Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Newest City Council member ready to get rolling; Wright says her community involvement over the years will come in handy"

I like Pat's attitude. I think she'll fit right in on the council.

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Pat Wright moved to Pullman site unseen.

She moved to town from California in 1975 when her husband, Ray, accepted a job at the Washington State University Department of Animal Sciences. The couple arrived on the Palouse in the sleepy days of late summer - just after harvest and shortly before the university opened for fall classes.

"I just wasn't prepared," said Wright, 60. "We'd go in a restaurant and we were the only ones there."

Wright said Pullman was supposed to be a temporary home for the couple, but community involvement and the birth of their two children kept them in town.

"It was only going to be a few years ... but here we still are," she said. "We just made the conscious decision to stay."

Her time and commitment to Pullman paid off Tuesday, when Wright was appointed to the Pullman City Council Ward 3 position. Her list of community service and business accomplishments was impressive to the council, which chose her to join the bench from a list of candidates that included Terence Day and Dave Gibney.

The Ward 3 seat came open when it was determined that Devon Felsted, elected to the seat in November, would have to step down due to a conflict of interest. David Stiller, who was voted into the position in 2003, did not seek re-election.

Since her arrival in Pullman, Wright has worked at General Telephone and Electronics handling student accounts and most recently was the manager of The Bookie - a position she retired from last year. She now works as a campus relations consultant for Barnes and Noble, which allows her more time for community involvement on the Pullman Chamber of Commerce and Pullman Education Foundation boards. She also is active in the Pullman Civil Service Commission and the Pullman Regional Hospital Auxiliary.

Wright joked that her long résumé is a testament to her inability to say no, but added her roles in local business and service groups have prepared her for the council position.

"Little bits and pieces of the jobs I've done have given me a look at the big picture," she said.

Wright said she applied for the City Council position with an open mind and no agenda, but is a proponent for planned growth and a continued partnership with WSU.

She said the city is playing catch-up for missed business opportunities in the 1970s and 1980s that "ended up going to Moscow."

"Since then, we've tried to equalize that with projects like Bishop Boulevard," she said. "Any time we have a chance to keep that revenue here, I think we should capitalize on that."

Wright said planned growth includes ensuring available amenities to create a livable community.

"We need to make it a community that's livable for everyone," she said. "Livability is shopping. Livability is good schools. Livability is good health care.

"We need to continue to make it a destination rather than a place people come to four for years and then leave."

WSU also benefits from increased livability, Wright said, "because the more amenities, the easier it is to recruit students here."

Wright said a strong partnership between the city and university is essential to the health of the community.

"Can you say Pullman and not think of WSU?" she asked. "As much as we don't like to say it, Pullman is WSU and WSU is Pullman. We have to make sure Pullman and WSU are working together for what they both need."

For now, Wright said she's going to ease into her new position. After all, it will take some time to read up on city policy and current hot topics.

"I want to take my time to learn what the issues are," she said. "Probably the scariest part is going to be the accelerated learning curve to get into it."

In her down time, Wright said she enjoys traveling with Ray, to whom she's been married for 37 years. In previous years, they have visited New York City and Bermuda, among other places, and they are scheduled for an adventure in Tahiti in May.

She's also a fan of football and her two springer spaniels.

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