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Sep 25

Testing Our Professional Courage - Jennifer Phillips, Summer 2020

Posted on September 25, 2020 at 10:43 AM by Becky Range

The past few months have truly tested our personal and professional courage, emotions and stamina. As cities around the country grapple with the challenges of a pandemic and racial unrest, I am even more committed to ensuring our organization prioritizes the public safety and well-being for each and every member of our Bothell community. In such trying times, I am acutely reminded how important it is for our organization to be compassionate, flexible, and efficient.

As we follow the state’s “Safe Start” plan, we continue to ask residents and businesses to follow the guidance of their county health district. On Friday, June 5th, Snohomish County moved to Phase 2 and King County moved to modified Phase 1. King County has also just applied to move to Phase 2.

Like most cities, COVID has had a devastating impact on our already challenging financial situation. To address a budget shortfall in 2020 and to continue savings into 2021-22, we had to layoff and furlough employees, resulting in city hall closures every other Friday. I can tell you, these decisions were so difficult. These individuals made meaningful and valuable contributions to our organization and community, and they will be deeply missed. As we prioritize services, it’s hard to label programs as “non-essential”, as all are important. But, in order to keep our community and infrastructure safe, and yet remain financially solvent, we must prioritize our public safety and public works services. Over the last few months, our firefighters, police officers and crews have done just that, working long hours and shifts to keep us safe – we thank them.

As we continue to meet social distancing requirements and reduce costs, this summer will look different. We won’t have our beloved July 4th parade, but we hope you will participate in this year’s unique, one-of-a-kind Porch Parade! Summer concerts and camps might be canceled, but we know our non-profits, community groups, and families are creatively adjusting and finding safe ways to build community.

At a recent council meeting on June 9th, I shared my thoughts on recent national police brutality, our organizational values, and our foundation of trust, equity, and compassion. Racism and ignorance cannot be tolerated.

I trust our Bothell Police Department leadership and officers. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen them supporting multiple peaceful protests and standing with community members to confront and examine racial discrimination. I hope you have had a chance to learn more about them and hear from Chief Seuberlich. We are human though, and all of us come with different personal experiences and implicit bias. That is why it’s important for us to constantly reevaluate ourselves, our policies and training needs. We are eager to talk with our community, hear ideas, and learn how we can do better for you. As your city manager, I am committed to learning from you so together we can ensure every member of our community feels safe, respected and at home in Bothell. Thank you Bothell Community for supporting each other. It is a pleasure to serve you!