by WHCA Elections Committee
WHCA board members are elected by residents of unincorporated Skyway-West Hill to serve two-year terms to help create a more equitable, engaged, informed, and vibrant West Hill. This year, we have five open board positions.
Please help us select our next round of new board members to work with you – our community! In this post, you can review the candidate statements, view photos and/or videos, and vote for your top five. Thank you to all of our candidates, and good luck!
All Unincorporated West Hill residents aged 18 or older are eligible to vote for West Hill Community Association (WHCA) Board Members. All eligible voters must complete their voting by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.
Meet the candidates below:
- Basha Alexander
- Ben Melby
- Chad Lee Smithson
- Devin Chicras
- Fin Hardy
- Jeannie (Karyljean) Williams
- Jeff Peterson
- Joey Dunn
- Lisa Cooper
- Thomas Gardner
My name is Basha Alexander. I was raised in Skyway and consider it a place I’ll always call home. Growing up I attended Camphill Elementary, Dimmit and Renton High School and recently moved back into the area with my husband and two boys. I am an educator, race and equity facilitator, advocate and the LOIS- Precinct Committee Officer. Like West Hill Community Association’s original purpose, sharing important information and getting the tough questions answered, I am interested in joining the Board as a Director to offer an innovative and timely perspective that reflects my community as a black woman, millennial and mother.
I am passionate about amplifying black and brown voices, especially in spaces that we have been historically and intentionally marginalized and dismantling systemic and institutional barriers. Last month, I organized and led, along with community members – the Heal the Hood rally where we provided voter registration, PPE, over 400 free meals as well as representation from our elected officials. This rally energerized Skyway Coalition’s petition with King County Council that has gained more than 500 signatures, and was recently covered by Q13. Witnessing the support and community response solidifies my interest and commitment to show up in this capacity. Supporting civic engagement, youth development and education – I will bring a unique perspective to the Board that will contribute to the advancement and implementation of future policies and sustainable programs that positively impact our black and brown communities.
Hello, my name is Ben Melby. My wife and I have been a member of the West Hill community for close to two years. Within that time, we have fell in love with the neighborhood. From getting coffee at Nevzats, to getting my car fixed at Two Brothers, to winding down at the Beachcomber, this is a great neighborhood. I am concerned about gentrification and equitable opportunities. I don’t want community members and businesses displaced. Being on the board would be a great way to give back. I bring a 27 year history of working in the entertainment business. This experience has fostered a love of community. Traveling the world has allowed me to learn more about different cultures and ways of living. In my down time, I enjoy studying the arts, and history. I love working on my classic cars, drinking great coffee, and fine wine. I ask that you consider me for the position of director.
Chad Lee Smithson
The issues that matter most to me, and for which I’d be willing to jump in to do to create a more engaged, informed and vibrant West Hill, are especially as follows:
1. Facilitate information and publicity/marketing about causes and prevention, stats, risk factors, etc., related to COVID-19 based on local and national data, based on science, and implications b/c of how politics affects this critical subject. Especially emphasizing our concern and promotion of safety here in the greater Skyway area;
2. Facilitate info, education, understanding, and ACTION with publicity/marketing about racism locally, within our State, and nationally if the occasion should arise.
The song I wrote and recorded a year ago focused on then-black deaths of African Americans in our country. This I entitled “Skyway Song.” And in late June, 2020, I modified it to include the local and national police related deaths of our black brothers and sisters. It would be great to brainstorm and most importantly participate in create and exposure on this issue locally and beyond, and about the possible power of song and publicity/marketing to achieve these CRITICAL aims.
3. I’m interested in land-use and zoning issues as our area grows, including multifamily uses and affordable housing.;
4. I’ve done tons of work in helping people with defending or settling for re: their large credit card debt. I happen to be an attorney practicing in this and related debt management and credit card defense fields.
In closing, I look forward to participating in, and creating and promoting, our West Hill Community Association, members, and all our community, through written, and spoken, if desired, publicity and marketing so that our community goals are achieved, including getting “airspace” and media attention to the needs of our and may community, and beyond. And with my several contacts with Skyway related churches in the black community, and my other legal connections within king county, I am confident I will be able to provide much greater exposure and ACTION for the interests of our community, and incidentally the community of all of us in our State and nationally, in the process.
Thank-you for your consideration.
Chad (and 10 y/0 son-EJ!) Smithson
Hey there, neighbors! My name is Devin Chicras (she/her), Skyway resident and superfan. I believe this community can truly accomplish anything, and I’ve spent the last decade dedicated to proving that theory as a West Hill Community Association volunteer turned board member, and for the last six years, executive officer.
I’m passionate about connecting our neighbors, because we’re stronger together. I saw the promise WHCA had to be that convener, and in the last 10+ years, I’ve built our website, social media channels, newsletters, and branding from the ground up, resurrected Skyway Outdoor Cinema and filled in as lead organizer since 2013, had a hand in and attended nearly every event, activity, and meeting, and helped push for major foundational updates to secure 501(c)(3) status and better serve our unincorporated area with its unique challenges.
WHCA has long been a force for good in Skyway-West Hill, and is currently working hard to be as inclusive, representative, and effective as possible. We must not waver from that commitment, and I’m dedicated to fighting for a community-led process to ensure alignment between our mission and community needs, building more opportunities for folks to find leadership roles within this organization and have the tools they need to succeed from day one, and continuing to use my communications background to amplify our advocacy efforts and build community.
If you believe in this work as I do, I’d be honored to have your vote, neighbor! My inbox is always open if you’d like to chat: [email protected].
I both live and work in our community, and am committed to our neighborhoods and businesses. My husband and I bought our home in Lakeridge two years ago. I am a teacher at Lakeridge Elementary School, and also work as a youth and adult rowing coach at Renton Rowing Club.
I am deeply engaged with environmental justice and racial equity to support and build healthy, sustainable and inclusive communities. I want to continue listening to our neighbors and respecting our community’s unique history, diversity, and scale. Our neighborhoods provide opportunities for people of color as business owners, residents, and as community leaders and we need to continue to build on this, as we develop inclusive public and green spaces, building on successes like our library, outdoor cinema and parks. I have also been active with my community church (Lakeridge Lutheran), serving in a leadership role there, and helping to host and support rotating staffed homeless encampments/shelters on our church property over the past several years.
Racial equity is deeply important to me. As a first time foster parent this year, I have come to learn how many of our systems are impacting our young people of color in harmful ways. I am both a student and teacher of culturally responsive teaching and racial identity development, both in classrooms and in outdoor settings, and was a founding member and secretary of People of Color Outdoors as well as a staff person for Urban Wilderness Works and Boys and Girls Leadership Development. I hope to bring all these experiences to serving on the Board of the West Hill Community Association, if I am elected.
Jeannie (Karyljean) Williams
I am interested in being on the WHCA Board as I am a long time resident of Skyway-West Hill and care very deeply about the development of this community and the people who live here. I have been here through many changes and feel passionate about keeping the community involved in making this a neighborhood that serves the residents that live here and building an equitable place for everyone to feel welcome! I have purposely and intentionally chosen to stay in Skyway-West Hill as I love the neighborly, quirky, very diverse community feel.
I originally moved to the community in the late 70’s, left the area and returned to Skyway to purchase my home in Dec 1985. My kids grew up in Skyway and know it as ‘home’. I have been a very active member of the late Skyway United Methodist Church and the efforts to keep the UMC presence here in Skyway. From Feb 2019 to Feb 2020 I was a member of the Board of Directors for Skyway Solutions. I have also been active in many of the neighborhood evolutions over the years. I bring much love for this community as well as a pretty deep understanding of the history.
I have lived in the West Hill area for a little over a year. We moved here because my wife teaches at Bryn Mawr and we wanted to become a part of the community. I work for a non-profit (Northwest Harvest) and I would like to apply some of my skills to helping the West Hill Community. I think that there is a great need in today’s world, and a great opportunity, to continue coming together as a strong community. One issue I am naturally interested in because of my work is food insecurity and making sure everyone has access to healthy food. I love to read, listen and learn. One of my joys in life is sitting in a quiet pub with a good beer and a good book. I have a wife and two rat terriers. We love to travel and explore our world. I love cooking on the grill and this year am dipping my toes into using a smoker. I have a desire to be a part of the solution to solving the issues around racial inequity in our nation, city, and community. I also have a passion for hospitality and bringing people together.
Hello! My wife, Lilani, and I moved to Bryn Mawr in 2017, where we now have an 11 month old daughter, Haleina, and one more on the way (due in October!). After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Sociology and as a three year captain of the Varsity Baseball Team, I grew my sales and recruiting career to where I am now, and for the last nearly 6 years, at Unify Consulting (~500 employees) as the Senior Director of Recruiting and a member of our National Leadership Team.
To create a more engaged, informed, and vibrant West Hill we all must take accountability in the ways we foster our environment of not just inclusion, but also empowerment and knowledge sharing, so that we can collectively take on the responsibility and see the positive impact we are all capable of. This is not done by merely putting policy in place but also ‘leading from the front’ and being an active participant in its maturation.
I firmly believe that in family, community, and career, our duty is to facilitate an environment where we can all grow to be extremely proud of the people we are associated with and the community we represent, and to do this we must partake in the framework and be active participants.
Issues that matter most to me are, Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), communications, public safety, and community participation.
My name is Lisa Cooper. I am a West Hill resident of 7 years. I reside in the Lakeridge neighborhood.
If elected, this will be my 4th term on the West Hill Community Association.
We have some wonderful new candidates running for board seats, and I encourage you to vote for them. I would be thrilled and heartened if they won my seat. Because board diversity, continued vibrancy and thoughtful new ideas that move the dial are essential to the continued growth and success of the WHCA.
We have made great strides in the past number of years, all due to the collaborative visions of committed community members who have stepped up as board, committee and/or outreach volunteers. We’ve grown as a board from being primarily events driven (West Hill Quarterly Meeting, Skyway Outdoor Cinema, WHAM, Halloween Bowling Alley Takeover, ) to the larger messaging platform of community advocacy (Voter Education, King County Sub Area Planning, Coffee Hour chats at the Skyway Library) as well as liaising with the other vital West Hill organizations & partners to steer the overall growth on the hill.
Our goal is to build and maintain the framework for an inclusive, informed and vibrant West Hill as it transitions and navigates the changes that happen as part of the overall growth of greater metropolitan King County. There is much work to be done in the shaping of our hill.
I encourage everyone who has an interest in the civic future of our hill to run for a board seat, volunteer for one of our committees, or volunteer at events…when events can happen again that is.
It takes all of us. Everybody has a special talent. Come join us! We work and play very well together and achieve so much greatness in the process.
While I hope you vote for me, I hope you vote for a new prospective board member even more. Because that is how we keep it vital.
Thomas Jasen Gardner is a homeowner in unincorporated Bryn Mawr/Skyway; a Vietnam Era Veteran and a retired commercial electrician. For 33 years he has been the thankful husband of Linda Gardner, M.D. (retired) and the proud father of Tristen Sean. Tom recently graduated with a science degree from UW-Madison. Tom studied water hydrology to cherish the memory of his educator mother, Cladie Mae. She died from contaminated municipal water. This poisonous act is not isolated. Water districts across America wickedly allow contaminated water for drinking. Skyway commissioners must work without prejudice to reflect values of the community they serve. The present and future of our safe, clean, healthy water is our mission for our seniors and children.
Together we can crusade for sidewalks, parks, and easements that help protect our water source. Fact: Neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the State of Washington fully protect our water. I would like to help use laws/resources to [answer cuts off].
For young people to be engaged there must be affordable opportunities. Several grants are available that offer introductions in science, engineering, literature. Taking advantage of these grants while learning skills that enhance our neighborhood.