The Courier-Herald editorial staff is conducting an newspaper debate in the coming editions for Enumclaw City Council Position No. 2.
• Kimberly Lauk
I became involved in this campaign because I am very concerned about protecting our historic rural community. Enumclaw was once a logging and farming community and that rich history is the heart and soul of this town. Farms, farmland and our surrounding timberlands to the east are what make this community a beautiful place to live, raise our families, and for seniors to safely retire. We don’t want Enumclaw to become like Auburn or Federal Way in the next few years. Already we have too much traffic trying to get onto and off of the Plateau on our overtaxed roadways. Check out the miles of back ups some days just trying to get to Buckley from Enumclaw in the afternoon. What caught my interest was the current council’s plans of overturning preservation to develop farmland in Enumclaw and developing forests in the White River Tree Farm to the East. Although I support planned, responsible growth in the years to come, it is critical that infrastructure be in place first before development occurs. If it is not, we current taxpayers will be left to pay the bill while real estate speculators walk away with huge profits from poorly planned developments.
• Darrel Dickson
My name is Darrel Dickson. I am running for re-election as one of your Enumclaw City Council members. I live in Enumclaw because I have a deep love and strong ties to this community. I was born and raised here. Now my wife, Dr. Holly Dickson, and I are raising our six beautiful children here. My ancestors settled in Enumclaw in the 1880s.
While I have served on your City Council, many great things have been accomplished. However, I look forward to what can be accomplished in the next four years. The need for experienced leadership is great.
Question No. 1
Describe your vision of how and why Enumclaw should or should not grow during the next 10 years. Specifically, what council actions and spending of public money would you support during the next four years to bring this vision to life? Be specific – visions require general budget funding. How much do you anticipate your plans would cost and how would they be financed?
• Darrel Dickson
One of the things that I love most about Enumclaw is its small town charm. I want to do everything possible to maintain it. However, time does not stand still. Families grow, youngsters get older and start their own families. Even businesses grow. Modest growth is a good thing. Both the state and federal government expect us to grow, and provide us financial incentives to meet their standards. For example, Semanski Street was recently rebuilt at little cost to the city through funds obtained through compliance with state and federal guidelines.
Zero growth therefore is really not practical. My vision of what the city should do includes projects that optimize the use of state, federal, and private funds so that the city can be renewed without change to its charm and character, and without additional taxes on Enumclaw’s residents. These include simple items as well as more robust undertakings. Many are contained in the Mayor’s Strategic Economic Plan that has been adopted the City Council. By many small steps, great things can be accomplished.
• Kimberly Lauk
I see realistic responsible growth in the coming years, but first, we need a regional solution to the transportation problems that are quickly growing.
Some developments in Enumclaw are paying money to the city as impact fees for transportation, but nothing is being done to secure the funds necessary to create access onto and off of the Plateau. The current transportation impact fees cover city streets, but will not scratch the surface of the improvements necessary to have adequate access on state Route 410, SR 164 and SR 169.
If you can’t get to Buckley in the afternoon in the years to come, and emergency vehicles are delayed in getting to emergency calls, then proper infrastructure is not in place. Until a new White River Bridge is in place and there are four lanes from 234th in Bonney Lake to Enumclaw, how can we say that it will be OK to build huge new developments in Enumclaw?
We all love Enumclaw because it is a special place, but if we are not careful, irresponsible overdevelopment will result in significant losses in quality of life, traffic gridlock, crime and social decline. We must have solutions to regional problems as part of our planning for development, not just impact fees for local roads. The direction of this current council is driven largely by a desire to meet the needs of real estate developers, not the needs of the area residents who call Enumclaw home. I will bring a fresh new voice to this debate and discussion. I will ask hard questions and demand accountability when making planning decisions and updating our Comprehensive Plan. So on the point of the question of spending public money for development, current residents should not pay the costs of development and infrastructure, developers should.
Question No. 2
Describe what you see are the responsibilities of the Enumclaw City Council as a legislative body within the form of government you will be serving. Discuss how you see the checks and balances functioning with the city’s executive branch. Also, what are the responsibilities council members owe to each other?
• Kimberly Lauk
To begin with, the responsibilities of each council member should be to the citizens who elected them first and foremost, not to other council members or the mayor. My loyalty is with the citizens. After that, working with other council members in a professional and responsible way comes second. An elected official should never go against their oath of office or duty to the citizens to please other elected officials. Next, this council is in desperate need of a proper code of conduct and ethics rules. The council has been warned for over a year and a half that this should have been done a long time ago. Currently, the city is risking a fine of $15,000 from their own insurance carrier and possible lawsuits by failing to enact a written code of ethics specific to land use decisions. This would govern city council members in relation to conflict of interest in land use proposals and potential conflicts that current council members have in their own businesses and land deals. This is simple. There are many well established patterns that other cities have enacted and all we have to do is propose and pass one of them, but this council continues to duck this issue. Why? What are they worried about? Month after month they are warned and still fail to act. Now a state investigation has been called for and still, no action is taken. I will sponsor and pass this much needed and long overdue legislation for the city of Enumclaw so citizens can begin to trust their elected officials again. Finally, the executive branch is a separate branch of government, as is the judiciary. It is the job of the council to question and challenge the other branches of government and keep them in check and to comply with the constitution.
• Darrel Dickson
Enumclaw’s mayor/council form of government is one of the most popular forms of government in cities across the United States. The mayor constitutes the executive branch of government and the city council is the legislative branch, similar to state and federal governments. The mayor, like her president and governor counterparts, is responsible for the day to day functioning of the government, the safety and welfare of the citizens. The City Council, like the legislatures of state and federal governments, work with input from the executive branch and the citizens to form the policies and procedures that will make Enumclaw the best possible place for you and your family to live, today and in the future.
The responsibility of each council member is to investigate all possible solutions to issues we face. Such investigations should not be seen as checks and balances on the mayor, but simply as additional points of view to those of the administration. For example, I was able to ask some questions that resulted in Enumclaw getting back for its utility customers $300,000 beyond what the administration had originally proposed. Enumclaw must not settle for a City Council that is simply a rubber stamp for the requests of the administration. Council persons must constantly seek alternative solutions and provide helpful feedback.
What do we owe each other? Council persons owe each other honor and respect, even when they do not agree. It must be a genuine respect so that each wants to hear the other’s point of view. It’s my good fortune to report that the current Enumclaw City Council operates in that fashion. We respect each other’s opinions. We value everyone’s input. Council members’ genuinely love their city. They leave their egos at the door in selfless service to our community.