New councilwoman hopes to implement change in 2008

Anna Riggenbach

Kent City Council will see some new members come Jan. 1. Some are still waiting to hear they got the position, but Tracy Wallach, upcoming Ward 6 councilwoman knew she was in when she was elected in May.

Wallach will be taking over the position currently held by Beth Oswitch.

Wallach ran for council three- and-a-half years ago and lost, after which she did not plan to run again. She said residents and council members begged her to run this year.

“It’s going to be a big responsibility,” Wallach said. “Next year’s council will buckle down and work.”

Residents in the area have many concerns they would like to see addressed by the new council in 2008. One of the biggest concerns is the relationship between them and the students.

Anita Bixenstine, a Ward 6 resident who has lived in the area for 40 years, said the relationship between students and residents is always an issue, one that is not easily solved.

“It must be resolved by working together,” she said. “Any kind of town relationship is valuable. It will be better for the community.”

Wallach said she has projects planned that will help the student/resident relationship in Kent.

“I want projects that will help the community and student population work together in a better way,” she said.

One planned project to improve relationships would be a sort of “welcome wagon” for new student renters. Wallach said she would like to see residents introduce themselves to new student neighbors. If the students can put faces to the houses on their streets, they will hopefully be more respectful of their neighbors.

Ward 6 resident Debra Hook has concerns about the way the city of Kent operates. She said she sees it operating as a typical college town, meaning the students and the city are not melding together. She would like to see more businesses draw students off of the campus.

“There is not enough business to build on in this city,” she said. “I want to see some energy.”

Wallach, who is currently a Main Street Kent board member, said the board is already working on that. The new trash cans and downtown activities have been drawing residents to downtown.

Contact public affairs reporter Anna Riggenbach at [email protected].