Homelessness, housing top issues for PA city council candidates

Political newcomer aims for change

PORT ANGELES — Kalli Mae Jones has no experience as an elected official, but said she’s running for Port Angeles City Council to be the change she wants to see in the city, especially citing illegal drug use.

Jones — who’s running for the Position 7 Council seat against incumbent Deputy Mayor Brendan Meyer who did not attend — spoke to a meeting of the Port Angeles Nor’Wester Rotary on Friday where she said that upon returning to her native Port Angeles, the state of the city seemed to trouble her.

“I had the opportunity to step away when I went to college,” Jones said. “When I came back home to visit over the years I felt like there was a slow decline, if you will, in the spirit of Port Angeles.”

Friday’s meeting was meant to be a forum with both Position No. 7 candidates, but organizers said Meyer was unable to attend. Meyer did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Election Day is Nov. 7, and ballots will be mailed out Oct. 18. Voter registration is available until 8 p.m. on Election Day but online voter registration ends Oct. 30.

Formerly a pediatric nurse practitioner, Jones said she has since left the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom to her five children.

She and her husband moved back to Port Angeles in 2016 to raise their family in Jones’ hometown.

She said she had no previous elected experience but had experience in community service through Dry Creek Grange, her church and Junior American Citizens, the youth program of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The top issues facing the city according to Jones are the lack of housing available for both visitors and those looking to move to the area and homelessness, which she said was a symptom of a larger drug-abuse issue.

“I believe that Port Angeles has a crisis with drugs and I’m particularly sensitive to that having been in medicine but also having young children,” Jones said.

“(I’m) feeling like the drugs are on the streets they are getting closer and closer to our families, closer and closer to young children.”

Jones said she’d like to see more people get into treatment through the justice system and that the strong intervention of an arrest is sometimes the only thing that will push people suffering from drug addiction to get clean.

“If I was a czar for the day and money wasn’t an issue I would like to add four to 10 new positions on the police force and give the police the ability to make more arrests,” Jones said.

“I say that again from a nursing perspective, I think with this homelessness, the drug use is really causing a lot of this and people need the ability to dry out, if you will,” Jones said. “Sometimes being arrested and put in jail is the only way that will happen.”

Jones said she believed police overtime is currently being used poorly, and that the reallocation of some commissioned officer positions could free up enough money to pay for additional police positions.

When asked, Jones allowed that she had only anecdotal evidence that incarceration was a deterrent against future drug abuse, but said she saw few other ways to stop people from using drugs.

Jones also said she would do away with clean needle programs or programs that provided tents to homeless people, saying she believed those failed to get to the heart of the problem.

On housing, Jones lauded the city council for loosening regulations around zoning and accessory dwelling units and that the city should focus on providing the infrastructure to facilitate increased housing.

She said she was torn about a recent council proposal to raise sales taxes in the transportation benefits district, saying she would have preferred to put that decision to a public vote but approved of the effort to capture tourist money through the sales tax.

Jones also said she wanted to return to the basics of city functions. For transportation that meant focusing of fixing roads in need of repair rather than beautification projects.

“Instead of getting kind of hairball ideas — let’s beautify this or let’s make this right turn more difficult, you know, put a concrete barrier — I’m not a fan. I’m sure there’s a logic behind that,” Jones said. “I really would, in terms of city resources, go back to the basics, fix what needs to be fixed, and then at that point, we can work on other big projects.”

Jones said she was a good listener and had the ability to learn.

“You should vote for me because I am part of the spirit of Port Angeles,” Jones said. “The American Dream you see, being able to grow up in your hometown, leave, get professional, whatever kind of experience, come back make the town better, that is where I’m at.”

In addition to the Position 7 seat, Positions 5 and 6 are also up for election this year.

Online voter registration and additional election information is available at Washington’s election website, votewa.gov.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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