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Press Release: Incumbent Orting Councilmember Running for Re-Election on Public Safety Goals
By: Vote Penner
May 04, 2015
For Immediate Release
Incumbent Orting Councilmember Running for
Re-Election on Public Safety Goals
Four years ago, Orting voters elected Josh Penner to represent them as a voice for bringing sustainable business to Orting. Today Councilman and Deputy Mayor Penner believes Orting has a lot to be proud of and is declaring his re-election candidacy and a new set of public safety goals.
“I’m very proud that during a historic recession, we committed ourselves to fiscal responsibility and were still able to provide core services to the citizens of Orting. We re-vitalized the downtown park, assisted in providing a new dog park, built the new Gratzer park baseball and softball fields, re-paved 30% of our roads, funded and constructed a new levy, funded an additional police officer, and implemented an automated utility bill payment solution. We did all this, while other cities were reducing services and borrowing from reserve funds to balance their budget.” Said, Penner.
Councilman Penner says he provided personal leadership during his first term in leading the team that brought Orting citizens a new means of viewing and paying utility bills online. He was also instrumental in championing an idea proposed by staff, to bring in a lobbyist that ultimately saved the community as much as $15 million dollars in construction costs for the Callistoga Setback Levy.
In 2014, Orting’s attention turned sharply to public safety in the wake of a tragic crime in the city; Councilman Penner says he continued to demonstrate sound leadership during this difficult time.
“After the Mike Compton murder, there was tremendous public interest in the city’s reaction. I organized the first community-council input meetings, seeking to hear from the community how we might be able to provide better public safety services.”
As citizens formed groups to patrol streets and engage in very public and often incendiary debates, Councilman Penner worked with community members to continue seeking answers and support. He helped create forums like the Orting Citizens Blotter and the Whitehawk HOA Facebook pages.
Penner says, “I helped create those forums so that citizens could have a safe place to share their concerns and opinions without being bullied, harassed, or intimidated. As a result of this, the citizens of Orting are now extraordinarily well connected and well informed about news in their community.”
A quick read of the Orting Citizens Blotter will show you that the intent of the page to discuss crime now seems to take a side to organizing community events, raising money for various causes, finding lost pets, and general information seeking. In a town of 7,500, nearly 3,000 of them share their thoughts on the community and on public safety, using the page.
In late 2014, the Orting City Council honored Josh Penner as their Deputy Mayor and new chair of the Public Safety committee for 2015. As the new Deputy Mayor as well as the newly appointed chair of Orting’s Public Safety council committee, Councilman Penner says he is committed to addressing the community of Orting’s continued concerns about crime and police level of service.
According to Penner, “After having been appointed to chair the public safety committee, I started to build on the work of the previous committee and chair, as well as engage with other council-members, the mayor, the chief, and city staff to adopt a set of goals for 2015. I believe these goals are a direct reflection of what we hear as leaders, from our constituents. I also believe they are good policy and by the time we deliver on them to the council and community, they will be sustainable.”
These goals would have the city raising the number of uniformed officers to 13.5, up from the 11 officers that are currently authorized. According to Penner, this would be enough to have two police officers on during every shift. Other goals would have the police department pursue a rigorous accreditation that few departments in Washington have been able to accomplish. To pay for this Councilman Penner says the committee will produce a funding plan that will have to be adopted by the council or presented for a public vote with the support of the council. Penner says this will be delivered by the budget season in 2015, which begins with early budget drafts as soon as August.
Councilman Penner will be filing for re-election on May 11, 2015. He expects a great deal of interest in the four open seats, including his own. But shows a steady confidence that his record of accomplishing goals during his first term and his openly disclosed goals for his second term will resonate with the “show me what you can do” mentality of Orting families.
According to Penner, “I began my first term focused on fiscal responsibility and creating a business friendly environment. In many ways, I helped to accomplish this. In fact, we are starting to see interest from a number of new commercial retailers. And, I remain a stalwart supporter of bringing people into town to do business. However, as we learned in a very hard lesson last year, public safety has to be a basic piece of this same conversation.”
He added, for emphasis, “Public safety is fundamental to a thriving community.”
Councilmember Penner’s re-election page is: www.VotePenner.com
He can be reached at: josh@VotePenner.com
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