Bonney Lake candidates debate – Part II

I used to ride my bike from Spanaway to Puyallup along Meridian when it was 45 mph and not congested; the year was 1974 and I was 13 years old.

Editor’s Note: Candidates for the mayor and City Council positions answered questions for the second week posed by the editorial staff of the Courier-Herald.

The candidates are:

• Mayor, Neil Johnson and James Rackley

• Position 3, Dan Swatman and James “Kelly’’ McClimans, Sr.

• Position 6, Donn Lewis     and Shawnta Mulligan


Position No. 3

• James Kelly McClimans

Question:  Address any issue that you would like.

McClimans: I used to ride my bike from Spanaway to Puyallup along Meridian when it was 45 mph and not congested; the year was 1974 and I was 13 years old.  Look at it now. What happened? One of my concerns is traffic. Specifically, how will Bonney Lake manage traffic wisely? How do we not become like Meridian?

Its about math: more development = more cars; more cars = more congestion; high-density housing = high-density congestion.  The council determines the density of housing by zoning. Therefore, one way to prevent high-density congestion is to prevent high-density housing.  I understand given the Growth Management Act (GMA) this is hard and will be a fight, but it is a fight we must have and win if we are to avoid becoming like Meridian.

Traffic should be one of the top three priorities for the council.  Which means the council needs to ask: Is it more important to develop downtown or relieve traffic congestion?  We need a good 30 year plan and lots of work with county and state agencies to ensure citizens don’t get caught in chronic congestion.  I pledge to ask: How will this reduce congestion? Before voting on council resolutions.

• Dan Swatman

Swatman: The city purchases land now when the land is available, while today the price may seem high or low, the tremendous value of having the land available in the future is undeniable. Land will always be a key component to provide the required space for future needs. Planning today for future needs avoids costly purchases in the future.

A philosophy is used by the city to ensure developers pay for their impacts. The city nor the citizens pay for needed improvements when development happens. Developments such as Renwood, RedRobin or Eastown are all paying for the improvements needed for their development. From the largest to the smallest developer, they are all treated equal, there is no special treatment based on who

you are within the city. I have worked with small businesses, large businesses and residents alike to ensure the city works for everyone and not special interest groups.

Washington state is a very pro open government state. Open access to city government is a priority for me. I continuously insist that all meetings documents and information is available in formats that are accessible by everyone. I firmly believe that everyone needs to be treated equal.


Closing statements

McClimans: Bonney Lake is at a critical point.  We have grown beyond what we can support according to City Council. City Council wants to grow the tax base to generate revenue to solve that problem. Unfortunately, that revenue increase is coming from high-density housing. That is something I just don’t support. If the only way to grow the city is to change its character and jeopardize public safety, then don’t grow! The good news is: we can grow, and grow in a family friendly way.  It takes a long-term vision and focus on families not city government.

At a recent council meeting one councilman reported: “residential doesn’t pay” according to the county.  I want to ensure the culture of our government is: We are here to serve because the residents pay (vote).  It is about our families and small businesses not about city government.

I have discovered when you make an organization spend according to its plan and don’t let it change the plan, then it plans (grows) carefully. My web site: and the voters guide describe what I will commit to do as a council member: spend responsibly, plan responsibly, and grow responsibly.

Swatman: I have the knowledge, skills and ability and a track record of continuously building a better Bonney Lake. After completing my MBA, I enrolled in a Master of Science in Project Management program. This education, combined with practical experience provides me with many skills to be an effective representative. The city now retains an AA+ financial rating, even in these challenging economic times. This means the city has been judged through independent review as being very financially sound.

I prefer to build consensus among interest groups, rather than force issues through with a slim majority vote. I believe the decisions that the council makes will be better, if careful consideration of all points of view is used during the decision-making process.

The knowledge I have from being your current council member enables me to be a very effective council member for you. I have been endorsed by several City Council member’s, Mayor Johnson, Senator Pam Roach and the News Tribune editorial board. I work for you and you can call me or e-mail me anytime at 253-447-4269 or


Position No. 6

• Donn Lewis

Question:  Address any issue that you would like.

Lewis: As a full-time substitute school teacher, I worry about our students having a safe route to get back and forth to school from their homes.  I have continuously strived to ensure we build more sidewalks along common routes.  This provides sidewalks that can “safely” be used along busy Highway 410 or narrow unimproved heavily traveled roads.

The City Council just recently decided to advance funding priority for a Highway 410 sidewalk project to complete the last section of sidewalk between the just finished new sidewalk, located just east of our new Highway 410/Main Street intersection (near new Franciscan medical building), then run east along Highway 410 to connect with the completed sidewalk at the Junction 192 shopping center on 192nd Ave.

We need more sidewalks north-to-south and other parts of the city to ensure a safe route for our kids.  That was the continuous theme voiced to obtain our grant for the new Fennel Creek Trail, which had its official grand opening this past Saturday.  I’ve worked with numerous safety groups, schools, businesses, and residents to ensure this network of city sidewalks doesn’t stop.  I will continue to strive for them!

• Shawnta Mulligan

Mulligan: There are many critical topics to address, but one issue that arises consistently while door-belling is the city’s communication with citizens. The city must better-relate their reasoning and actions. I have spent hours investigating the city’s website and listening to council meeting recordings to find information about the city’s use of tax dollars and future plans. The city’s online calendar needs to link to the related topic and documents. The council needs to leverage technology, video and social media to better-inform citizens of council decisions and how council decisions may affect individual neighborhoods.

Because of the city’s efforts to quietly pass a property tax increase in April, I have been monitoring the agenda for each council meeting. In June, the city was proposing a transportation plan. In the plan, residents on a quiet residential street would be forced to give up 10 feet of their front yard to accommodate hundreds of cars that a new 180 unit apartment complex would add. I walked to each property affected and showed the residents the plan. Surprisingly, they had not been informed and were very concerned about the city’s plans. This scenario is an example of poor communication. I would like to fix this problem. Better communication and government transparency will create a better, citizen-driven, community.

Closing statements

Lewis: I retired as a colonel after 34 years in the Air Force on active duty serving our county and working through higher levels of responsibility dealing with million dollar budgets and continuously trying to spend our tax dollars wisely.  I’ve brought this same experience and efficient attitude with me to my position on the City Council. I do have the knowledge, skills, ability, and a track record of trying to improve our city of Bonney Lake.  I have always tried to look at each issue from all sides and believe that careful consideration of all points of view is needed during the decision-making process.

The knowledge gained from almost four years as your current council member enables me to be a very effective council member for you. I have been endorsed by Mayor Johnson, several City Council member’s,  Sen. Pam Roach and the News Tribune editorial board. I continuously work for you and please call me or e-mail me anytime at 253-826-5431 or

Mulligan: I am concerned about the citizens of Bonney Lake and believe they deserve better representation. I moved here 10 years ago to escape from urban sprawl, live near family and start a family of my own. Now, I am concerned that the city is serving itself rather than the citizens who reside here. The city’s obsession with a “downtown” plan is a large reason why they city has no money for parks or sidewalks. It has spent over $11,000,000 trying to build a downtown; what do citizens have to show for it?

I am also concerned that the state and the county are forcing growth requirements on the city that will change the city’s fabric. Growth needs to be approached in a very measured and responsible way—with consideration given to the citizens who already live here. Cul-de-sacs create community, keep our kids safe, and deter crime. We should not make an effort to remove them from future planning.

You, the citizen, are the primary stake holder in the city. Your family, although not sitting through every council meeting, deserves honest and courageous representation.



• Neil Johnson

Question:  Address any issue that you would like.

Johnson: As you know, in August 2011 I had a stem cell transplant to help cure the leukemia that I was diagnosed with earlier that year. During this  time I continued to fulfill my mayoral duties commuting between Seattle and Bonney Lake. In November 2011 I was told that I was in molecular remission and to this day that is still the case. As you could imagine, I have now become  a professional patient so my schedule stays full with ongoing visits to my doctors. I am hopeful these will decrease over time.

Just recently, I had the opportunity to meet my stem cell donor who I thought lived in Washington D.C.. To my surprise, she moved to the Seattle area in late 2012. Last weekend I had the privilege to have her out to the house for dinner and show her around Bonney Lake. In talking to her, she was impressed with the fifth largest city in Pierce County which makes me feel blessed to be part of such a great community. This city has supported me a great deal during a tough time which is one of the reasons why I love being your mayor and representing Bonney Lake.

• James Rackley

Rackley: One question I have been asked about several times and again today is traffic cameras. My answer has been and is we don’t need any more spying around here. We were doing just fine without them for years. There will be some areas of special needs for cameras but not traffic. The city’s experiment with them in school zones worked, and has had lasting positive effects.

Closing statements

Johnson: Well, another election year is almost over. I hope you have stayed safe during these foggy days.

We have come a long way in building a strong community, so let’s stay the course to complete what we have started.  My theme has always been “Think Bonney Lake First”, and everything I have tried to do is with the best interests of the community in mind. Since being elected  mayor in November 2005, I have worked with the council to create a long-term vision and an atmosphere of team.  The city continues to remain stable among staff in all departments which helps us maintain  efficient and effective public safety, improvement of our local lakes, parks, and implementing the sidewalk, streetlight and downtown plans. With the new Good Sam and Franciscan medical complexes and the much anticipated Red Robin restaurant, you can see firsthand the strong working relationship I have with the council to make sure we continue to build a strong community.

I have been endorsed by six of the seven City Council member’s, Sen. Pam Roach and County Councilman Dan Roach. For more detailed information, please visit

Rackley: I can’t imagine going to my boss and saying that, “Because I misunderstood what people were saying to me I wasted over $28,000 of your money.”  What would you expect your boss to say to you? Bonney Lake will survive and prosper only if your government listens to its citizens.

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