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Enumclaw City Council candidate debate - Part II

Enumclaw City Council candidate debate Part I

Editor’s Note: For the second week City Council candidates for positions one, three, five and seven responded to three in-paper debate questions presented by the editorial department and columnist Rich Elfers.

The candidates are :

Position No. 1 Morgan Irwin. Pamela Harding has withdrawn although her statement is in the voter’s pamphlet.

Position No. 3: Mike Sando. Shelby  DeVol has withdrawn.

Position No. 5: Tom Mann and Juanita Carstens.

Position No. 7:  Hoke Overland and Sean Krebs.

 

Position No. 5: Tom Mann and Juanita Carstens

Question 1: During last Wednesday’s city budget workshop, it was announced Creationfest will be ending its contract to use the Expo Center with the city.  What should the city do with the Expo Center considering there will be an additional $60,000-$80,000 deficit to Expo reserves?

Carstens: Losing CreationFest is a blow but with a facility like the Expo Center we are always going to be looking for new groups and new events to use the venue.  Attracting events  and marketing the facility to a wide range of users has to be first and foremost on the agenda.  We should target smaller groups, like farmer’s markets, entrepreneurs that have wares to sell, as well as larger groups, like the Highland Games and the Olympic Kennel Club Dog Show, which are popular.  Filling the calendar will benefit not only the profitability of the Expo Center but it will also be great for our local businesses.  City administrators, council and expo staff are diligently working with purpose to best address this question.

Mann: As a candidate I don’t have all the facts needed to make the best decision for the residents of Enumclaw, but I do have some thoughts and envision Enumclaw being competitive with other medium-sized venues. I continue to believe, we need to stay the course. Expo Center Management has done a good job cutting deficit spending by close to $250,000 over the past couple of years and I believe they will do their best to backfill and offset this loss of revenue. To begin we should explore the King County parks levy and grants. Longer term, we may need to consider a request for pricing from the private sector to manage and maintain the facility. We could easily craft the pricing request to protect the jobs of the existing workforce.

 

Question 2: Address any issue not yet addressed in the campaign.

Carstens: For those of us who live here, Enumclaw is a fabulous community.  We have good schools, churches, charity organizations and a lot of citizen involvement.  One thing that I believe to be important to the health of our community is managing future growth and building.  As a retired Realtor, I have a unique perspective on the future housing needs of not only our current residents but also those who would like to move here and make Enumclaw their home.  I am looking forward to using a commonsense, proactive approach when dealing with future growth.

Mann: During Wednesday’s workshop, it was confirmed that funding was previously set aside and proposed in the budget to pay for a special ballot measure to fund road repair consistent with Enumclaw’s Transportation Benefit District. With many of our roads crumbling, why haven’t we engaged our citizens in a meaningful way to explain we have needed a funding mechanism since 2007?  This is when the city last hired a consultant and contemplated developing a pavement management program. The longer we wait, the more expensive it is for needed repairs. I

don’t think delaying this discussion with our citizens is prudent. Without a funding plan, senior citizen, youth and family service programs will continue to be affected by the draw on the general fund to pay for street repairs.

 

Closing statement

Carstens: I have lived in Enumclaw most of my life. I have raised my family here and my grandchildren attend Enumclaw schools.  I have owned a business in Enumclaw and have worked selling real estate on the Plateau for many years.  When I was approached in the spring about running for City Council, I gave it a lot of thought.  I like the idea of giving back to the community that has given so much to me and my family over the years. I live here, I’ve worked here and I volunteer here.  This is home.

Mann: I have lived in Enumclaw for years. I raised my children here. I have the same concerns about this city as the neighbors and constituents I visited door to door during this campaign. In my role as senior staff for the Teamster organization, my strengths included managing budgets and costs with direct contact and accountability to my constituents. While some try to divide us into “one of us, or one of them” I am sure all candidates share a primary interest to maintain the quality of life in Enumclaw. Including maintaining our streets, parks, our public safety and the delivery of quality public services the community has said it wants. This is the time to decide if we want business as usual or inclusiveness, transparency and accountability for our community.

 

Position No. 7:  Hoke Overland and Sean Krebs

Question 1: During last Wednesday’s city budget workshop, it was announced Creationfest will be ending its contract to use the Expo Center with the city.  What should the city do with the Expo Center considering there will be an additional $60,000-$80,000 deficit to Expo reserves?

Krebs: First, I want to note that the question actually seems to be asking about Expo Center revenue, not “reserves.” It’s unfortunate that the city is facing this further lack of revenue, but it is better to learn about it during budget planning than if we had anticipated receiving that money next year. Earlier this year, council directed administration to form an Expo Center Advisory Board, made up of interested and knowledgeable stakeholders, to consider the issues and provide guidance to council. At the next council meeting, administration will report back on the progress of this board. Council has a workshop planned to address this further deficiency. I continue to believe that the best course for the Expo Center is to adopt a business plan and a long-term management strategy. I would like to see among the considered alternatives the possibility of a private vendor taking over management and operations of the Expo Center.

Overland: Summer is the Expo Center’s prime season and some of that revenue gap can be filled by other events. However, Creation’s departure underscores the need for a quality hotel or two in Enumclaw; the town’s lack of lodging options has been one of the Expo’s most difficult obstacles. Our Economic Development Committee must get busy and rectify this hotel problem, and our current council’s position on Creationfest may not have been helpful. Ultimately, the Expo Center must be able to compete like a business—including having a city that’s prepared to host.

Other ideas for additional revenue include: attractions such as an early settlers/Native American interactive museum, a children’s museum (on-going draws to bring busloads of children and tourists), or even use some of the property as an incubator to allow inexpensive rent for start-up businesses, such as wineries. Woodinville and Walla Walla are two successful examples.

Question 2: Address any issue not yet addressed in the campaign.

Krebs: During a campaign, it’s easy to focus on a single issue. But the reality of being a council member is much different. Each council member is one part of a seven-person body that oversees all the services the city provides, including public safety, utilities, zoning, parks and recreation management, and perhaps most importantly, the budget and the comprehensive plan, a state-required document that impacts nearly all the decisions and planning for the city for the next several years. Council members have to identify common sense approaches and pragmatic solutions to the challenges and opportunities the city faces. I would have liked to see candidates focus more on exploring their ideas to address actual city issues, but I guess that’s politics.

Overland: My opponent has headed the Economic Development Committee for the last four years. Many of our problems stem from this committee’s lack of action. Other nearby communities are flourishing, yet last year Enumclaw issued only two residential permits and one commercial permit. And, as everyone knows, we have a very unstable downtown business economy with revolving storefronts. While we don’t need a lot of growth, we do need some planned, quality growth. We don’t want to change our charm, but we do want to keep this town alive and generate enough revenue to pay the city bills. I’m for working hard to attract new businesses, encourage new quality residential development and gain two nice hotels to support tourism. As a town we have lots of people working on independent goals, but to solve our issues we must begin to work together as a community.

Closing statement

Krebs: I’ve enjoyed my years of serving the citizens of Enumclaw as a council member. As the most experienced council member candidate, my leadership will be helpful as the city faces difficult challenges in allocating scarce resources. If elected to the Enumclaw City Council, I will bring experience and leadership to Position 7. I have served three terms as a City Council member, am currently mayor pro tem, and chair the Finance and Community and Economic Development Committees. I am past president of the King County Fair Board and a certified municipal leader through the Association of Washington Cities. I understand our budget process and appreciate the responsibility to be good stewards with taxpayer dollars and infrastructure needs. My experience and common sense approach to leadership will help guide Enumclaw into the future.

Overland: We can’t satisfy our day-to-day shopping needs in town, so we spend our shopping and tax dollars in other nearby communities. If we can’t draw niche stores to meet our local shopping demands, we need to attract a small-scale Fred Meyer or something similar—not Walmart—to the Highway 410 district, and downtown’s focus should become tourism-oriented shopping.

If elected, I will protect our city’s charm and use your tax dollars wisely to serve the interests of our citizens. As chief of operations for King County Medic One, I know the importance of fostering a collaborative environment to expedite a unified outcome. Enumclaw is at a critical point, fighting for its quality of life, and we need action—not more talk. I thank Councilman Krebs for serving on our council for 12 years, but it’s time for fresh ideas. Let’s return Enumclaw to a vibrant, thriving place.

 

Position No. 3: Mike Sando

Question 1: During last Wednesday’s city budget workshop, it was announced Creationfest will be ending its contract to use the Expo Center with the city.  What should the city do with the Expo Center considering there will be an additional $60,000-$80,000 deficit to Expo reserves?

Sando: This is really disappointing news, but it doesn’t change my view about the Expo Center. As I said last week, we should balance the general fund impact with the positive economic activity that benefits our businesses and community.  With that in mind, I believe that we can re-double our efforts and work to increase the use of the Expo Center. We should continue to reach out and recruit other events and organizations to come to Enumclaw and look to create some events of our own that would bring people in from the region. I stand ready to aid that effort.

Question 2: Address any issue not yet addressed in the campaign.

Sando: I want to tip my hat to my opponent (Shelby DeVol) for being willing to run for office and for the thoughtful discourse.  On the campaign trail I have heard many positive things about her and wish her well in the future.

Closing statement

I also want to thank all of the wonderful people that I have met during the campaign; it truly is a humbling experience to step up and run for office.  I will work to earn the community’s trust and look forward to hearing your questions and concerns.  Feel free to call me at home at 825-5449.

 

Position No. 1 Morgan Irwin.

Question 1: During last Wednesday’s city budget workshop, it was announced Creationfest will be ending its contract to use the Expo Center with the city.  What should the city do with the Expo Center considering there will be an additional $60,000-$80,000 deficit to Expo reserves?

Irwin: While it is disappointing to hear that Creationfest is leaving given the past management of the Expo Center it is not entirely surprising. We have not made this tenant feel welcome and are now facing the repercussions of poor relationship management. Going forward we can use this experience as a guide post for building strong relationships with those who rent the venue and seek to make them feel welcome, not just use them to fill budget gaps. As I stated in my previous responses large long-term losses from the Expo Center cannot be sustained, with that said the facility is in a transition and losses seem likely in the near future. We will work to correct that as we move toward a better run facility.

 

Question 2: Address any issue not yet addressed in the campaign.

Irwin: I ran for Enumclaw’s City Council to maintain the identity of our community as we grow and adapt to a changing future. Part of that growth should come from business. Right now the permitting process for new construction within the city limits is slower and more arduous than it is in unincorporated King County. Given our location and aspirations for smart growth I believe special emphasis should be directed toward policies that make Enumclaw a desirable location for companies whose goals line up with those intrinsic to our residents. Trying to front load City revenue with a complicated permitting process is short sighted and will diminish returns over time by pushing business away. Making business feel welcome and collecting annual revenues will build a strong community infrastructure and help to diversify our revenue streams. Streamlining processes for new and existing businesses will be high on my agenda.

Closing statement

While I am running unopposed I appreciate this opportunity to share my beliefs and views with the community. I will not always agree with every constituent in Enumclaw but my actions will always reflect what I believe to be right for our community and in line with the will of voters. I will make myself available to any and all who have concerns with decisions made or to be made. In truth I encourage more civic engagement by all. Routinely my most enlightening conversations have been with community members not currently elected to office. I believe Enumclaw is poised on the edge of major opportunities which will affect the way we and others view this community. I am committed to developing and managing a smart and strategic growth plan that honors our rural heritage while making well-reasoned growth decisions.

 

 

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