The Daily World is running a question and answer series with candidates for Aberdeen City Council.
Ward 5 encompasses historic and industrial waterfront areas on the Harbor as well as much of the historic downtown corridor and residences. Since incumbent John Erak died, Alan Richrod is running unopposed, though Erak’s name remains on the ballot, per state law. Richrod was appointed by City Council to fill the rest of Erak’s term.
Previous Experience in Government, Community Organizations or Leadership:
I have been an activist and interested in government since I was a kid. This is my first position on the “inside” as a formal member of government. Previously I was acting as a volunteer and concerned citizen. I am a member of the Downtown Waterfront Committee and work with the Historic Preservation and Our Aberdeen groups.
What about your personality and character make you a good fit for Aberdeen’s City Council?
I’ve spent most of my professional career involved in solving problems of one kind or another and am skilled at it. I spent 13 years in manufacturing and another 10 in the software industry. In both cases we were faced with challenges and problems to which we had to devise solutions. Over many years I have developed ways and methods of finding, defining and resolving problems. I have also been complimented by many on my ability to work with anyone which is something you have to do in order to solve the problems of a city. I don’t have the solutions but there are a lot of good people around here and through our collective wisdom we will find solutions. All problems have solutions. Like many cities, Aberdeen faces problems and challenges for the future. Together, let’s meet them.
The pay isn’t great, the hours are long and the learning curve is steep, so why do you want this job?
If one wants to become wealthy being a career politician, the city Council of Aberdeen is not the best place to do that. But the problems the city and region face will not solve themselves. The challenges of the future will have to be met. It’s not about me or any of us. It’s about all of us. It takes a village to build – or rebuild a town.
Ward 5 encompasses historic and industrial waterfront areas on the Harbor as well as much of the historic downtown corridor and residences. What issues, particular to Ward 5, concern you most?
The fifth Ward is a bit unusual in that a large number of constituents, perhaps as many as half, do not live within the ward’s boundaries but have businesses there. One of the overarching challenges to the downtown core is developing and sustaining a viable and vibrant local business community. It’s very challenging to build a locally-based center of commerce and maintain it through the years. But as examples in our own region and within our state show, the rewards can be much greater because local businesses generate revenue from local dollars which stay in the local area.
The condition and economic health of downtown has been a concern for years. What would you do as a City Council member to improve things?
As pointed out recently by Brum and Associates, the consultants entrusted with developing Aberdeen’s historic preservation plan, Aberdeen, Washington has perhaps the largest, broadest, most diverse history of perhaps any town this size in the country. Historic and cultural preservation are really hot topics right now nationwide. As the economy improves sources of funding and strategy are coming to the fore. One of my principal jobs pertaining to Ward 5 is to do whatever I can to help develop new strategies and ideas to help make Aberdeen, Washington a world renowned destination. Imagine for example the blurb in the brochure. “You have always wanted to visit the exotic Pacific Northwest. The vacation you’ll never forget starts in historic Aberdeen, Washington.” The only reason that Aberdeen is not the central destination of the Pacific Northwest and the Olympic Peninsula is because we’ve never thought of it that way. It can be, you know.
In the last five years or so there has been a tremendous up welling of community activism geared toward rebuilding Aberdeen into that destination place. Every week I find examples of things that people do, efforts being made which seem small on their surface but contribute beyond their scope to making Aberdeen a world-class city. I, as a city councilman will find ways to foster and continue those efforts. It’s not the function of the city council build the great city. Our function is rather to facilitate the citizens, all of us, building a great city. Many of the rejuvenation projects we are seeing are as the result of previous effort. The rebuilding builds on itself.