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Poulsbo for All Steering Committee Inaugural meeting

Minutes Chairs: Carollynn Zimmers, Pam Keeley Present: Zimmers, Keeley, Brian Collins, Roy Pardee, Lauren Lesser, Mark Walker, Maria Fergus, Claudia Gorbman

Following introductions all around, the focus was: what is Poulsbo for All’s purpose as an organization? Pam suggested these three functions:

1. Monitor the meetings of the City Council and its committees

2. Hold monthly community forums; educating the public about issues of local interest and concern

3. Recruit and support candidates for City Council (there will be 4 positions open in 2023).

Keeley advocates that PfA serve as a watchdog, both so that members can get educated about the workings of city government and so that we can call out the occasions on which city leaders fail to follow their own stated commitment to equity and access for all. Zimmers commented that Kitsap ERACE (Equity, Race, and Community Engagement) is also planning for citizen observation; perhaps PfA and ERACE can coordinate. Pardee asked whether the Council and committees publish minutes, which could reduce PfA’s labor. Keeley said that city govt’s ability to communicate to the public has been spotty and limited. Gorbman pointed out that city govt’s version of minutes might differ substantially from a more critical (PfA) version.

The group mainly discussed two issues of importance: the pressing need for affordable housing, and race equity. In response to public pressure, Mayor Erickson had the City join GARE (Govt. Alliance on Race and Equity), a national network that provides tools and resources for achieving racial equity, but the City has done little to nothing with it—the Mayor assigned councilor Britt Livdahl to be “the GARE person.” Unlike other municipalities in Kitsap County, Poulsbo’s City Council has also avoided establishing a REAC or Racial Equity Advocacy Committee (a citizen’s advisory committee on race). The REACs of Bainbridge and Bremerton recently held a joint meeting on Zoom, attended by councilor Livdahl. Walker suggested changing the at-large system of City Council representation to a district system. He volunteers to explore this possibility.

Regarding #3 above, Keeley advised that her write-in City Council campaign in fall 2021 produced tools and infrastructure, which PfA can mobilize to support future candidates. (E.g., building website and Facebook presence, prepping for forums and interviews, gaining endorsements, doing phone banks, canvassing door to door.) Gorbman raised the question of class: in light of the very small salary paid to City Council members, who can afford to run for City Council aside from those who are financially comfortable?

Regarding #2 above, the group discussed ways to educate the public, in addition to PfA's website and Facebook page. Walker suggested investigating whether public access TV would be useful. Zimmers and Keeley suggested a newsletter. Zimmers would convey a newsletter via her large email network. Keeley advocates a hard copy newsletter, and Lesser endorsed this idea. A one-page (weekly? biweekly? monthly?) newsletter could be distributed at friendly businesses, in the library, and/or by PfA members door to door. Walker and Gorbman agreed to work on a newsletter. Lesser inquired about political party affiliation. All agreed that PfA is nonpartisan, though individual candidates supported by PfA may seek endorsements and material support through the party they affiliate with. Keeley has been monitoring almost all City Council and committee meetings.

The work of monitoring will now be shared. Collins committed to monitoring the Council’s meetings of March 2 and 16, and the Planning & Economic Development Committee. - Fergus will monitor the Housing, Health, & Human Services committee. - We still need someone to attend the meetings of the Public Works committee, Community Services committee, Finance & Administration committee, and Public Safety / Legal committee. Zimmers will determine what meetings she can monitor.

Still to be heard from: Pardee, Lesser, Gorbman, Walker. Each volunteer monitor will report back to the group on issues of importance. If you tell her the time stamp and link to the Zoom recording, Zimmers also volunteers to make excerpts of key moments in a meeting you monitor.

These video clips can be very useful for the PfA website. Starting at next month’s meeting, PfA will gratefully acknowledge that we meet and live on the lands of the Suquamish and the Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes.

The next meeting will be by Zoom on Thursday, March 24, at 4:00pm. Take a look if you haven’t yet.

Contribute, &/or give feedback to Pam: Website and blog Facebook group

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