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Backus enters Auburn mayoral race
Passionate about the city she grew up in and determined to take on its most difficult challenges, Nancy Backus says she is ready to serve Auburn as its next mayor.
"I want to help a city I love so much," said Backus, who announced her candidacy this week.
Backus, the deputy mayor and a 10-year City Council member, is the third candidate to commit early to the mayoral race, joining Scot Pondelick, an Iraq war veteran, and locksmith Frank Lonergan.
Pete Lewis has decided not to pursue a fourth term in office.
If elected in November, Backus would become the city's first female mayor. Backus – endorsed by Lewis and other city officials – says her credentials and extensive work in the community make her a good fit for the job.
"I'm real excited. It's a lot of work," Backus said. "My family and I have talked about it for a long time. It's really what we want to do, and I have their full support. I feel very blessed and very thankful that I can pursue something I feel passionate about."
Backus was first appointed to the council in July 2003 after Jeanne Barber retired and has since been elected three times to the council. She serves as chair of the City's Planning and Community Development Committee, the Council Operations Committee and leads the Committee of the Whole meetings.
Backus has worked for The Boeing Company for 24 years in finance-related roles. A manager in cost management, Backus also has held leadership positions in financial accounting.
"My years of experience creating and analyzing financial statements and budgeting for Boeing definitely benefit our city – especially in these difficult financial times," Backus said. "Auburn deserves a leader who can make the difficult financial decisions and keep us moving forward in a positive way."
Backus says it's important to maintain and grow levels of basic service in the community, even when there are fewer dollars to spend.
Lewis and the council have kept the City in good fiscal shape, surviving the throes of a deep recession, Backus said. She wants to build on that.
"Auburn is in reasonably good shape when you look at some of the cities around us. We have weathered the storm better," Backus said.
Roads, parks among her priorities
Improving roads, maintaining and strengthening basic services and making way for strong economic development – not just in the downtown sector, but elsewhere – are among her priorities.
"Definitely roads are a big issue for our city," Backus said. "We have not been able to fund roads, and I know that's one of the things Pete still wants to work on during the remainder of his term, and I'm fully supportive of that.
"I want to ensure that we maintain and continue to grow our parks," she said. "... You need quality of life for the people who live in your city, and having good parks is one of the things that will bring other people and businesses to our city."
Backus says she understands the importance of partnerships and intends to continue finding new partners and new ways to keep Auburn a great place to live.
"I appreciate the leadership provided by Mayor Lewis over the past 12 years, and the partnerships he has created," Backus said. "We may have different styles, but they work for us."
Her goal is to engage more with the City employees and listen to their ideas.
"I don't have all the answers," Backus said, "but I know that working as a team and surrounding myself with great people is the way to learn more and make our City even better."
Michael Hursh, advisor to the mayor, will serve as Backus' campaign chair and former councilmember Lynn Norman will be her senior advisor.
In addition to her work with the City, Backus is on the board of the Valley Regional Fire Authority, actively participates in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, and has served with the National League of Cities Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations Policy Committee, as well as a two-year term as president of the Washington Elementary PTA.
Backus recently retired as president of the Miss Auburn Scholarship Program after 33 years. The program has grown, with $400,000-plus being awarded to contestants during her tenure.
Backus, a 1979 Auburn High School graduate, earned her associate of arts degree from Green River Community College in 1981 before receiving her bachelors of science degree in accounting a few years later.
Backus and her husband, Kemon, have been married for 15 years and have a 14-year-old daughter, Lucky.
"My family has made sacrifices to allow me to do what I do, and I love them even more because of that," Backus said. "It's not easy balancing a family and a career or two, but because of their love and support, I get to do what I love."