As we begin a New Year, many are reflecting on the past year and looking forward to what is ahead. In this month’s column, I will share thoughts and experiences from 2020 as well as some goals for the next year.
I had the unique opportunity to serve as Chair of the County Council during 2020. As Chair of the Council, I was responsible for setting the Council’s agenda, coordinating with other elected officials and County leadership, and at times speaking on behalf of the Council. We had many challenges last year which required all elected officials to thoughtfully and carefully respond to our community and the issues which arose.
Throughout these challenges, including but not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, and economic hardship, Snohomish County leaders worked together in a meaningful way to serve our communities. I was proud to serve as Chair working with the County Executive and my Council colleagues as we tackled these difficult issues. We invested over $140 million in CARES Act funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide relief for our residents and businesses. We listened to voices in the community calling for reforms to the criminal justice system and took careful action without falling to more extreme pressures. We adjusted to a new way of doing the people’s work while keeping ourselves, our staff, and the public as safe and healthy as possible.
Throughout all of this, Snohomish County officials worked together to make good progress on behalf of our communities. None of this would have been possible without the perspectives, thoughts, and ideas shared by Snohomish County residents on a number of important subjects. While there were many negative aspects of 2020, one of the key positives I took away was the level of community engagement to ensure that your voices were heard and that your government is responsive and accountable. I hope this will carry forward into the future.
This year, we still have much work to do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As our residents and businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 economic restrictions, we must do what we can to support them and open safely so both public health and economic health are kept at the forefront. We will be faced with challenges involving the expiration of the state’s eviction moratorium, displaced workers looking for employment, and many businesses on their last leg to stay open. Despite these challenges, I believe we have the ability to move our communities forward in a meaningful way and will accomplish that together.
I will also continue other important work on behalf of the residents of North Snohomish County. We will be bringing stakeholders together to identify solutions to the lack of rural broadband in our communities. I will also continue to work on workforce development and the continuation of the Regional Apprenticeship Pathways (RAP) Program which has opened doors to fulfilling employment for young people in Snohomish County. Housing affordability continues to be an area of focus and we will be working on solutions to remove barriers to housing affordability at all income levels.
A new year brings new opportunities in all of these ventures and I look forward to continuing to represent the residents of North Snohomish County. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your thoughts, concerns, or ideas as we move into a new year.
Nate Nehring is a member of the Snohomish County Council and represents District 1 which includes Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls, Marysville, Stanwood, and unincorporated north county. He can be reached by email at Nate.Nehring@snoco.org or by phone at (425) 388-3494.