Wilson, Miller vie for Concrete Mayor seat
By Mark Koger
Edited by Katy Tomasulo
On election day Nov. 5, Concrete citizens will choose between two candidates for mayor: incumbent Judd Wilson and his challenger, Jason Miller.
In addition to serving as Concrete mayor since 2007, Wilson, an 18-year resident of Concrete, works as a supervisor for the Trucking Division at Janicki Industries and as an EMT with Aero Skagit EMS, and is a volunteer firefighter for the Grasmere Fire Dept.
Miller is owner and publisher of Concrete Herald, serves on the Concrete Town Council, chairs the Concrete Parks Committee, co-manages the Angele Cupples Community Garden in Concrete, and is a freelance writer and editor. He has lived in Concrete for eight years.
While both Wilson and Miller demonstrate a deep commitment to the town and its people—through years of words and action—they have different visions for what will help Concrete thrive.
Wilson keeps an eye on the present and the pragmatic: “I see that the greatest challenge Concrete has at this time is keeping the businesses and residents safe. A new Public Safety Building would provide that for our town. The current fire station is falling down. This is a major problem for me, not being able to provide a safe town,” Wilson said. “Another issue I see is that the elderly residents don’t seem to have a voice in town. I will work to meet with the elderly to hear their issues and address them as I can. I am also concerned with wastewater rates and how we can keep them to a manageable expense. I understand the economics of the town and how hard it is for residents to maintain a budget.”
Miller believes growth comes with an eye toward a future that can buck the trend of towns failing after their primary economic driver leaves: “In my mind [our greatest challenge is] economic development. Everything flows from that, or at least with it. We need more residents living in town. What will draw them? A healthy economy and a place to work, for starters. A safe environment, a good school, a beautiful public realm, and opportunities for civic involvement.”
The candidates also differ in how they will approach leading the town to accomplish these visions.
“[I’m running for mayor] to finish the things that Concrete NEEDS. This includes projects that I have started, like the fire station, updated water lines, and finalizing the water/sewer treatment plant in closing the lagoon,” said Wilson. “I feel I am better for the position as I have held it for six years. I was on the council for three years when the former mayor resigned and I was appointed as the current mayor. I have many ‘irons in the fire’ at this time and feel obligated to finish what I have started. I enjoy working with the people of Concrete to continue making Concrete a great place to live.”
“I’m running for mayor because Concrete has to start making progress toward developing resiliency,” said Miller. “We need to pool our resources—young and old—and figure out a way to reinvigorate our local economy so that our young people won’t feel their only option upon graduation is flight. Ever since I moved to Concrete, I’ve demonstrated a commitment to and proficiency with community involvement. My approach is collaborative and grassroots in nature. For the last couple years I’ve been harvesting knowledge in towns that have experienced success with their economic development efforts and developing relationships with them so they might help us steer a steady path toward our revitalization.”
With its beauty and resources, the Skagit Valley’s draw is undeniable. But Concrete’s often empty streets, dilapidated fire station, and other visible concerns are evidence that a resurgent economy and continued improvements are essential to ongoing survival.
Which candidate has the correct approach? Voters will decide Nov. 5.
To learn more about each candidate, go to their Facebook pages:
Freelance writer Mark Kroger lives in Bellingham.
Freelance editor Katy Tomasulo lives in Seattle.