Sunday, June 1, 2014

Q&A with Sissi Bruch

Below you'll find the questions I sent to County Commissioner candidate Sissi Bruch, along with her (unedited) answers. Thanks to Sissi for participating here this way. Now, read on...

1) Why are you running for County Commissioner?

Glad you asked. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, rich in history and natural resources. Though it sometimes feels like paradise, the present and future of our county present many challenges. Our poverty rate is 13.5 % and 33% of the population have incomes below $25,000. Violent crime has doubled since 2000 and similar increases have been seen in the rates of domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect. Furthermore, justice costs continue to increase at alarming rates, we’ve lost more than half of the manufacturing jobs, and we have around 2,800 fewer jobs than we did in 2000. Add that to the impacts of global warming, changing demographics (increase in Latinos and elderly), and a 40% increase in poverty of school age children - that makes for a fairly complex set of issues that will require collaboration, research and transparency to reach workable solutions. I believe I can bring that to this position and that is why I am running for County Commissioner.


2) What uniquely qualifies you to be a good County Commissioner?

I believe that my education and my experience make me a highly qualified candidate. First, my education encompasses a Bachelors in psychology, a Masters in landscape architecture, and a Ph.D. in urban planning. Secondly, my experience includes 10 years in private practice during which I worked with contractors, developers, and engineers to plan, design, and build a variety of projects such as schools, golf courses, housing, and commercial complexes. This was followed by 10 years in academia where I taught the theory and practice that supports all design and development. I covered site engineering, planning and design, ethics, and the application of local ordinances to projects. Now, I’ve spent the last 5 years working for a Native American tribe as their senior planner and the last 2 and a half years as a member of the City Council in Port Angeles. This has given me insights into issues that I believe not only impact Port Angeles, but the entire county.


3) What local/political insights does your experience as a City Council member give you that you think are pertinent to being a County Commissioner?

I believe the issues dealt with by all of our cities are not unique and could/should be addressed in a more regional manner. Take, for instance, our trash. Every city has to deal with its trash. Forks ships its trash to a different place than Port Angeles, and both pay significant amounts to haul it away. Could or should the county work with our neighboring county to come up with a local solution that saves on the shipping cost, reduces our carbon footprint, and maybe even gain some energy in the process? I believe that we need to start to thinking more locally and more sustainably when addressing our issues. 


4) As someone who is socially liberal and concerned about the environment, how do you propose to advance issues in those areas given the views of the other two Commissioners?

I have always found it important to listen and understand the views of the people I work with. Most of the time we ultimately want the same thing, but the methods of getting there are drastically different. I believe that both of the other two Commissioners want a place that is healthy and safe for their grandchildren. If we can start with understanding our similarities, we might be able to move forward. Talking the same language also helps. When I worked with developers, they were interested in making as much profit as possible from a piece of land. Our firm was able to show them that by being more environmentally friendly, they could actually gain more financially. I don’t believe that jobs and the environment need to be at odds.

5) What role do you see local resource extraction industries playing in local politics? Are their interests fairly represented, overrepresented, or underrepresented? 

I don’t know how much the local resource extraction industries influence politics, but I suspect that is well represented. I do believe that the forest industry is a major player in our county and accounted for $641,600 in timber revenue in 2013, but this was 10.8% lower than in 2012. Our industry is changing and we need to plan for these decreasing revenues. We do have other extraction or resource harvesting industries/businesses that are emerging that I believe are less represented. The salal/floral industry and the harvesting of mushrooms and seaweed are just some examples of potential new opportunities.

6) What are the three most important issues facing Clallam County today? What about in the next ten years?

I believe that the three most important issues revolve around education, infrastructure and resource use. I know this may sound like a cliché, but I truly believe that our youth are our greatest assets and our current educational system is not preparing them well to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The graduation rate has gone from 78% (2003) to 33% (2011-2012) – although this includes on-line students, this clearly is showing a problem. The average age of the engineers that sent the first man to the moon was 26. It is youths’ unlimited energy and optimism that we need around here. They teach us much and we must engage them if this county is ever to reach its true potential.

As to infrastructure, we need to make sure that basic services are updated and healthy as this is critical to economic development in this county

When it comes to resource use, besides practical and sustainable use of our natural resources, we need not forget that our most important resource is our people. Our economy in this county is changing from manufacturing and extractive to more social services and administrative (businesses and government jobs).

In the next ten years I believe we have to turn our attention to climate change. Debating whether and to what extent it is man-made diverts our attention from quantifiable evidence that it will impact us regardless of how or what we think about the issue. Clallam County is one of the most vulnerable in the state to the impact of global warming and we need to be ready to protect our people and our infrastructure. To see forecasting maps of raising water levels in Puget Sound should activate everyone to action and commitment to planning and preparation.

7) If you are not elected as a County Commissioner, will you run for City Council again? 

I don’t know, but this does not impact my current decision. Regardless, to do this job right, one must spend a lot of time and as I am still working, this leaves very little time for other endeavors. Researching and understanding the issues is the base for making good decisions. I would certainly appreciate a group of folks to help me with this job and to help educate the public on why I voted one way or another. The more everyone knows, the better Port Angeles will function. 

8) What do you envision your campaign looking like? Will you take corporate donations? Will you place a limit on how much you intend to spend?

Interesting question. I read on your blog that some folks have already assumed that my campaign will be "milktoast" even asserting that I will be a pushover compared to my opponents. Others are seemingly more interested in my divorce status or even how I chose to announce my candidacy.

Truthfully, never having run a campaign of this size, I am not exactly sure what it will end up being. I plan to talk with as many voters as I can, and try to understand the issues that are affecting this county from their point of view. As to fundraising, there are responsible corporations that might support me, but during my run for City Council, I only received donations from individual voters. I do not have a limit set on how much I will spend. It will actually depend on how much I can raise and how well my message is getting to out. Ideally, I would prefer to avoid any expenditures, but this seems impossible in this election climate.

9) Is sexism a problem within local governments in Clallam County? 

This is one issue where I have very little information, but I will seek more. I did have a disturbing conversation with one county employee that pointed to this, but I still need to do much research regarding this topic. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

10) Anything else you'd like to add?

I had a professor tell me that you get the government you deserve, as was quoted often already on this blog. This stuck with me and it became the impetus for my participation in government. I knew I could not whine about our government without putting myself out there. I’ve learned that most issues are more complicated than they seem on the surface. One will never be able to please everyone, but I know that the decisions that I make today do affect folks in the future and I spend the time to really weigh the issues so that I can sleep well at night.

In addition, we need progressive and innovative people to get involved in government. I never aspired to politics, but I realized that this is what I need to do to help create a plan that supports people, the economy and the environment. I need everyone of you that reads this blog to get involved - volunteer, donate, and take election day off to help get out the vote. 


32 comments:

  1. How come you didn't ask why she has seemed to vote with the pack with our city council, and why she has been rather timid, compared to what she claimed she would be? Past actions count, but you don't ask anything about this. I have a hard time with the platitudes presented in the answers. I don't like the excuse "I’ve learned that most issues are more complicated than they seem on the surface". All I can say, it's more "blah blah blah". Thanks for trying.

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    1. If Bill Peach has read this posting, he must be pretty happy. "Oh good. Another gentle liberal who won't fight back, because that wouldn't be gentle or liberal. She thinks we all want to understand each other! Ha!"

      I don't know what Monohon's approach will be, but Peach is going to play rough and dirty, and I just don't think Sissi is prepared to deal with that, even after all the dirty dealings she's seen on the City Council. She still sounds SO naïve and out of touch with how people really are.

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  2. Given her dismal voting record on the City Council, this just so much canned happy-happy talk from Sissi. The equivalent of electoral Spam. I'm not voting for her.

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  3. Hey Sissi, come down where ever you stand but stand on something. We'll sort it out.

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  4. Sissi:

    Your answer to question #4 shows the trap that so many good-hearted and well-meaning liberals fall into. "I'm sure the people on the other side want the same thing I do - we just differ on how to get there."

    BULLSHIT.

    The two Commissioners you refer to both care about one thing, and one thing only: Making as much money as possible. Right-wingers have ben selling out their own kids and grandkids and all the generations to come...for generations. They do not believe the same things you do, Sissi. They will deny climate change. They will say that regulations hold back economic development. They will bend over backwards to support resource extraction industries, because it is what they know, what their supporters know, and that familiarity makes it non-threatening to them.

    By taking that tack with this, you are, at heart, saying you and those two Commissioners aren't really different. That is also bullshit, and it is the kind of mushy middle that utterly fails to inspire voters, and in fact, only drives disenchantment with the political system we have. Brad Collins might well be a Port Commissioner now if he'd run a campaign highlighting the differences between him and John Calhoun. But at every public appearance they made, Brad would do the nice, polite "John and I aren't so different, really" thing. And he lost.

    Voters want to see the difference, Sissi. They want someone who stands for something. You're more worldly and educated than the sitting Commissioners - play that up. You're more future-focused and environmentally-focused than they are - play that up.

    We need someone with some fight, not someone who is naïve, and seeks "consensus" at the expense of common sense.

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    1. I agree. Enough of the "go along to get along" crap. We've been there, and are not impressed by the practitioners! You wonder why voter turn out keeps dropping?

      I like Sissi as a person. She definitely has a "good heart", and means well. If she can be brave, and step away from the fear of alienating a potential voter, maybe she can do the other things she values.

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  5. I expected more from you CK than these softball questions you lobbed her way.

    These are the sort of answers Cherie Kidd would give.

    Where's the beef, Sissi?

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    1. In my own defense...I do recognize that some of these are standard issue, boilerplate kind of questions. But they do offer the opportunity to get a sense for what is motivating the person to run for office - depending on the answers given, of course.

      I think that a couple of the questions are good, relevant ones - and ones that are unlikely to be asked by the PDN, KONP, etc. The influence of resource extraction industries here is, in my opinion, a huge issue. They're an industry whose influence affects everything that happens here. And given the recent "issues" the City and the County have faced with their female employees, I thought the sexism question was pertinent as well.

      Mind you, in hindsight, I wish I'd asked a couple of more questions, but, once they were sent out, I didn't want to keep adding to them. So it is what it is, and hopefully it will be helpful to readers here, even if in a small way, and to Sissi as well, as she tries to shape her campaign.

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  6. Better to stand up against the status-quo and lose than win and become one of "them"..Come on Sissy take some risk.

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  7. So, let me get this straight...Linda Barnfather gets undercut by the men in her own party...Dale Holiday gets undercut by the men in her own party...Yvonne Zimkowski gets thrown overboard by Kent Myers...The one woman at the county with 20 years of human resources experience gets passed over for a man with no human resources experience - to run the human resources department...The prosecuting attorney hires his buddy who's been accused of sexual harassment...And even Sissi Bruch herself got conned and fleeced by the men (primarily Matthew Randazzo) in the Democratic party when she ran for city council...

    ...and yet, Sissi Bruch says "This is one issue where I have very little information, but I will seek more."

    Yeah. Let us know what you uncover, Sissi.

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    1. you are kidding, right?

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  8. Weak, waffling answers from a weak, waffling candidate.

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  10. These answers are a strange combination of way too detailed responses (that aren't necessarily going to resonate with voters) and vague, naïve responses (that aren't necessarily going to pass muster with those who DO pay close attention to the details of local politics).

    Still, it is kind of funny that, in response to a question about her experience on the City Council, Sissi chooses to talk about trash. Maybe this is an editorial comment on her part?

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  12. Posters: I have posted my perspective on the Tom Harper subject in a discussion chain on the previous posting.

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    1. Tom Harper is a pretty lousy human being.

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    2. They say people who are verbally abusive can often grow into being physically abusive. Well, we all know how verbally abusive Tom Harper's been on his blog for quite some time now.

      So...It's not much of a stretch, sadly, to see something like this. It'll be interesting to see if the PDN covers it in any way. I kind of doubt they will, because to acknowledge there are blogs is to acknowledge there are other sources of information besides their own.

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    3. Hopefully Catherine will want to press charges, to at least break the cycle of abuse. From what I understand, if the victim DOESN'T want to press charges, the authorities usually drop them. Which is crazy, but...That's our legal system. Putting the abuser back in the home with the abused. Crazy.

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  13. Now the city is making noises about cutting loose from the so-called "smart meters." Just like Max Mania was advocating over a year ago.

    So that's the usual process. Attack the messenger, destroy the messenger, then ultimately admit that the message he was bringing was correct.

    It's a shame Sissi hasn't been more in the lead on this. It's the right thing to do, and it would be a popular thing as well.

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    1. Sissi needs to take the lead on SOMETHING other than trying to lead herself to a bigger paycheck from the county than she gets from the city. To get voters to support a (literal) raise like that, Sissi, we need to see that you've been in there slugging away, not just going along to get along.

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  14. Someone ask Sissi how she feels about Port Angeles United taking their meetings underground and prohibiting the press. Have syrup ready for the waffle.

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  15. How about asking all candidates for County Commissioner what their stance is on the fact that many of their employees have no contract and have suffered a dramatic pay cut through two years of furloughs, and now 37.5 hour weeks, with the County wanting to cut it further even to 36 hours per week. The leaders need to grow a spine and find another revenue source or increase taxes somewhere so the burden is spread across all county residents, not just punishing their employees because they can.

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  16. I'm not seeing a whole lot of enthusiasm here...I know the nature of blogs is to be critical, but still...This doesn't seem to have been a warm reception, even though the audience would seem to be (in theory!) in your court, Sissi.

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  17. FYI: As of this morning, this blog has blasted past 25,000 pageviews since starting. I continue to be amazed by the numbers that come in. Thanks to everyone who participates.

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    1. That's a lot of potential voters reading, I would imagine...Looking for something to inspire them...

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  18. Once again, we will watch the more "liberal" leaning folks tear apart their own candidates for not being Jesus Christ incarnate, and once again, the Right wing will unify in their goals to get control of the governance of the area, and the community will drag along for a few more years.

    If only others were as perfect as you are, right?

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    1. It's tough on both ends for progressive candidates here. When they're running, their own supporters (and sometimes their own political party) seem to be dragging them down. Then, if they get elected, the people who voted for them vanish, leaving them without a show of support when they need it.

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  19. I just found Sissi's campaign website. It is pretty awful. It's too big for my (average sized) computer screen, so part of it gets cut off unless I click to the right. It's one big, long scroll, instead of pages. And, as is typical for Sissi, it actually contains too much information, too much for most people to read. Her puny list of "endorsements," with some names misspelled, is also pretty sad.

    Sissi's so smart in many ways, but she's not smart enough to see she won't make it through the primary.

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    1. She did make it through the primary. Count me as a Sissi supporter - and I can spell my own name correctly. Kathy Hathaway

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  20. Question 9 is particularly interesting in the face of the wind turbine fiasco. Maybe she should have "sought more" for the turbine issue instead of voting for something blindly. Colossal idiot.

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