Pullman City Councilman Al Sorensen considers himself a doer.
"I think people talk a lot about doing things, and they don't do it," he said, "I'm here. I'm doing it."
Rather than sit back and watch Pullman grow, Sorensen jumped into a leadership role when he was elected to the Ward 2 council seat in 2005. This fall, Sorensen will vie to retain his position, as he takes on Nathan Weller in the nonpartisan election. Mail-in ballots will be sent to Washington residents Oct. 19.
"I've kinda been an organizer and a leader, really, my whole life. I was always the organizer and a planner," Sorensen said. "I think I have a lot to offer. I think I have a lot of ideas. I think I've been around and I think I know what a lot of people want to see in Pullman. I have no need to be in the limelight for any reason except that I want to help."
Sorensen, 45, moved to Pullman from Nebraska with his family in 1966, when his father took a position at Washington State University. They moved into a home on Hall Drive - a home Sorensen purchased from his father 16 years ago and where his children have grown up.
"That's the house I registered to vote from," he said. "I've lived in that same ward and voted in that same ward since I was 18."
Sorensen, a Washington State University grad, said he's had opportunities to leave Pullman for larger cities such as Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma.
He's remained in Pullman because he can't imagine living anywhere else.
"My wife and I decided this is where we want to be," he said. "I like driving through town and waving at people because I know them. I like the small-town atmosphere."
Sorenson, who has owned Pioneer Insurance on Stadium Way for a little more than a year, is committed to retaining the vitality of Pullman, which he said means being a proponent for local small business owners.
"Pullman is small business," said Sorensen, who previously was a co-owner of Whitman Insurance and also worked for Associated Independent Agencies. "That's how Pullman is going to survive - with small businesses."
Sorensen said he's supports a Wal-Mart Supercenter - or any other large retail store, for that matter - locating in Pullman.
"I think Wal-Mart is going to be a good thing for small businesses," he said. "I think that having Wal-Mart, having a Lowe's, Home Depot - who ever might come in - those are all good things. They bring more businesses with them. More shops. More restaurants."
He said more business would improve the economic climate of Pullman and could bring more people into town.
"I think we need to continue developing small businesses in town - building small businesses and helping them however we can," he said, adding that a balance must be found between all businesses, large and small. "We just need to manage the growth so we can all work together."
With growth comes repairs, Sorenson said.
He is pleased Pullman residents approved a $2.2 million bond in 2006 that helped pay for the addition of several paved pedestrian paths throughout town, as well as new park bathrooms and sidewalk repairs.
But more needs to be done, Sorensen said, and he'll advocate for money to be raised to improve infrastructure around the city.
He said potholes and other problems are appearing on the city's aging streets, and he will push to keep infrastructure repair on the front burner of city projects.
Sorensen said that as an elected official, he wants the public to approach him about issues he may not be addressing.
"I've made myself available," he said. "I welcome people to contact me."
In his free time, Sorensen is an avid WSU and Pullman High School sports fan. He also is the founder and president of the Pullman Junior Golf Club and director of the Palouse Cougar Open Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for WSU athletics. He also enjoys camping with family and supporting his children's athletic endeavors.
Sorensen said he isn't ready to leave his council seat just yet and hopes Pullman residents will instill their trust in him for the next four years.
"I've learned an awful lot since I've been there and I think there's still an awful lot to do," he said.
"I'm a decision-maker for the city of Pullman, and I take that responsibility. I have a stake in Pullman.
"Being from Pullman, and growing up here and living here, I feel like I have a pretty big investment here and I want it to continue being the town that I grew up in and live in," he added. "I want to help for 10, 20, 50 years down the road. I plan on being in Pullman for a majority of that. Therefore, I want it to remain what it is now."
NAME: Al Sorensen
RUNNING FOR: Re-election to Pullman City Council.
OCCUPATION: Owner of Pioneer Insurance.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in social sciences, Washington State University.
FAMILY: Wife, Shona; daughter, Jennifer, 15; and two grown stepsons, Adam and Jake. Sorensen and his wife also are the legal guardians of his nephew, Dauson Crawford, 16.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
"CANDIDATE PROFILE: Sorensen hopes to continue serving Pullman, residents"
There was a nice write-up in yesterday's Daily News on Pullman city councilman Al Sorensen, who is running for re-election in November.