From Nathan Weller’s perspective, there is a barrier between the students of WSU and the Pullman community.
The students may make up the majority of the city’s population, work at the coffee bars and shop at the local businesses, but many of them have little involvement with the city’s politics, Weller said. And it’s not from a lack of desire.
“They want to be involved,” he said. “I want there to be a plethora of ways to reach out to the students.” Weller, 26, is the newest member of the Pullman City Council, sworn in on Dec. 26. Having been a resident of Pullman his entire life – and a 2005 WSU graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology – Weller is familiar with the local issues, even if he is by far the youngest of the council members. “I’m a longtime resident,” he said. “For me, a lot of the issues of the council are close to home, as well as the problems for WSU. It’s important for me to serve to help bridge that gap.” Weller said students are burdened by a “phenomenal” number of ordinances. For the current debate regarding whether Pullman should implement a mandatory rental inspections program, Weller is for keeping the program voluntary, to keep the students’ costs down.
“I think instead of legislating and creating an ordinance for everything, it’s better to talk one-on-one,” Weller said.
Weller, who said he has lived in multiple poorly maintained houses and apartments, links the problem to a lack of education. When he was a student, he said he had little knowledge of landlord and tenant rights.
“I think the city council has a piece in the education process,” he said. Mayor Glenn Johnson said the council has a very close relationship with ASWSU – as evident by their two joint meetings this year and constant involvement with the student body president. Johnson also said he receives plenty of feedback through the classes he teaches in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. Weller thinks more one-on-one methods are necessary. One of his ideas is to move some of the town’s public forums onto campus.
“When I was a student, I know it was tough for me to come [into town],” Weller said. “Basically, your life is studies.” Also important to Weller is expanding the diversity of Pullman’s economy and reducing housing costs.
“The housing costs are still pretty astronomical,” he said. “Not compared to Seattle, but to other small towns.” Weller won the election in a close race against incumbent Al Sorenson. He said he received many of his ideas from knocking on doors in Ward 2 – which consists of Military Hill and Campus Commons North – when he campaigned for the election.
Along with the Pullman City Council, Weller works at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, where he is a line coordinator. He also owns a small recreational paintball business.
“It’s great to have him on the council,” Johnson said. “He’s already doing his homework and I think he is doing a good job.”
Thursday, January 10, 2008
"Newest councilman aims to expand diversity and reduce housing costs"
After shockingly and shamefully ignoring last fall's Pullman City Council elections until after they were over, the Daily Evergreen seems to be trying to make up for its recent lack of local political coverage. From today's Evergreen: