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Ephrata’s ‘new’ mayor pro tem looks at growing as residents choose

by R. HANS MILLER
Managing Editor | February 1, 2024 1:35 AM

EPHRATA — After serving on the Ephrata City Council since 2015, Matt Moore has taken on a new title: Mayor pro tem. 

“My election coincides with Bruce (Reim) being elected to mayor,” Moore said. “I basically have Bruce’s old seat on the council, so my experience has been a little bit under his wing to a degree,” Moore said. 

The position of mayor pro tempore, or just mayor pro tem, includes a few duties, Moore said. In the mayor’s absence, the pro tem position sits in and runs city council meetings. Likewise, if the mayor has more than one obligation or is absent for some reason, he can have the mayor pro tem attend events in his stead. 

Moore said he grew up in Ephrata and has worked with his father, brother and uncle at Moore Furniture right on Basin Street in downtown, making it easy to connect with residents. He figures it likely makes him the most visible member of the council outside of the mayor simply because of his easy availability. 

Moore is a graduate of Washington State University and his wife, Stephanie Moore, is from Issaquah. While they initially lived on the West Side of the Cascades after getting together, they eventually decided to move back to Ephrata as children became an interest. 

“The Issaquah she grew up in is a lot closer to the Ephrata we have now,” Moore said. “So, when it was time to start a family, I was able to talk her into coming back here. I had wanted to see what the rest of the world had to offer, but I had always planned to come back to the family business.” 

The furniture store is, as far as Moore has been able to tell, the longest-operating family furniture store in Washington. The first location opened in 1911 in Wenatchee and continues to run under the same family’s ownership. Moore is a fifth-generation resident of Ephrata and has a deep appreciation for the town and a desire to take care of it that links back to his roots, he said. 

Since moving back, he’s tried to be involved in the community. He’s active in his church and pitches in wherever he can otherwise. Being at one of the largest retailers in town helps him stay connected with his constituents and having children — his oldest just started at WSU — helps keep him in touch with residents. 

His goals as a member of the council are pretty simple, Moore said. He wants to help the city have the opportunity to be whatever the residents want it to be. If they want a quieter, bedroom community, he’s willing to support that. If residents prefer to bring in some larger employers and grow the city, he’ll support that. He sees his role as one of giving Ephrata whatever support residents want as a general consensus. 

“I think Ephrata’s vision has always been one of a quieter bedroom community,” he said. “So, that will be the big challenge — I guess I’ll refer to it as a challenge — going forward over the next 10 years or so is whether that (is the case), if that’s the vision (Ephratans) want to maintain, or if we have differing opinions on what Ephrata wants to be when it grows up.” 

In the meantime, Moore wants to help streamline whatever processes might lead to opportunities for the city to take or leave as residents see fit. He wants streamlined permitting processes, well-maintained infrastructure and sensible regulations that allow the older parts of town to continue to be utilized without meeting unreasonable expectations from a code perspective. Historic buildings still offer safety and facilities that can be used and aren’t necessarily going to be able to add parking as required under some city codes. He wants to preserve the past while preparing for the future, he said. 

“I’m going to be pushing more in the years to come to make sure we don’t have (that issue),” he said. “Ephrata can’t afford to be a city that has extra hurdles, as hard as it is to attract and keep businesses. We can’t be adding reasons why they don’t want to be here; adding reasons why they can’t stay.” 

Helping businesses and residents help themselves succeed is the overall goal he said. Adding expense to a project, such as opening a business in an existing downtown building, shouldn’t be the priority. Keeping the city vital and thriving is more important than adding a fee for a signage permit.

As his term moves forward, Moore said he’s excited to hear what Ephratans have to say about their wants for the future of the city. 

R. Hans “Rob” Miller may be reached at editor@columbiabasinherald.com.

    Matt Moore is a fifth-generation resident of Ephrata and said he wants to preserve the city’s quality of life while moving the city forward toward what residents want it to be. His family owns and operates Moore Furniture, likely the oldest family-owned furniture store in Washington.
 
 
    Ephrata Mayor Pro Tem Matt Moore listens to a presentation during a 2023 Ephrata City Council meeting. Moore said there are challenges with the city's growth and development and he wants things streamlined to ensure Ephrata is in a position to grab the opportunities that may come its way.