DUVALL, Wash. — Born and raised in Puyallup, Wash., Becky Nixon moved to the farming town of Carnation in the Snoqualmie Valley in 1989 and immediately took an interest in community’s affairs as a leader and advocate.
Becky really loves where she lives and calls her town an “odd little duck out there in the country” about 25 miles northeast of Seattle. She and her family moved from an up-scale development on the Sammamish Plateau east of Seattle to three acres along the Tolt River, in the lower Snoqualmie Valley.
“It was a mix of personalities and economic status in Carnation,” she said. “One of our neighbors didn't have, or want, electricity or running water. It was perfect.”
As a citizen of Duvall, let’s just say Becky has done it all. After she moved to Duvall in 1999 she served as mayor from 2002 to 2006. Many other community-oriented positions followed and after taking several years off, she was elected to the town council in 2012.
A change in the wind
After her move into town there was an influx of high-tech workers from Microsoft and the town became more of a technology-sourced community and grew to more than 7,000 residents.
During the technology boon the city began to grow in a different ways. The dairy farmers went up to Linden near Vancouver and Duvall became a Seattle suburb with small-town charm, and a median income of $111,000.
One of the benefits of living in Washington is that residents pay no income tax. One of the drawbacks is that funding for youth, senior, special-needs and community groups must be raised through the private sector. “We get our government funding through sales tax,” Becky said. “So when the economy takes a dip, the sales tax revenue goes down and the government has less and less money to give to their social and non-profit programs.”
In Duvall and the surrounding communities the private sector includes businesses and many individuals that step up to the plate and provide money to run the programs.
“I am far from the only one,” she said. “I am very proud of our volunteers. It’s not a huge group. About 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work, but that 10 percent believes whole heartedly in giving back to the community.
“People think it's the old people that volunteer but Becky hasn’t necessarily seen that. She said it’s wonderful to watch the younger families with kids get involved too.
“There are days where volunteers come to pick up garbage or clean up the parks and Duvall has a lot of those days,” she said. “When I was mayor we had a Revitalize the Town Day and 125 people showed up to painted City Hall, curbs, water hydrants and other things all over the downtown area.”
Becky admitted that sometimes you have to invite people to volunteer, but once they do there is a lot of satisfaction in knowing you are part of a group that wants to maintain a high level of service for those that can’t afford it while creating a cohesive community group.”
It takes a village
Since government isn’t funding special programs at the level it once did, Duvall volunteers are taking care of their own community. A lot of people feel strongly about government providing for nonprofits, but instead of arguing politics Duvall’s volunteers decided to put their money where their mouths are and give what they can to make sure those less fortunate get what they need.
Becky has sponsored the Sno-Valley Senior Steak Dinner in her insurance agency's name for the past 10 years, but education and youth programs are also high on her list of priorities.
“I love the high quality of education in our valley,” she said. “Our school system is phenomenal. As a past board member I am awed with the amount of money organization give to Riverview programs.
And the community appreciates her as well.
“When I was mayor they commissioned a small commemorative plaque for me from my favorite local artist,” Becky said. “It reads ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ Margaret Mead said that and to this day, I guess that’s my credo.”