Transparency and Easy Access to Government
Technology and social media are incredible tools for bringing transparency to government. The public deserves to have easy access to documents and meetings that affect how the county works for them.
When I sought to serve as your commissioner, I committed to implementing major updates to access and transparency for the role. I am grateful to share that the weekly regular agenda meetings now consistently contain informative presentations on vital projects. Our meetings have a permanent Zoom link to make it easier for the public to attend online. I immediately created a strong social media presence for consistent updates and connection to resources and information valuable to our residents. The Commissioner’s webpage has been significantly enhanced with links to commissioner meeting schedules, agenda and document links, video links, and Zoom links to attend meetings. I host a regular, interactive, web-based townhall with guests to discuss a wide range of topics impacting our community. A major success has been the adoption of Docusign. It has proven incredibly valuable, increasing efficiency and effectiveness across channels. We will continue working to expand the platform across county departments to better serve you.
Marketing Ourselves Like a Business
First impressions count! We deserve the best and brightest, greeting and meeting all prospective visitors and investors in Yakima County. This goes hand-in-hand with increased transparency. Presenting Yakima County to the outside world as a globally important producer of high-quality agricultural products is a must. It is a privilege for me to highlight businesses and the great people who add extraordinary value to our area, residents and products. Working closely with our business and development community has been a high priority. I am excited to continue working with the Yakima County Development Association, Yakima Valley Tourism Board, Yakima Association of Realtors, Central Washington Home Builders Association, local Chambers of Commerce, Port Districts, and so many more organizations to promote Yakima County. Building and maintaining strong partnerships with these incredible organizations encourages us all to utilize private-public partnerships to create a safer, more caring and opportunity-filled place to live for our residents. What things do we do well in Yakima County? What makes us unique? We can all discover and promote them! Yakima County’s message: “Do business and live in Yakima County. You’ll be glad you did!”.
Agriculture – Harnessing Capital for the Next Generation
Working directly with growers and farmers to ensure Yakima County is pursuing cutting edge partnerships that will benefit our ag industry and its workers is vital to securing the continued legacy of prosperity our natural resources provide though hard work and ingenuity. We already grow the world’s best apples, hops and more. Yakima County must work hand-in-hand with private partners to innovate how we provide services and adopt and implement laws and ordinances to remain a global leader in food growing and harvesting. The agriculture industry continues to evolve in supply-chain ownership, product development, growing and harvesting techniques, employee interfacing, packaging and more. Helping to promote opportunities for the next great innovators in ag to come from within Yakima County is a top priority. Grassroots meet-ups have already expanded into technical training being offered in our local schools, internships created within local companies and inspiration for local youth to pursue technical jobs related to the ag industry. The next generation of agriculture innovators are home-grown in Yakima County!
Water, Water Everywhere Let’s make it happen!
Conflicting and contrary bureaucratic policies have managed to turn the conversation of meaningful water storage into decades-long meetings and results not visible to the public. The answer has been partnerships. Who would guess that 4th generation farmers would team up with members from the Sierra Club, but their goals very closely align! Water shortages have been increasing in frequency, spurring stakeholders from within Yakima County, state agencies, tribal representatives and federal agencies to speed up progress on expanding water storage in the Columbia River Basin. Washington state law is definitive in the recognition that water belongs to the public. Balancing water rights, the needs of water users and this very public resource is a challenge that must be carried on with intensity. I am proud to be leading meetings with the county Water Resources team and stakeholders from the CWHBA, YAR and Yakima County Farm Bureau to work through significant improvements to the Yakima County Water Resource System (YCWRS). It will take continued vigilance and stamina to maintain focus and momentum in the effort to harness our greatest resource. Environmentalists, food growers and daily consumers all want the same thing, an abundant supply of water.
Planning and Permitting
Changing negative perceptions and bettering Yakima County’s reputation in this area has been a major part of my focus. My goal is for Yakima County to be known locally and by our neighbors as the easiest, fastest, most user-friendly county to every person seeking our services – no matter the need. Whether it’s expanding a horse barn, turning a garage into a bedroom or developing an entire neighborhood of homes, we are here to serve you well. Every dollar invested into real estate increases the value and, subsequently, the taxes Yakima County collects. With roughly only 30% of property in Yakima County on the tax roll, we must encourage and promote landowners who choose to improve and increase their property values. The team in public services has fully embraced this commitment to providing excellent customer service. We implemented customer service surveys throughout the permitting process and continue to expand this important tool to learn where we can improve. We aim to seek out and provide solutions to applicants to ensure they have the greatest customer service experience, feel valued and appreciated for making a choice to improve their property, and to feel that the county is dedicated to finding the easiest, fastest ways to approve their project as a true partner in the process. Consistent outreach to stakeholders has been very successful in rebuilding trust and gaining valuable insight in how to be better partners. I remain committed to this spirit of partnership to enhance the dreams and goals of property owners across Yakima County.
Homelessness and Public Safety
Easily the most visible and frustrating issue facing communities large and small, homelessness is a raw and real issue that we see in nearly every corner of our beautiful county. Before beginning the role of commissioner, I knew that bringing measurable and perceived positive change would require a strong commitment to consistent ongoing private-public partnerships that work outwardly to respond to the visible impacts that serial homelessness brings to our community. This was the first big hurdle to tackle. I am proud to say that Yakima County is now the lead agency for community-wide clean-up efforts to remove illegal encampments, dumping, and blight across the county. We have spearheaded partnerships with local, state, and federal agencies, private businesses and organizations to make real, visible, and impactful changes to clean and protect our natural environment. I am committed to the continual expansion of this effort and am grateful to welcome our newest partner in this effort, the Yakima Health District.
Mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and domestic violence displace people from homes and shelters and wreak havoc on community members, government resources, and our hearts. Simply opening up spaces and increasing spending to address the issue is not a solution and often exacerbates the problem. Proactive partnerships with organizations that are motivated to help address the underlying issues that keep people on our streets and in our court system are my highest priority. Supplying temporary shelter is not a long-term solution. We must make bold commitments to programs that offer much-needed services while holding people accountable and simultaneously offering them the hope and support network they need to make lasting changes to improve their own lives.
Innovative steps to track those who receive assistance can better paint a picture of whether services are being used effectively and having a positive impact or not. When massive rental assistance dollars came to the county for distribution to those in need, I insisted we create our own system to scrub for fraudulent applications. The county team worked diligently to create a one-of-a-kind de-duplication system and soon Washington state and neighboring agencies took notice. We must always be mindful of how we spend tax-payer dollars and do our best to ensure help is received where it is intended and needed.
Embedded Designated Crisis Responders with the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies have been an innovative and successful approach to reaching people in their moment of crisis and opens doors to services that have a higher likelihood of a successful outcome than simple incarceration. When funding for DCRs was set to expire, I knew it was important to maintain this vital resource for Law Enforcement and for our community members experiencing a crisis. I advocated for the disbursement of funds from the Yakima County Mental Health Sales Tax, which was passed in 2019, to be distributed through our Human Services Department to continue this program into the future. We must be proactive, innovative, and strategic in our approach to addressing these societal issues and return our neighborhoods and communities to peaceful, safe places for everyone.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
In March of 2021, Congress enacted the American Rescue Plan Act to make direct investments into communities across the United States. Yakima County will receive $48.8 million dollars to allocate by December 31, 2026. Taking the lead on this significant project has been a humbling experience. The source of these funds is tax-payer dollars. Americans are suffering from the highest inflation in over 40 years as a result of massive spending packages passed by Congress and policies from the current presidential administration. These funds must be allocated thoughtfully and responsibly to ensure that we are good stewards of this significant resource. When drafting the executive summary, which outlines the priorities and preferred outcomes Yakima County wishes to achieve, I was very mindful of the impacts of COVID-19 across our communities. We have seen increases in drug overdoses, gang violence, domestic violence, and brazen crime. Our children have suffered the most, experiencing adverse childhood events with greater frequency and significance than ever encountered before. The mental health aspects stemming from isolation, fear, and uncertainty have impacted every resident in Yakima County. Through significant investments in projects and programs that promote Public Health, Public Safety and improve our Infrastructure, we will regain hope and brighten every corner of Yakima County through shared optimism, hard work, and helping hands. Download the application here: https://www.yakimacounty.us/2668/American-Rescue-Plan-ARPA-Act
DONATE TO THE CAMPAIGN FUND
Thank you for donating to the Amanda McKinney Campaign. The Maximum contribution for primary/general election 2020 is $2,000 per person/organization. Couples may contribute up to $4,000.
State law requires us to report the name, address, occupation, and employer of each contributor. Contributions are not tax-deductible.