The terms of three Yakima City Council Representatives end in December in time for three new elected council members to take their places.
Kay Funk in District 4, Brad Hill in District 6 and Jason White in District 2 were elected to council in 2017 and have served through several changes in key city personnel, annual budget reviews and the pandemic of COVID-19. Janice Deccio, Matt Brown and Danny Herrera will take their places from January 4.
Mayor Patricia Byers recognized the accomplishments of outgoing council members at the December 14 council meeting.
Byers said Funk used his time on council to tackle homelessness; economic development; equity, diversity and inclusion; and public safety. Funk was elected to Yakima City Council after a career as a family doctor.
“Board member Funk brought her considerable professional knowledge to advocate for greater transparency in hospital finances by lobbying the legislature to make changes to reporting requirements,” said Byers.
Funk and her husband will be moving to San Mateo, Calif. In the New Year to be closer to their family.
Byers said Hill touched on homelessness, transportation infrastructure, economic development, public safety and community living during his tenure on the board.
Hill had a military career and is the director of the Fort Simcoe Job Corps.
Hill said he was proud of the county’s budgeting efforts to increase the city’s reserve funds.
âI think the city is in a much better place than it was four years ago in this regard,â Hill said at the meeting.
Hill also said he enjoyed getting to know and working with the women on council and municipal staff.
âThroughout my tenure, I think the most distinctive honor has been serving with over 700 city employees, each of them,â said Hill.
Byers said White was involved in public safety, community living and gang violence while representing District 2.
âBoard member White has been a strong advocate for small business owners, whom he has repeatedly described as the backbone of the community’s economy,â said Byers. A small business owner himself, Councilor White urged the city to improve processes for local family businesses to enable them to grow and prosper. “
White did not attend the last regular business meeting of his four-year term and has not attended council meetings regularly since June 2020, although he continues to receive his monthly allowance from the city. Yakima voters approved an attendance requirement for council members in November.
The Yakima Herald-Republic interviewed Funk at the end of his tenure. Hill and White did not respond to requests to participate.
What is the most important bill or legislative act that Yakima City Council has developed or adopted during your tenure?
Funk said she was excited about the new sustainability committee and the anaerobic digester project. The city is seeking a grant to fund the project, which would use microorganisms to break down organic waste.
Funk said she was also proud of the work the council has done on the truth and reconciliation discussion that began in 2020 and the transparency of the Yakima Police Department.
âI think our police department does a great job with race relations and with their primary job,â Funk said. âOur conversations gave us opportunities to develop and improve data and put us in a good position for the next steps. “
What issues still need to be addressed by the board? How should the next council undertake these projects?
âI was very frustrated with the lack of progress on affordable housing and the lack of progress on homelessness,â said Funk.
Funk said the homelessness action plan does not have real options for low-cost housing.
âI think what would help take these terribly vulnerable people off the city streets and put them in a safer situation would be a personal space with a lockable door,â she said. âThere are several models available, but nowhere is this part of our five-year plan for the homeless. “
She said she was delighted that the city was providing facilities for homeless people by designating a parking lot where people who live in their cars can park safely.
Funk said she was also concerned about the ability of Yakima City Council, city staff and other offices to work together. She said the next council should work to improve communication between county, city, Homeless Network and other groups that control disbursements of housing related funds.
âAt the moment, we don’t have enough reports,â Funk said. “They have to be held accountable in this way.”
Was time used effectively in board meetings? Are there aspects of the meeting process that could be improved?
âThe first two years that I was on the board, the meeting process was appalling and chaotic,â said Funk. âMayor Byers has done a much better job of keeping meetings on track with good parliamentary procedure. “
Board meetings are typically where the board finalizes plans, authorizes them and takes responsibility for their decisions, Funk said.
âEverything that comes to the board meeting needs to be pre-processed and worked out in order to use the board’s time effectively,â Funk said.
She said there should be an accountability system so board members can monitor progress and how projects flow through the system.
What advice do you give to new board members?
âThe important thing is to keep the process honest,â Funk said. âTransparency is always good. Responsibility is always good. The facts are always good. Angry discussion and venting his feelings? Very bad.”
Funk said COVID-19 relief and infrastructure funds would provide great opportunities to fund projects, and she said the use of those funds should be closely monitored.