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Birdie Hensley is running for council position 2 in Electric City

 

"I'm always interested in the places I live and what's going on and I'd like to be a part of it," Birdie Hensley said about running for reelection on the city council. "If you're not on the council you don't know what the heck's going on."

Hensley has served six non-consecutive years on the council, and is currently finishing a four-year term.

Hensley spoke to some of the limits and frustrations of being on the council.

"What the people don't understand is there's a lot of things we'd like to do or not do in the city, and we don't have control of it," she said. "They're putting five-foot sidewalks in, and I'm thinking, 'those are pretty big sidewalks,' but that's not our decision, that's from the state. As far as parking, it's the same way. We have to go to parallel parking [along Coulee Boulevard] and that's because of the width of the road; we don't have that control. I'd like to not pull that parking out, it's such an inconvenience; but those decisions, we don't get to make them at our level. We tried. A lot of those decisions are made way beyond us."

Hensley also said she may have voted differently on certain issues had she had more information at the time.

"Everyday things come up," Hensley continued. "We just got an ordinance again about the fireworks. I thought that was all done. Well, now there's some other things we have to come up with or not come up with. There's things like that that come up every day."

Hensley said she feels the current government in Electric City is trying to take things in a good direction, and keep the town alive. "You can't just take an old town like we have and make it perfect. If we could just wipe out the town and build a new town then you'd get a lot of things, but we can't do that."

On recent criticisms of the city, Hensley said a lot of the issues come from communication problems, echoing the sentiments of others seeking reelection to the council.

"I think on any project, anything, the only people that come out are the negative," she said. "You hardly ever have somebody show up to the council meeting and say 'I just came down to say how great you guys are doing. And that's not just Electric City, that's everything, every business, every organization.

Hensley said communication is something that needs to be improved, not just in Electric City, but in other towns and organizations.

"I don't think the council's guilty, or the citizens, it's both," she said. "I can talk about sides that they've both done things wrong. The city has tried and tried to put things out. Nobody shows up until they have a negative part. We're not guilty of that, the citizens aren't guilty of that; it's just human nature."

On the topic of consolidating local towns, Hensley said that "enough people are for it, I think it's a good idea. ... It could really tie the community together to do four towns. Or if we do two and two, it could put another block in again and seperate the towns. ... A lot of people think full consolidation would be better because we'd work as one town. I don't have a definite idea of what I'd like to see. I'd like to see some figures and some of the basics on that."

Hensley first came to the area 52 years ago working at Grand Coulee Dam's Third Powerhouse as an engineering technician, "basically a draftsman," where she worked for 20 years before moving to Hoover Dam. She spent 11 years there and became a powerhouse operator through an apprenticeship program, coming back to the Coulee area in 1998 and working as a powerhouse operator at Grand Coulee until the year 2000.

Hensley is or has been involved in various community activities, including being an officer in the chamber of commerce, involved with 4H, serving as an officer in The Lions Club, being a Spring Canyon trustee, running the Pioneer Museum, being on a local economic development committee and more.

"I support a lot of organizations," she said. "I don't just support one. I feel that I have a lot better communication with a lot wider group of people in town."

As a Grant Transit Authority representative in the past, Hensley had a plan for a bus route that would run from Elmer City to Electric City and would go to "every grocery store, every bank, every doctor/dentist," on a two-hour route.

"As everyone knows in this community, we belong to Grant County, but they don't recognize us a lot," she said about the roadblocks to getting things like that bus route implemented. "Everything goes down in the basin. Same with Okanogan and Douglas (counties)."

Hensley is happy to see people running for office, and wishes there were even more running so that there would be a primary election.

As it is, Electric City voters will choose between Hensley and Bob Rupe for council Position 2 in the general election Nov. 5.

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