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Four more years: Erickson uncontested for Poulsbo mayor
POULSBO — As Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson saw this year’s campaign season over the horizon, she figured she'd better start getting prepared for another run.
“I went to order up my fliers and got 1,000 printed up,” she said. “I was moving forward like I was going to have campaign.”
But over the past few months, Erickson has found herself campaign free. She is running uncontested to keep her job at Poulsbo’s city hall.
“It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have an opponent,” Erickson said. “I’m honored and flattered because I think that’s kind of an endorsement that no one wants to run against me.”
With her first term in office almost behind her, the mayor reflects on the past four years, and looks ahead to coming challenges.
“We are in a much better place now than we were when I took office in January 2010,” Erickson said. “That’s a ‘we’ statement. It’s been a lot of good people working together to get things done ... Poulsbo in 2010 was pretty scary.”
With empty storefronts downtown and emerging financial hardships, the mayor believes that the city needed someone like her, with a mind for money, to tackle the challenges.
“It was about financial decisions,” she said. “I thought it was important for someone like myself to be in a position of leadership to make these decisions.”
Erickson came into her role as Poulsbo’s mayor in 2010 after spending a term on the city council. But her interest in local politics began long before that.
“I started getting political in 2006 after the farm was annexed and there was huge development pressure,” she said. “I was elected onto council in 2008, running on neighborhood issues and how our community was developing.”
At the time, the city of Poulsbo was growing along with its administration. But Erickson — with a background in economics, finance and accounting — was concerned about the looming financial crisis with sales taxes falling, a recession on its way, and a pending mortgage on the new city hall building.
“I thought this would be a perfect storm,” Erickson said.
The storm did come. City hall was restructured in what Erickson calls “right sizing government.”
Revitalizing Poulsbo’s downtown was another challenge. Front Street was due for a makeover with vacant storefronts and abandoned cars. The revitalization went well, but the effort isn’t over with, Erickson said. The mayor would like to spread the success of downtown to Viking Way. The area will have to develop on its own, Erickson said, but she does know what to encourage there.
“We live in a capitalistic society and that’s all private property over there,” she said. “Urban cores work when they have people. Cities are moving away from the big-box model, and they are turning into walking communities. As we redevelop Viking Avenue, you will see a move toward walking communities.”
“I see us building on what’s already there, a series of small businesses with apartments and high density residential clustered around it,” she added. “We don’t have enough residential population over there and that’s part of why it is having trouble ... you got to have people there who will walk to go have beer or get groceries.”
A west Poulsbo with high density residential housing will help ease the search for an apartment in Poulsbo too, Erickson said, currently a difficult feat.
Another issue coming down the pipe is Poulsbo’s stormwater management. The state’s Department of Ecology recently released a maximum daily load report for the area, listing its challenges. The city has five years to begin thinking about solutions to stormwater concerns, but Erickson wants to start sooner than later.
“(The report) says we have fecal coliform going into our tributaries leading to Liberty Bay,” Erickson said, further noting that of the many possible sources of the bacteria, animal droppings is the leading contributor.
To combat the problem, the city may need to address its pipes and processing facilities, but the mayor aims to have a broader plan instead of flushing it down the line.
“A lot of it will be retrofitting existing storm ponds so they process stormwater instead of storing it,” she said. “Like regional stormwater infiltration areas that will act as parks; a created wetland with walking pathways.”
Beyond the tasks ahead, Erickson notes that whatever the city faces, it will be a community effort.
“We’ve worked hard and persevered and moved forward and I think we are in a much better place than we were, and it’s only getting better,” Erickson said. “We have a lot of interesting things ahead of us.”