Nina Milligan joins the City Council
February 11, 2014
By Peter Clark
Faced with seven qualified applicants to fill Mayor Fred Butler’s vacated Issaquah City Council seat, the council chose Issaquah Highlands resident Nina Milligan on Feb. 5.
City Clerk Tina Eggers swore in the new councilwoman during the regular meeting. After pledging to fulfill the duties of the office, Milligan took a seat with the council for her first meeting.
“It’s not like it was a new idea,” she said of pursing the position.
Milligan has served on the Urban Village Development Commission for the past eight years and previously applied for a council vacancy filled by fellow highlands resident Stacy Goodman. Milligan said she was ready for new challenges within the city and wanted to work with the current council.
“I get really excited about working with these people,” Milligan said. “What a great group.”
She is editor of the highlands publication Connections and has pursued interests including land use and patent law. She does not consider herself a specialist, but rather one who takes on a great deal of topics in order to understand the whole. She said that would serve the council well.
“I’m happy that being a generalist is considered a good thing,” Milligan said. “I’m excited about the variety of topics and working at the intersection of many things.”
She will be a member of the council’s Services and Safety, and Infrastructure committees. She considered her greatest strength her history of working with the Central Issaquah Plan and said she believed those committee assignments would make good use of it.
“I’m seeing what I want to see right from the get-go, everything from workforce housing to the Economic Vitality Commission,” she said following the Feb. 6 Services and Safety Committee meeting. “I couldn’t believe how fun that was and that I can play a role to support that.”
She also sees value in her location. She said she did not see any void on the council that she hoped to fill, adding that the variety of experience there is impressive. Rather, she said she wanted to give a perspective from the neighborhood as the city continues to grow.
“My highlands residency provides a benefit,” Milligan said. “I have firsthand experience with one of our urbanizing areas, a direction the city is pursuing.”
She said she didn’t want to express herself as a pro-growth candidate per se, but rather someone in favor of smart growth.
“Growth can be managed in many ways and we have to grow,” she said citing the city’s responsibility under the state’s Growth Management Act. “If we can grow in a progressive and thoughtful way, I’m for that.”
She acknowledged the job would be difficult, but said she was up to the challenge.
“The immediate difficulties have already hit me like a tidal wave,” Milligan said. “There’s a steep learning curve to get caught up with these guys. They are already on operational speed.”
Still, she said she is ready for the challenge.
Though Milligan said she had a cautious view of elections, which had kept her from pursuing the position before, she said that attitude has changed over time.
“In the past, I was pretty shy about campaigning and thought it didn’t look like much fun,” she said. “But I’ve grown to understand that these are just real people, doing their best.”
She credited the mayoral race between Butler and former Councilman Joe Forkner as giving a civil example of how campaigns should be run.
When Butler won last year’s election and moved up to head the administration, it left a vacancy that seven applied to fill. Those seven presented themselves to the council during a Jan. 21 meeting.
“There were so many great candidates,” Milligan said. “I hope to live up to the expectations of the people who supported me. I’m flattered to be chosen to serve on this body when there were many qualified people who also applied.”