This is Part 1 of a three-part in-paper Enumclaw mayoral debate between Jan Molinaro and Kim Lauk. Both are first time candidates for mayor. The incumbent, Mayor Liz Reynolds, chose not to seek a third term. Lauk and Molinaro are current members of the City Council.
QUESTION NO 1.
Give an overview of your qualifications to be the mayor of Enumclaw and why you are the best candidate to lead the executive branch for the next four years.
Kim Lauk: I felt compelled to enter the race for mayor of Enumclaw because I want my home town, the place where my husband and I are raising our children, to continue to be a safe and vibrant place for families and businesses to thrive. Since being elected to the council in 2015, I have advocated returning staffing to pre-recession levels to optimize city productivity and better serve our citizens in areas such as parks, public safety and city planning. During the past two years I have also reached out and encouraged our city to confront run-away development and traffic. This was a key factor in successfully lobbying for the allocation of $300,000 of state money to obtain the needed corridor study so that we can finally start moving forward on fixing state Route 410 and the White River Bridge. The ability to make tough choices and push forward with innovative solutions while challenging proposals that shift the cost of new development to current taxpayers are issues I will continue to tackle.
Jan Molinaro: Over 35 years of operations management experience in three different industries provides me with a well rounded skill set and point of view in dealing with unique situations that could arise in city government. While obtaining my master’s degree several courses prepared me to be a critical thinker and obtain all of the information in order to make informed decisions. Using this approach has served me quite well during my career. On many occasions I have worked with people of varying opinions and experiences and have been able to guide them as a team to get the job done. I also have experience in hiring and managing staff as well as consulting with clients to improve their operations and bottom line.
QUESTION NO 2.
Many of the cities surrounding Enumclaw are experiencing large residential developments. How should the city of Enumclaw view residential development over the next four years? Specifically how should a city encourage or discourage development with consideration given to the Growth Management Act?
Jan Molinaro: With the state’s Growth Management Act as our guide, the city’s Comprehensive Plan is our community’s road map for the next 10 years. This was passed by the City Council in 2016.
Enumclaw has existing land within our city limits which has been approved over the last few years for future development. This will add to our tax base for schools, city revenue, bond payment obligations, as well as additional shoppers for our local businesses.
City government should be judicious when determining regulations and other burdens so as not to hinder our future business growth, but still consult with the community on issues that are important to them.
Kim Lauk: As our national economy recovered from the last recession, we have seen a boom in development and housing in Washington state. While some growth is inevitable, we must not grow at a rate that our infrastructure cannot keep up with. Growing too quickly will destroy our roadways and cripple our local economy with burdensome traffic and increased crime. Enumclaw is ahead of the minimum requirements to meet growth targets set forth by the Growth Management Act (GMA) and has no reason for any new annexations. We are however, facing serious traffic congestion due to regional growth that threatens resident’s quality of life and access to local businesses. I am proud to say that I voted to increase impact fees on new development in conjunction with voting yes on the addition of new fire and school impact fees for new development, but this is just the start to make sure we have smart, planned growth where infrastructure comes first. In March 2016, I was the only City Council member to vote “no” on an ordinance that allowed a developer whose permit had run out, an emergency extension for the sole purpose of allowing the developer a loop hole so that they would not have to re-apply and update plans to current standards. It is concerning to me that my opponent can put the financial wants of a developer above the transportation and safety needs of citizens.
QUESTION NO 3.
Tourism has been raised as a way to increase revenue for the city. Is tourism in Enumclaw a viable issue for the administration to pursue? Explain why or why not. Estimate the cost for the administration to pursue this issue and the potential revenue.
Kim Lauk: As I have stated during council meetings, I am not in favor of using taxpayer money to chase after tourism. Although it might benefit a small group, it provides very little value to 99 percent of our local taxpaying citizens, and in fact, it increases our traffic congestion and police and fire calls. Chasing tourism is not the role of the city, or proper use of taxpayer dollars. What the city can and should be doing is to execute our already established downtown revitalization plan that is outlined in our comprehensive plan. That is a benefit to everyone who lives and works here. My focus is on the wants and needs of the people who call this town home and not the people who spent 20-60 minutes here on their way through. If we put our energy and resources into revitalizing our downtown in a way that accommodates our residents and makes their town a better more vibrant place to live, work, shop, and play, and it happens to bring in a little extra from those passing through, than we have done it right. But chasing tourism at the expense of the local taxpayers is not a sound investment of your tax dollars. If we build a strong community and local business core, then our businesses will thrive. We should all support them and shop local anyway. I know that my family and I do!
Jan Molinaro: City government should encourage local entities that have the expertise to increase tourism in our community. By providing seed money, in addition to partnering with these organizations, some new ideas could get off to a solid start and then step aside to allow these groups do what they know best. In the same manner as city government and I support our seniors and youth, some assistance is needed in attracting more tourists to spend time and money here in Enumclaw while enjoying our city and surrounding beauty. Indirectly this could be returned to the city in the form of sales tax revenue from these same tourists who visit.
It is difficult to determine the cost and potential revenue to the city, without knowing what and how the proposed tourist activity would be implemented.