Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"CANDIDATE PROFILE: City Council candidate wants Pullman, WSU to work together"

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Nathan Weller hopes his age doesn't deceive Pullman voters.

Weller, 25, said some people may say he's too young for the Pullman City Council, but he respectfully disagrees. He believes his youth provides him with fresh perspective and energy, and is proof that young people want to participate in the community.

"It's important for people our age to be involved - to have a voice in the community. We have great enthusiasm," he said. "I was raised by, 'If you see an issue, you should do something about it. You should go out and take responsibility.' "

Weller, a Pullman native, is a candidate for the City Council Ward 2 position. He is vying for the seat against incumbent Al Sorensen in the nonpartisan election. Ballots will be mailed to Washington residents Oct. 19.

Weller said since most people have the same basic desires for "a secure place to live, a good job and a good community" - including Washington State University students and longtime Pullman residents - the university and city need to forge a solid relationship.

"If the community itself is divided, there's always going to be one side saying, 'Hey, this is shady,' " he said. "You really need everyone to be vested in the community."

The city and university - both powerful individually - could be unstoppable if they combined forces and fostered "a relationship of respect and trust," he said.

"It's about bringing together those two halves. Pullman wouldn't be Pullman without the college and longterm residents," he said. "This is not an 'us versus them' in the community. This is about unifying the community. If we create that dialogue, we can solve any problem Pullman might have. If we're able to do it on a united front, we can handle anything."

Weller attended Pullman High School and Washington State University, where he graduated in 2005 with a degree in psychology. He is employed as a machine operator and line coordinator at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, and is part of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church congregation as well as the Sacred Heart Education Board. He is a member of the religious service organization Knights of Columbus and has been initiated into the Moscow Grange, with plans to join the Pullman group in the future.

Weller also is on the Blue Ribbon Advisory Task Committee, which makes allocation suggestions to Whitman County commissioners for .09 sales-tax dollars - funds provided by the state and awarded by the county to assist rural communities with economic development.

Weller said cooperation on the part of the city and university could create new opportunities for economic development and keep more bright, educated WSU graduates in the local workforce.

"It's about keeping our intellectual capacity here and having living-wage jobs that will keep people here," he said.

Efforts should be made to increase economic development in areas such as the Pullman-Moscow Highway, Weller said, adding that already established local businesses throughout the city shouldn't be ignored. The Daily Grind and SEL, for example, should be encouraged to expand.

"Overall, Pullman needs economic development," he said. "No city can go without economic development."

A good working relationship between Pullman and Whitman County also is essential to build a larger tax base, provide infrastructure and garner project funding from Olympia.

Weller, who ran for the Whitman County commission District 3 position in 2006, said he gained knowledge from the experience despite his loss to Michael Largent.

"It gives me a certain amount of insight into how the county works," he said. "But being a Pullman resident, it gives me a bigger box of tools. Pullman is a part of Whitman County and we're going to have to work together. We need unification."

In his free time, Weller enjoys the outdoors, playing paintball and running his small recreation company called Guerrilla Paintball. He also enjoys campaigning and working in the community.

"No one forced me to do this," he said. "I do this for fun."

Candidate profile

NAME: Nathan Weller

AGE: 25

RUNNING FOR: Pullman City Council, Ward 2.

OCCUPATION: Machine operator and line coordinator at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. He also owns a small Pullman recreation company called Guerrilla Paintball.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in psychology, Washington State University

FAMILY: Weller is single. His parents, David and Suellen Weller, live in Pullman, as does his brother, Keith, who attends WSU.

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