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Clinton Mills: Dialogue needed on health care needs in town | Friday Harbor Town Council candidate profile
Clinton Mills’ life has been a whirlwind since he moved to Friday Harbor.
He married his childhood sweetheart, they opened a counseling practice together, he became a town planning commissioner, and he bought Warehouse Coffee on Tucker Avenue.
“I’ve really fallen in love with this place. I want to get involved,” Mills said.
Now, Mills is running for the Friday Harbor Town Council.
“I’ve moved around quite a bit and finally found a place that I love,” Mills said in an interview at the San Juan County Fair. “As most people do when they find that spot, they start getting involved. For me, I want to see what’s actually going on behind the scenes” — budget, development — “and have a little say in that as well.”
Mills is concerned about health care, utility rates, downtown traffic, and the costs of population growth. He supports the development of gravel or grass bike paths and walking surfaces. He also believes his business background will contribute to the town budget process.
“I have a bit of a business background and I can bring that to the table,” he said.
Regarding health care: Mills said the Town Council should engage in dialogue about health care needs in the community. “The council is responsible for the safety and security of its population, and all aspects, including health care, should be on the table,” he said. He recommends public forums with local health care workers to identify health care needs in the community.
Regarding utility rates: He believes technological investments can stave off major costs such as upgrades, further delaying the need to raise utility rates. For example, an aeration system put in place in Trout Lake has lowered the amount of algae in the lake, reducing treatment costs and lowering the amount of trihalomethane, a byproduct of chlorine and organic materials.
Regarding downtown traffic: Mills would consider rerouting traffic to improve the flow of vehicles offloading from the ferry; past Town Councils have discussed routing some traffic up A Street to Web or Nichols street to relieve congestion on Spring Street.
Mills said he supports acquiring land for public parking to relieve downtown parking congestion. “I would be for that.”
Regarding population growth: He is concerned that new development generates enough tax revenue to offset the costs of water and sewer service.
Regarding sidewalks: He supports development of paths to get foot traffic and bike traffic off streets. He likes the grass paths that are proposed for the Sun Rise affordable housing neighborhood near the former Friday Harbor Sand & Gravel site, and believes that concept could be applied elsewhere in town.
Regarding street improvements: “In all honesty, I see several items such as water and sewer that are probably going to top that list,” he said. “Our streets are still usable, they are still maintainable. Yes, we need to do something, but it won’t make the top of that list.”
‘I searched my heart’
Mills said he worked for a business degree at Texas Tech, with much of his tuition paid by the businesses he worked for. He became general manager of a 60-employee company, “but I wasn’t real satisfied in that field. I felt like I got stuck. I searched my heart and found out that assisting people, helping people was where I was.”
He changed careers and ultimately became a counselor specializing in anger management and chemical dependency.
Volunteer work as an assistant to the planning commission in El Mirage, Ariz. whetted his appetite for public service. He was appointed to the Friday Harbor Planning Commission in June.
“I’ve challenged myself to jump out and get involved and stay informed,” Mills said. “I really want to know what’s going on in the place I live. I kind of like having a little say so in what’s happening. It feels good to say, ‘I helped get that going, I helped stop that and the town’s better for it.”
AT A GLANCE
555 McDonald St.
— Age: 45.
— Family: Wife, Shahn McGuire. Married for two years.
— Residency: Moved to Friday Harbor in 2006.
— Education: Studied for a business degree at Texas Tech University, completed undergraduate degree through online courses at Ashford University in Iowa, earned a master’s in social work from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
— Career: Licensed chemical dependency counselor at Allied Counseling Services; formerly a clinical liaison for a mental health agency. Owns Warehouse Coffee on Tucker Avenue.
— Experience: Friday Harbor planning commissioner, since June; former planning commission assistant in El Mirage, Ariz.