Making our Home in Walla Walla

My family moved to Walla Walla three years ago, driven by the desire to move to a smaller town and accelerated by discovering the charm of Walla Walla, including a wonderful house that has become our home.  My wife Colette is from Washington, she grew up in the Seattle area, spent summers on her grandparents’ farm on the banks of the Salmon River and graduated from Whitworth College in Spokane. She and I met in Boulder Colorado, where she went to graduate school.  When our daughter was ready to start first grade, we moved to Lafayette, a small town similar to Walla Walla.  In the diverse people of Lafayette, I found my calling in community service.  I was elected for two terms in the Lafayette City Council and served as Mayor Pro-Tem.  As my father-in-law’s Alzheimer’s disease progressed, we wanted to be closer to Seattle to be more available to help. We did not want to move to a large city, and we enjoy the sunnier, dryer climate of Eastern Washington, so we came to Walla Walla for a scouting trip during Spring Release weekend.  We loved the small-town character and the strong sense of community in Walla Walla. That same weekend we found a house we loved within walking distance to WaHi and local parks. We attended a concert in the Power House theatre, ate at great restaurants and enjoyed the proximity to open spaces. That weekend, we knew Walla Walla was our new home.  We made an offer on our house and began our move.  My wife got a job at Whitman College, and I continued my work at Intel, where I manage International marketing.  Most of my work is global and, though my office is in the Intel Portland campus, I mostly work remote from home. Since the moment we arrived, I’ve found opportunities to serve on projects that support the very things that attracted us to Walla Walla. One of my goals for serving on City Council is to contribute my experience, leadership and vision, and to continue to be a part of building a strong and healthy community for our daughter and our future generations.

We did it!

Based on the final tally by the Walla Walla elections office, and with only a few additional ballots left to count, it is certain that our campaign won the Walla Walla City Council at-large seat with 53.4% of the vote. I am thrilled to have won the election and excited for the opportunity to serve in City Council.

This victory was accomplished largely because of you. Your support provided the confidence and means to share my message.  From the initial moment I engaged the community and began to share our message of collaboration and unity, I received strong feedback that this is precisely what is wanted and needed in Walla Walla. 

With your support and contributions, we were able to canvas the city, knock on doors, produce postcards, door hangers, yard signs, social media and advertisements to convey our message and our vision for the future.

After the final tally was published on Friday, I took a moment to celebrate a campaign executed with integrity, honesty and focused on community building. Today, I take a moment to express my gratitude for the many ways in which you contributed to the campaign.

As I have said before, my goal is to listen and represent your voice. As a City Councilor, I will continue to communicate with you and share the work ahead and the concerns and challenges that we all need to address together.

Thank you and warm regards.


Rediscovering the Humanity in us all

I recognize that running for public office is not a task that too many people are comfortable pursuing, however it does have its moments of joy.  The best part of the campaign, so far, has been the insightful conversations that I have had with a variety of folks in town.  I heard about the difficulties and challenges that a Vietnam Vet has endured to secure housing and mental health care and mostly respect.  I was moved by the concerns from a retired teacher struggling to find an affordable apartment and wondering whether she is going to be able to age in the place she loves. I had a productive talk with a contractor who is having difficulty finding enough skilled workers to complete his projects and wondering what the future holds for an industry without skilled workers.  I enjoyed talking with the brilliant young woman and her dad who had poignant questions about our collective history, public safety and education.  I learned so much from the young man with cognitive disabilities who worries that his exuberance might be misconstrued, resulting in social exclusion. I also have my own reflections about the dedicated and compassionate nursing staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to ensure that we all have access to vaccines, and the firefighters who work tirelessly to keep us safe and have made every possible effort to ensure that we understand the full extent of the fire danger that we face under current climate conditions.  

The most rewarding conversations for me have been listening to some of our city elders, who have maintained a constant vision for making Walla Walla such an exceptional place to live.  Supporting our city in being a sustainable and livable community takes all of us working together. Developing the blueprint to protect the small-town character of Walla Walla, promoting more walkable streets and bike routes, ensuring that we plant trees, protecting opens spaces, managing our water consumption, and providing housing and services for the people who live and work here, has been a vision illuminating the work to be done, work we can pursue together.

When we listen to each other and understand the humanity in each of us, that is when we truly build a community, united in pursuing common goals and committed to make this a city a place where we all belong and we are all proud and grateful to call home.

Our Collective Vision

Many members of the organizations that I currently serve on various boards asked me to step in at this challenging moment, and contribute my leadership and skills to the Walla Walla City Council. I am running for the Walla Walla City Council position 3, the at-large seat because I want to represent and serve the diverse population across the whole city.  

This is a crucial time for our city, for our future.  The municipal elections are the ones that impact our daily lives and our future most directly and most immediately.  Like you, I am proud and grateful to call Walla Walla home and to enjoy the privilege of living in one of the most charming and livable small cities in the country.

In addition to my work as a global marketing manager for Intel, I serve as the chair of the Community Council affordable housing implementation task force, and on the boards of the Community Council, the Health Center and Providence St Mary’s Mission Board.

My experience serving in the City Council includes five years as the Mayor Pro-Tem for the city of Lafayette, Colorado, a community very similar to our own; about 30,000 residents in 10 square miles, with a diverse and eclectic community, surrounded by agriculture and horse ranches, with a significant historic legacy. 

I believe that each of you cares deeply about the future of our community, and each of you has ideas about what you want for the city of Walla Walla.

I believe that the best way to predict the future is to create it.

Together, we can create our future. 

My previous experience serving in City Council taught me that thriving, communities share some common principles: 

  1. active resident engagement
  2. focus on community goals that bring people together
  3. a clear vision of they want to be as a community
  4. effective, committed leadership.

I am committed to work from these four pillars

  • to represent your voice
  • to advocate for the common goals that can bring us together
  • to champion our vision for our city 
  • Effective leadership requires not only experience, skills and the passion to serve, it requires the proactive commitment to raise our standards of service and create a culture of empathy and excellence in all of our city staff.

That is the standard I set for myself and that is the commitment I make to you.

  1. My vision is to plan for smart and sustainable growth, preserving the small-town character of Walla Walla, enhancing our public spaces, parks and plazas, and applying ideas from modern urban planning to improve human scale, livability and affordability.  
  2. My vision also includes creating a cooperative and sustainable local business environment, promoting local enterprises, developing unique commercial zones where local entrepreneurs, artists, craftspeople, health providers and community centers can grow and prosper.   
  3. We need to enhance public safety, promote community engagement, develop and preserve affordable housing, support diverse education and work opportunities for our youth, create economic development and urban renewal projects in our central business area, and develop a sustainability action plan.

I believe that it is within our power to ensure that Walla Walla continues to be a great place for everyone to live, raise a family and run a business. 

Together we can build a thriving, affordable, prosperous community. 

Together we can define and create the future we envision, a city where we all belong and thrive and are proud to call home.

Walla Walla Union Bulletin


Gustavo Reyna announces run for Walla Walla City Council at-large seat

Former mayor pro-tem in Lafayette, Colorado, Gustavo Reyna, announced Friday, May 7, he will run for Walla Walla City Council’s Position 3, an at-large seat, in the election this year.

Currently, Council member Myron Huie holds the position, representing the whole city and not one of the specific four wards.

Huie has not announced if he will run for reelection, but he said if he does, he intends to run for the South Ward seat, wanting to represent the ward where he lives.

Reyna, his wife Colette and their daughter Gabriela moved to Walla Walla in 2018 to be closer to family and loved the town during a visit.

Reyna has worked for Intel Corporation for eight years and is currently a global strategic marketing manager. He has been a marketing professional for around 20 years in high-tech, software, computers and systems companies.

He received his Bachelors in Communications from the University of Maryland and went on to get a graduate degree in Management of Information Systems from the University of Denver.

He believes his experience serving for five years as Mayor Pro-Tem in Lafayette, Colorado, will significantly benefit the similarly sized town and its residents.

“I want to use my experience developing a prosperous and thriving community to envision the future of our unique city and culture here in Walla Walla,” Reyna said. “I represent the aspirations of the emerging generations of Walla Walla residents, focused on opportunities, affordability, equity and quality of life.”

In his tenure in Lafayette, he was a part of many city initiatives, including an ordinance to increase the amount of land dedicated to parks and open spaces and an ordinance protecting the small-town character of their old town, according to a release.

Other accomplishments during his terms with the city include acquiring land to build affordable housing, developing a community Arts Collective and making commitments to solar energy, sustainability and smart transportation for the city.

“I can bring different perspectives together into a single conversation where we can come with the best idea because we welcome different perspectives and different ways to see the big picture,” Reyna said looking back to his time in community service in Lafayette and reflecting on what he can bring to the Walla Walla City Council.