Stan Flemming plans to run for re-election for his District 7 seat on the Pierce County Council. If elected, he would serve a second four-year term and reach his term limit in 2018.
Flemming said he enjoys working as a county council member because it’s more hands-on than policy setting. His priorities for the next term would be mental health, the jail and the Shoreline Management Program.
District 7 has the largest amount of shoreline in Pierce County, Flemming said. The Shoreline Management Plan is the “granddaddy of all the issues the county has to deal with.” Flemming it accounts for a large amount of negotiating between the county, the state Department of Ecology and property owners.
The City of Gig Harbor’s work on its own variation of the shoreline plan has been collaborative with the county, he said.
That means, by the time the plan is in place for both the city and county, there shouldn’t be wide differences between the variations.
Flemming sees the county mental health system as a growing problem due to decreased funding and availability of clinicians and space at Western State Hospital. Mental health is tied to jails, he said. This past year, Flemming requested an audit of the county mental health system.
“Not because I believe it’s doing anything wrong or incorrect,” he said. “But I want to ensure that the money that’s being spent on mental health is actually going to direct services and not into administrative overhead costs.”
The jail remains is a big issue, Flemming said. The county is facing increased competition for misdemeanor prisons, whose incarceration is reimbursed. Felony prisoners do not receive reimbursement.
He wants to level the playing field and make the county jail competitive. He created a task force centered around the county jail to look at different policies to help the jail pay for itself.
The cuts to the county’s Family Support Centers is problematic, Flemming said. He wants to find a way to keep centers open so families that need support have access.
Flemming recently returned from a service trip to Haiti. He set up a clinic there several years ago after a devastating earthquake. Flemming and other volunteers worked in an orphanage school with which his clinic is affiliated, and they rebuilt a kitchen and bathroom to be sanitary and to prevent disease.
Flemming’s overarching goal with a potential final term on the county council is to deliver on his promises. He likes the term limits in place, because the timeframe holds council members to their campaign promises.
He will be run against former Gig Harbor City Council member Derek Young and former Pierce County Council member Terry Lee, who previously completed two terms and is now the executive director of the Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District.
Following the U.S. Census, the county redrew its district boundaries and Flemming, a Republican who lived in University Place at the time, was moved out of District 7. He recently moved to Gig Harbor and would be eligible to run again in the district.
Flemming said it wasn’t a move to be in the district, it was a move to stay in the district that elected him. He isn’t looking to his next move after his time on the council is over.
“I’m not asking people to elect me to a future,” he said. “I’m asking them to elect me to a present.”
Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @Gateway_Karen.