Cheryl Rakes was appointed to the Auburn City Council in January 2023 and is seeking election. Her opponent in the contest for Pos. 1, Lisa Stirgus, did not return the questionnaire sent by the Auburn Reporter in time to make this publication.
What do you consider to be the job of an Auburn City Council member?
One of the main duties is the city budget. The city council sets policies and approves all spending. Their duties is also the regulation of land use and amendment to zoning laws. The City Council is to be a voice for the residents and bring their concerns to City Hall. The city council usually gets things that the administration wants, but city council can also bring legislation to the council themselves. Your city council is always working for the people, which includes answering many emails, issuing municipal bonds, approving fees and charges, adopting state and federal legislation, confirming city department heads and volunteer members of city boards and commissions, conducting annual independent audit of the city’s finances, and council members represent the city at county, regional, state and federal committees, forums and task forces as assigned. Your city council is always working hard for the residents of Auburn.
What are the City of Auburn’s five most pressing issues as you see them in order and how should the city tackle them?
1. Shielding our community: ensuring safety and Unity in Auburn. We have to uphold our police department and give them tools they need to do the job. Budget more money to hire for officers as our city continues to grow. Community policing is so important, and we need our bike officers on the streets everyday.
2. Fostering an economic renaissance: igniting growth and opportunity in Auburn. Make it easier for businesses to do business in Auburn. Look at our permit process and see if that is preventing businesses from being able to open.
3. Breathing new life into Auburn: Commitment to community revitalization. You have to make a city and your streets to look inviting for new businesses that want to come in. We have been working hard in the downtown core, but until construction is all done from the fires it won’t be complete. Give incentives for businesses to open up in our town.
4. Working together: Cultivating engagement and collaboration in Auburn. Every department of the city needs to be involved in this. The city and the departments need to be onboard at a level that everyone understands what needs to be done to make our city what it should be again.
5. Infrastructure: This is important because our city is growing and the trend doesn’t show it is going to slow down. We need our roads, sidewalks, utilities ready for this growth to continue.
• How will your unique range of talents and abilities help the city deal with the aforementioned problems? What sets you apart from the herd?
Being the Executive Director of the Downtown Auburn Cooperatives brings a lot of experience to the Council. I have worked with all the different departments of the city and know how they run. I see the frustration of trying to get things done. I see the good works of the city also. I have taken many classes and conferences in Economic Vitality, Promotion, Design, and Organization with the Mainstreet Program and have educated myself to be able to dive into what the city needs to move forward, It brings a different perspective as a council member when those projects are presented to council that I believe non of our other council members have.
Name a concern or two you’ve had with any legislation passed to date by the Auburn City Council.
My biggest concern is the passing of the B&O taxes. I was not in office when that was voted but I would have not voted for it. We were still coming off of Covid, and businesses took a big hit because of Covid and their numbers were not up and are still not back to pre-Covid numbers. It was not the time to put that on businesses, and I felt they didn’t take that into consideration.
Are you an Auburn native, and if not where do you come from?
I am a Auburn resident. I was born in Bellingham and came to Auburn when I was 5 years old. I have been in Auburn for 63 years. I do not have any degrees because I went to trade schools and got my education along the way from experience and worked myself up.
What do you do for a living?
I am the Executive Director of Downtown Auburn Cooperative, and have been since 2019.
Tell us about your community involvement.
I was on the City Transportation board, I am on the Public Works Committee and the Human Wellness Committee. i am also the 2nd vice chair of the Auburn Noon Lions.