Erik@sammamishfarms.com 425-773-0470 Goheen2kcd.com Education: B.A. Political Science, Western Washington University Occupation: Farmer, owner/operator at Sammamish Farms
Statement: From the crest of the Cascades to the shores of Puget Sound, our soil and water resources are finite but also immense. We must act now for a resilient food system, forestry and healthy watersheds. I am running for this position to bring my experience in habitat restoration and local agriculture to guide the policy our district needs for a sustainable and regenerative future. The science is good. There are jobs to be had in Earth repair, yet too many of our KCD dollars are being used on programs that do not amplify the efforts of our cities and county to build regional resilience. Throughout my career I have been actively involved in the work protecting our natural resources and improving native ecosystems, including establishing a successional backyard habitat with KCD plants. I have worked in several roles to affect policy improving Washington farmer’s viability and prioritizing clean water in our rivers, lakes, and Sound. Our beaches should be swimmable in the summer and our farmers able to maintain open space and profitable operations. Sustainability is a local food supply including healthy fish populations in our rivers. As your KCD Supervisor I will work to keep King County’s countless champions of conservation empowered to work locally and assure the county of the Emerald City stays green. I would be honored to earn your vote. Erik is a graduate of Western Washington University and Northshore schools. He operates a small farm in Redmond and has served on the Woodinville Farmer’s Market board since 2021.
Candidate Forum Questionnaire:
1. Why do you want to be a KCD board member? At the request of the farming community. Dairyman Bill Knutsen is retiring and we need farmers on the board. To help build a local, institutional food supply where local food is served in our schools and cafeterias. To help prevent a big fire in King County. Smoke season isn’t normal. We can do better to restore the salmon run here with infrastructure jobs, I’d like to see more of that work getting done. I want to empower local champions of the environment to succeed at their goals and I can make a leadership improvement with regards to the board.
2. What are your qualifications for this position? B.A. Political Science, Western Washington University. Farm owner/operator the last 7 years. I am a user of KCD services: plant sale customer, conservation planned, conference presenting, riparian planting, pea-patch volunteering, habitat building participant in the programs. Former site and stormwater researcher with Building Code Innovations database. Trained Firefighter Type 2 (wildland) and Eagle Scout, former IAMAW machinist in Alaska salmon industry. My background spans a wide breadth of KCD's suite of services, programs and policy areas.
3. What are your priorities if you are elected? Vote NO, big westside fire. There are simple and holistic remedies to prevent fires, good science. Smoke season isn’t normal. King County should lead on this work. Support a local food system. Farms have been swept aside by the KCD at the exact wrong moment. A workforce of young and aspiring farmers, but grants designed to support them aren’t moving the needle. Clean Water Now. I like the Duwamish River’s wet weather treatment station and there are jobs to be had boosting salmon success in this field. The Duwamish river and the ship canal should be viable habitat, too.
4. What would you like to accomplish? Empower emerging leaders. Building trust with the non-regulatory, voluntary services offered for more meaningful projects. Speeding up Seattle’s clean water plan and infrastructure. Lots of jobs to be had in Clean Water Now. Seeing the local farmers scale up to send fresh food home with 10,000+ food-insecure kids in Seattle Public Schools every week. There are many aspiring farmers, and land to be worked sustainably.
5. What are the major challenges KCD is confronting? Leadership. The board is politically divided and lacks a good decision maker. They are bogged down in semantics, wordsmithing and people pleasing. I am the most familiar with the full spectrum of policy, services, and realities of the District. I look forward to the appointment process after Mr. Knutsen’s retirement this spring and adding another new face to the board. I have been impressed with Ms. Favorini-Csorba’s work on tribal consult and approach to equity initiatives and look forward to serving with her and the others for the next few years.
6. What can KCD do to address/mitigate climate change in our region? Riparian planting is a good start, and the state and federal entities have been working on this for a long time, too. I’d like to see more projects to help keep seasonal water upland, balance soil moisture, and improve habitat. Seasonal pond projects are both critical for fish and a convenient fire-fighting reservoir. Starting more plants for the annual plant sale to help homeowners with backyard projects. Support the conservation planning team as they continue to do good work. Finally, I’d like to encourage air polluters to curb operations during periods with poor air quality, especially in the most adversely affected parts of the county, i.e. White Center to Sodo.
7. What are your ideas for activating & engaging citizens for your plans? More stakeholder involvement. I would like to develop a participatory budget that increases micro grants for classroom and backyard projects. Native landscaping is in vogue and low-maintenance landscapes are popping up all over. Even kids can plant live stakes and cuttings, we should champion that involvement. Partial grant awards would help encourage participation, and get more folks into stewardship. I will work to strengthen the KCD advisory council to steer regional policy making by recruiting more top talent there. The advisory council has a deep bench and should be empowered to succeed in their communities rather than given afterthought status.
8. Which are KCD's most important programs & which should be scaled back or eliminated? Riparian habitat is so critical and part of a larger wildfire mitigation strategy. We’ve been working on this for decades and we’re close to turning the corner and calling the program a success, so I’d like to see that through. There are jobs to be had building clean water infrastructure, planting gardens, and keeping forests healthy, that remains important work. The member jurisdiction grant system has helped suburban cities approach infrastructure with a green thumb, I’d like to see Seattle team up with the KCD to fast track sewage overflow prevention with more wet weather infrastructure. Farm services should adopt a lean approach, and work to be more responsive while also costing the department less. Regional Food Systems Grant awards should be more available to farms working through conservation plans. Too much goes instead to PR, parties, and projects that do a poor job justifying their expense to taxpayers.