is just a lot of things that I am moving on and so I don’t feel like I just have a lot of time. Sometimes maybe am I pushing too fast. Is it too much for some people and am I learning from that? Absolutely. We’re not going fast on the police chief now. We’re going to take our time on that now. But I also think it’s the nature of the issues that I’m tackling. I’m trying to take on social justice and equity. That’s going to be pushback no matter what. If I go two miles an hour trying to tackle social justice and equity issues, how much bad stuff happens between then and a year later.
We have people who are saying “We want change.” Taking advantage of that opportunity and using that to move that forward, yes I will do that. We have people engaged, we have people informed, let’s try this out. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’m just one person. There are seven councilmembers out there. I can propose ideas, I can do things, but they can vote it down. And they do vote it down.
What motivates me is I feel there are a lot of things out there that I feel we should be doing and I’m trying to do them all and maybe sometimes I should slow down a little bit. It’s not that I’m speeding so fast that I’m not hearing what people are telling me. I do try to do that. But there is a balance. It’s like our housing situation. There are housing commission members who feel like this process (to make recommendations for housing options in Edmonds) is rushed. How long have we been doing this process? Over a year? Two years? And I know it’s because some of those people don’t want to see anything happen. I don’t think anybody with a straight face can say the process has been rushed. Could we still get more community engagement? Yeah, sure. COVID has impacted stuff but these are not new issues. And at the end of the day, whatever recommendations that housing commissioners make, they are still going to go before council and they (councilmembers) are still going to take time to digest all of it. While we are trying to get the most perfect thing, in pursuit of the perfect, along the way, we still have so many people who can’t afford to live here. We still have so more people who have a house and now they are housing unstable and they’re going to be homeless.
I did this as a councilmember and I do it now — I represent the 43,000 residents. I don’t just represent one group or another group or this group. And I do factor that in and I know that we have different ways of going about preventing gun violence. Some people think it’s preventing gun violence because we should have more guns, other people think we should prevent it by not having guns. But we all agree we don’t want to have shootouts all the time. But I want to move on these issues because I think there are so just many things we have to work on. There’s a lot of big stuff happening and to seize that momentum because there’s a lot of interest out there.
TW: One thing that I’ve heard some people say, sometimes when they watch you speak, whether it’s at a council meeting or on a video, they feel like you’re almost giving a lecture as opposed to bringing people together. And maybe that’s part of your hyper focus on getting things done. Have you ever gotten that feedback?
MN: I hope people judge me for not what I say but what I do. Maybe how I say things or the way I’m saying things may not be receptive, and that’s not my intention. Whenever I talk about stuff, I talk about a lot of stuff and I feel like I just need to get it out there. That’s helpful to hear. I don’t want to come across that way. I’m a work in progress. I want to appeal to as many people as I can, and I am my worst critic. If some people feel that way, I will try to work on that more.
TW: Anything we didn’t talk about that you want to add?
MN: We have all sorts of stuff that we are focusing on. Our economy — I was on a call with (Congresswoman) Pramila Jayapal (who represents Edmonds) and they are working on getting more local aid from the federal budget…for state and local governments. So hopefully we can get some of that and again be able to give it out to those who need it most. I think we did a really good job of doing that (giving out federal CARES Act money) by the deadline. There were a lot of communities that didn’t get their money out. Looking at working with our businesses to see if we can do the Main Street pedestrian stuff in a more semi-permanent way. We have such great feedback from pedestrians who are enjoying it. That’s something beyond COVID. We know that downtowns that have a walkable part — there’s a period of a year where people don’t know what to make of it and then it becomes that center. It’s thriving and vibrant. We saw a glimpse of that, and I want to keep that going.
We have Highway 99 –there’s so much potential there. (Read more on Highway 99 in our report on the mayor’s State of the City Address.) And the first step is this community renewal plan. What’s cool about it is, it’s based on state law and you have to go through these steps. It allows us to do public-private partnerships that we can’t do right now…to make some real investments to get some real changes there. Going back to what are we doing that’s proactive rather than reactive. We can sit there and keep sending more and police, or we can just get rid of that environment that’s creating the crime in the first place. We can bring in a more livable community up there and that’s an area that we have neglected and it’s just filled with opportunities, now that we have light rail coming through and we have a new (federal) administration, there is potential real money there to really help that. And (the idea of establishing) the satellite office — people have been talking about that. So let’s just do that. We’ve looked at some places, we think we might have a spot. I’ve got to ask council. We’ve got to get some funding. Most people agree that Highway 99 could use some focus. I’m hoping to be really a one-stop shop for every service. In addition to that, there could be classes after hours, there could be non-profits that could offer services. The sky’s the limit as to what that could turn out to be.
Our parks — people I don’t think really appreciated our parks before COVID, but we also realize, our parks need some help. We keep on seeing all those signs, “I’ll buy your home.” The developers out there are very proactive in acquiring land. We’re not proactive about acquiring open space. Can we have a land acquisition strategy where we’re proactively going out there? We have funding (approved as part of the 2021 budget) to do that now.
And then our human services program — every city is much farther along than we are doing it. And COVID has just made it worse. More people are needing more assistance and more aid. We know the food bank, the lines are doubling. Yes, some people are getting their jobs back, but they are not getting the same type of jobs back. We can provide additional help, additional services so getting that up and running.
— By Teresa Wippel