Rud Browne: My Issues & Priorities
Since I was elected to the Whatcom County Council in 2013 my first goal was to see that everyone has a voice, is treated fairly and with respect. I have actively reached across the political spectrum to make sure as many people as possible have an opportunity to be heard. I enjoy the challenge of large complex problems, and I have worked hard to research the issues we have dealt with before making the best decision I could.
If I have the honor of being elected the State House of Representatives you can expect me to tackle complex issues such as supporting comprehensive education programs and robust health care reform.
Some of the local issues I have worked on while I have been on the Whatcom County Council are:
Increasing the number of new Family Wage Jobs.
As someone who previously built and ran a business that employed 360 people (140 in WA) I truly recognize and understand how to create family wage jobs.
I want to see Washington State create and attract more family wages jobs without damaging our existing natural environment or current employment base. I see economic development as primarily a private sector role, in part because it requires a degree of risk that governments rarely have the appetite or skill to manage effectively. But, I also recognize that good government regulations that don’t create unnecessary compliance burdens can encourage and increase job creation, while bad regulations and high compliance costs can do the opposite.
The job market for our kids is going to change dramatically as automation and artificial intelligence becomes more commonplace. I have been the leading voice on the County Council to encourage promoting and leveraging of our community’s strengths, especially in the technology and recreation sectors. We need to be proactive in attracting the next generation of family wage employers this community needs in order to thrive.
Click on NewJobs to see some of my work on this issue
Balancing the water needs of Families, Farms & Fish
The Washington Supreme Court ruling (called the Hirst decision) on permit-exempt wells generated strong emotions. It’s true that our water is finite and that over-use is impacting stream flows in the summer. It’s also true that for over a year many citizens were not able to build homes for their families on land they bought for that purpose. This helped push housing prices up everywhere. Balancing the water needs of Families, Farms & Fish is not easy as water has become the most important currency in the world.
Our community has a long history of taking care of our environment and each other – it’s part of what drew many of us here in the first place. Water policy has to be perceived as fair to everyone. I believe our residents want its leaders to balance both our fiscal and water budgets in a way that treats our environment carefully and protects the right for everyone to live within it fairly. The great challenge to good sustainability policy is its four dimensions. For policy to be truly sustainable, I believe it has to be environmentally, economically, legally and politically sustainable.
Click on NetZeroWater to see some of my work on this issue
Modernizing the criminal justice system
There is much more that can and should be done to divert those with mental or substance abuse problems away from our jails. We also need to significantly expand the use of alternatives to incarceration, particularly for youth, the poor, those experiencing homelessness and first time offenders. We have to stop keeping poor people in jail because they can’t come up with the bail/bond money necessary to be released.
I support diversion and incarceration prevention programs and want to see them expanded. Our primary focus should be to deal with the root cause of the problems (poverty, homelessness, mental illness, adverse childhood experiences, self-medication, etc.) and use comprehensive intervention early in the cycle.
The Housing Affordability crisis
We need to continue looking for ways to make housing more affordable, particularly entry level housing. Land supply is limited, construction costs are going up, and the unprecedented demand for homes in Puget Sound is driving up prices. We must find innovative ways to make housing affordable or our children and grandchildren will not be able to live here.
Protecting our environment
I sincerely believe that our quality of life and stunning natural environment makes Washington State one of the best places on the planet to raise a family: it’s a big part of why I came here. Protecting our natural environment, access to clean water and preserving our stunning recreation resources also makes good business sense. One of the best ways to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs in the growth industries (such as software, and robotic assisted manufacturing) is to provide them with a great, well-educated labor pool and a clean healthy environment for their families and employees to live, work and play. Washington State is the perfect place for this and I want to keep it that way.
I believe that people experiencing homelessness, particularly youth homelessness is a significant problem. Reducing it is not only good social policy it’s also good fiscal policy. The earlier we can help someone find a way to be free from living on the streets the better it is for them and the lower the costs to the community.
I believe we have made progress towards solving some of the key issues our community is facing, but there is still much to be done.