SEQUIM — Rachel Anderson — a business college student, wife and mother of three, a nonprofit/low-income family advocate and Sequim native — has been appointed the newest Sequim City Council member.
Anderson, 30, will fill the seat of former mayor and council member Dennis Smith, who resigned in January.
“I thank everyone for the opportunity,” Anderson said at the end of a virtual special meeting on Tuesday.
“I hope that I can live up to the residents of Sequim’s expectations (and) I hope I can represent them well. I look forward to working with everyone.”
Anderson was one of nine people seeking the appointment, the fourth in a year. Others were Janine Bocciardi, Cynthia Dinan, Kathy Downer, Vicki Lowe, Daryl Ness, Lowell Rathbun, David Rich and Autumn Wolfgang.
Three candidates — Dinan, Ness and Wolfgang — withdrew their nominations prior to council interviews.
Anderson will serve Smith’s unexpired term through the end of 2021 and plans to run for the seat in November, when five seats will be up for election. The other four are those held by Sarah Kincaid (Position 2), Mike Pence (Position 3), Brandon Janisse (Position 5) and Keith Larkin (Position 6).
After a 30-minute executive session, Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell nominated Anderson, Larkin nominated Downer and Mayor William Armacost nominated Rich.
At least four city council members needed to vote in favor of a successful appointee.
In the first round of votes, Ferrell, Janisse and Kincaid voted for Anderson, Larkin and Pence for Downer and Armacost for Rich.
Choices were narrowed to two candidates, and Anderson won the majority over Downer.
“We’re excited to have your youthful energy,” Armacost said.
In reference to the general election in November 2021, Armacost said he “looks forward to a robust season ahead.”
‘Still in shock’
In a Wednesday phone interview, Anderson said she was still in shock from being selected.
“I was really hoping to be appointed, but I was worried they wouldn’t pick me because I’m so young,” she said.
“It’s exciting to have a younger perspective. My main goal is hopefully to represent everybody, and it’s important families are heard.”
In an applicant forum on Feb. 9 hosted by the Sequim Good Governance League, Anderson said she didn’t feel she’d be selected, but if she wasn’t, she would file to run in the November election.
“I’m really excited they are willing to work with someone like me,” Anderson said Wednesday.
Her first meeting will be the Feb. 22 regular City Council meeting.
Anderson has been a community volunteer since 2017. She now serves on the Sequim Education Foundation board, Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) board as a low-income family representative, and she chairs OlyCAP’s Headstart Policy Council.
Anderson said her intention to stay committed to those assignments along with serving on the City Council.
Last quarter, she earned an associate’s degree in business administration from Peninsula College and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in applied management.
Anderson graduated from Sequim High School in 2008 and left for about two years before she returned to the area in 2011. She and her husband Tristan have three children: Vincent, 9, Terra, 8, and Luna, 2.
Throughout her applications and question-and-answer sessions, Anderson prioritized low income/workforce housing for families.
Housing is “hitting a lot of people really hard right now,” she said in answer to a question from Pence.
“I’m pretty terrified with the rental moratorium (when/if it’s lifted) to see when they’re kicked out of their houses because they can’t afford rent.”
In a phone interview, Anderson said she hopes the city can partner with developers to promote affordable housing, whether it’s tiny homes, apartments, modular homes, duplexes and/or some combination.
“Those could really help the community, and I definitely want to ask staff what our barriers are,” she said.
Across the aisle
Anderson said she wants to “try and help and build trust back with the community” after a negative light was shone on it in national and regional coverage.
“I really just want to bring people back together,” she said Wednesday. “I find it fascinating and detrimental that people are so divided.
“Just because one person is a Democrat and another is Republican doesn’t mean we can’t find a common ground and try our best to make Sequim a better place for everyone.”
When asked by Armacost about dealing with adversity, Anderson said she’d share the truth and that while she and another person may not see eye-to-eye, she would still respect that person.
“(What they’re saying) may not be the full truth, but I’d still respect their right to speak,” she said.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].