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2 of Tacoma's newest council members reflect on first 4 months in office

Tacoma’s freshmen council members recently celebrated 100 days on the job. Two of them -- Joe Bushnell and Sarah Rumbaugh -- spoke with KING 5.

TACOMA, Wash. — The Tacoma City Council underwent a significant shift during the last election cycle, when three of the council’s eights seats were filled by new people.

Council members Joe Bushnell and Sarah Rumbaugh are two of those newcomers. As they adjust to their new roles, they’ve also had to adjust to the demands of running a city and the collaborations that come with it.

“We all agree on what the goal is, it’s just getting there that’s the issue. And it takes time and resources,” said Bushnell, who represents District 5. “I found that in the first 100 days, how we prioritize our budget and where we put money to really speaks to the values that we really care about as a city.”

Rumbaugh, council member for District 2, said balancing the day-to-day operations with long-term solutions can be challenging.

“You go in and you have this idea of, ‘I’m gonna change everything right now,’ and what you learn is you have to create those relationships to make those changes happen,” she said.

RELATED: Tacoma police chief addresses crime, safety questions in business town hall

Bushnell and Rumbaugh both came into office as the city experienced a rise in crime, and public safety is a top priority, such as around Hosmer Street. The area has been a growing concern in Bushnell’s district.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office has noted increased gang activity in the area, and the Tacoma Police Department said they’ve already had three homicides within the 8700 and 8800 blocks of Hosmer Street in the past year.

In February, a 63-year-old woman was shot while in bed after bullets came through the wall and window of her apartment on 96th Street near Hosmer, and a suspect still hasn’t been identified.

RELATED: Woman shot in bed after bullets come through her apartment wall, window in Tacoma

Bushnell said he wants to start addressing crime by pushing investment into the areas around Hosmer Street.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Bushnell said. “This is one of the lowest opportunity areas in the city, has some of the highest rates of crime and violent crime in the city, and also has one of the lowest health outcomes in the county…we really need to have a concerted effort and investment to turn that around.”

The lack of housing in Tacoma is also a big issue the council is focused on.

Rumbaugh said that while it’s important to get this infrastructure into the city, it has to be sustainable and can’t come at the expense of the environment.

“We do not have enough housing in our city and we need to figure out how to do that, but there’s a lot of creative ways to do that and still protect the environment,” she explains. “We have 20% tree canopy and all of the surrounding cities around us have much higher tree canopy, and we don’t want to go backwards. We want to figure out how to grow that.”

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Now that the first 100 days are over, the new council members are calling on the community to continue to reach out and let them know how the council can best serve them.

“I’m just a conduit for the voices of the community in this office. This is not my seat, this is the seat of our people,” Bushnell said. “I’m really trying to do the best that I can to support the work of the things going on in the neighborhood.”

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