Council candidates air views on city issues

Oct 03, 2013

As in past elections, the Beacon asked City Council candidates to respond to a series of questions on how they would work on some of the major issues facing the City of Edmonds.

This year, there are six candidates vying for three seats; three incumbents are seeking reelection, and each is facing one challenger.

To be fair, we sent our questions to each of the candidates at the same time and gave each the same deadline to respond. All of them did.

We then asked an objective person to draw numbers out of a hat to determine the order we will run the candidates’ responses. Over the next three weeks, we’ll run the responses from each of the two candidates who are running for the same position.

This week, we’ll run the responses from incumbent Strom Peterson and challenger Alvin Rutledge, who are running for Position #2.

On Oct. 10, we’ll run the responses from incumbent Kristiana Johnson and challenger Randy Hayden, who are running for Position #1.

On Oct. 17, we’ll run the responses from incumbent Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and challenger Ron Wambolt, who are running for Position #3.

Ballots are scheduled to be mailed on Oct. 17.

Our questions:

1) The issue of height limits, as one person put it, is "the third rail" in Edmonds politics. As we saw with the recent Harbor Square redevelopment discussions, it's a difficult issue. Please explain your position on building heights, and why.

2) As you know, the city finance director recently reported that revenues are up. At the same time, the city has made major cuts in expenditures. With the likelihood that the city will have an improved revenue stream in 2014, and whether or not you are already on the council, what would be your budget priorities for the coming year?

3) Since the nation's economic and political future could remain cloudy indefinitely, what is your long-term vision for helping move Edmonds forward boldly but safely?

 

Alvin Rutledge:

1) No height increases future of City of Edmonds. We must respect views enjoyed by our city residents, and become the kind of city you want it to be, remain the special city it is today. NO INCREASE BUILDING HEIGHTS.

2) Serving the community and its best interests will always be my top priorities. INTEREST: 2009 Fire District #1 purchased from City of Edmonds: 3 fire stations/land valued $8.3 million; 17 vehicles at $1.4 million with other assets $350,000 amount of $10 million payment plan.

$3 million 2010

$2 million 2011-2012=2013-2014 $8 million.

Cash balance 2009 $1 million. Cash balance 2013 (finance director) $10.6 million

Note: saving of $800,000 each year (public safety account)

OTHER PRIORITIES:

It’s imperative we repair our roads and implement a pavement preservation program.

Protect public safety without new general fund taxes.

Reduce our debt and maintain essential city services.

Visiting bureau director (city) visitors to our city events new & old public we need to have increased revenue.

3) Faced with challenges we have to accommodate growth while preserving the basic small town character of our community.

Public safety protections, police, fire, medical services, and future shoreline with Highway 99 development further our long-range vision for a vibrant city, will be effective at communicating its mission and vision for the City of Edmonds setting policy for the next long-term health of our city.

Thank you for your support.

I appreciate your vote.

 

Strom Peterson:

1) There’s a different answer for every part of town. When there is an opportunity to build something new, whether it be at Westgate, Five Corners, Highway 99 or downtown, we need to decide what is good for the community first. Are we looking for some open space or a pocket park to create a place for people to gather? Do we want “green” building so Edmonds can continue to be a regional leader in reducing our carbon footprint and protecting our environment? Are we trying to find more affordable housing opportunities for seniors so they might be able to downsize from a single family home and stay in Edmonds or to allow a young family to move here? Do we want to attract a boutique hotel or other specific business? If the answer to any or all of these questions is “yes” than let’s figure out a way to get these amenities from the developer.  We are in the driver’s seat and we can get the community assets we want and need. To try to put this very complex issue into black and white terms is simply a disservice to Edmonds voters.

2) We are not out of the woods yet. While it looks like revenues will have a modest uptick, we are not in a position to start spending wildly. The revenues that do come in, however, must be allocated to the areas we have cut from previous city budgets, not on new projects. The first areas we have to address are the maintenance projects that we have deferred over the past decade. Number one on that list is roads. We have not paved a road with city funds for years, and making temporary fixes to potholes will only go so far. Our city streets are getting worse, and the longer we wait to make needed improvements, the more expensive they will become. I will use what revenues we can to fix our roads and improve our sidewalks.

Another area that has been cut is public safety. We no longer have a crime prevention unit and have fewer police officers on the street. That is not a long-term solution to an increasing population. We also need to ensure that our fire stations remain fully staffed with the properly trained EMT personnel.  I will not allow any personnel reduction to our firefighters and EMTs.

3) Despite what might be happening (or not happening) in Washington DC, Edmonds must be ready to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. We have made significant improvements in our permitting processes over the last few years and it has shown with the addition of Dick’s Drive-In and Panerra Bread, just to name a couple. We also have been working diligently with Swedish-Edmonds Hospital and their multi-million dollar expansion and improvement to that campus. And this has all taken place during a very tough economic downturn. We have opportunities from Highway 99, Five-Corners, Westgate and the downtown/waterfront areas to attract new businesses and new economic opportunities. We can’t, however, just look to attract the new businesses, but must do everything we can to support our existing businesses. I have been a strong supporter of the Downtown Edmonds Business Improvement District and will support other BIDs throughout the city. We have also just scratched the surface on our fiber optic capabilities and what that could mean for city revenues. I will also remain an ardent supporter of our arts community, knowing how important they are to our local economy. Whether it’s a show at ECA or the Edmonds Arts Festival, bringing people in from out of town is an important facet of our economy. There are no easy fixes or big answers. Instead we must continue to find small opportunities, continue to improve our permitting process, and remain competitive in the marketplace.

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