Following City Council consensus, Poulsbo is moving forward to put up flags downtown in June in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
$500 out of Mayor Becky Erickson’s budget will be used to purchase 30 pride flags that will go on both sides of Front Street.
The idea was brought up by Councilmember Britt Livdahl following an incident downtown where an individual with a megaphone was spreading hate speech about the LGBTQ+ community. Livdahl said the flags are supported by the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association and the Chamber of Commerce.
Many public commenters spoke in favor of the flags, while a few opposed. Connie Lord was the lone councilmember opposed to putting up the flags.
“I’m just concerned about taking a stand as a political body where our main mission is to provide for the well-being of all citizens and to guard our budget and be careful with the money,” she said. “I don’t particularly object to the flags themselves, I just feel like if we’re taking a stand it opens the door for us to be taking other stands on soft policy. We’ve had lots of opportunities to weigh in, and we’ve opted out just because we want to stay neutral out of respect for the fact that we have citizens of all different positions, and we aren’t trying to be their voice.”
In response to Lord, Livdahl said she would pay for the flags herself if money was an issue. “Staying neutral is not an option,” she said. “People’s lives are at stake. If our county has deemed racism a public health crisis, this fits into that as well. People who identify as queer or trans are not safe…in many parts of the world. This to me is a small step to make people feel welcome in Poulsbo.”
Councilmember Gary McVey agreed. “I do not see this as a political issue, I see this as a human issue,” he said. “I am aware of cities and municipalities across the world that fly the gay pride flag and others at various times of the year.”
The council also approved an opioid settlement allocation agreement that could see the city receiving between $9,000 and $12,000 a year over a 10-year period that would go toward substance abuse and other related programs.
In December, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced resolutions with five opioid companies: Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Teva and Allergan. The five settlements will bring Washington approximately $434 million over 15 years if all conditions are met, documents read.
Washington cities and counties will receive around $217 million if each eligible city and county joins the settlement by approving, signing and returning the necessary forms.