Mayor Joan’s Op-Ed Appears In Seattle P-I

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Joan McGilton, the Mayor of Burien, recently wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Seattle P-I, defending Washington’s congressional delegation and how it’s helped B-Town.

Since a lot of our readers have eschewed traditional media for online media, you may not have seen it.

So, as a favor to all BTB readers, here is Mayor Joan’s piece in its entirety, as it appeared in today’s edition:

Recent criticisms of earmarks that the Washington congressional delegation has secured are more than unfortunate — they are unfair. They mask the many positive results that our members of Congress deliver for us. Their efforts in the other Washington help communities throughout our state address many needs of our residents and businesses.

In our case, the city of Burien — with just 31,410 people — is working hard to recover from the loss of taxes caused by Sea-Tac Airport’s new third runway. Since airports are required to buy homes in runway flight paths because of noise and safety concerns, this removes properties from the tax rolls.

Additionally, our city — along with every other local jurisdiction in this state — suffers the effects of tax-cutting initiatives. With less money coming in, cities have less to spend on critical responsibilities such as public safety, streets, economic development, parks and environmental protection.

While our congressional delegation cannot secure funding for the hundreds of requests received, members always carefully weigh the merits of each and try to advance the most worthy ones. Fortunately for Burien and other communities, our delegation often succeeds in helping us, and we sincerely appreciate that.

Thanks to a few modest earmarks secured by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and the rest of our delegation, Burien obtained funding for critical infrastructure for our Town Square project. In turn, that helped attract more than $100 million in private investment.

Without that help our bold vision of new downtown shops, housing, City Hall, regional library and a wonderful new park, and the hundreds of jobs associated with Burien’s “extreme makeover” would still be just a dream.

Other vital projects progressing thanks to congressional assistance include a new Metro transit center and a future transit-oriented development project in downtown Burien, plus improvements to the hazardous state Route 518/509 interchange in Burien and the widening of eastbound state Route 518 near the airport.

Furthermore, federal funding to save salmon has come to Puget Sound only because our delegation secures it every year, as this is never included in the current administration’s budget. Congressional assistance enabled Burien and our regional, state and federal partners to improve a portion of our city’s shoreline for salmon habitat, and we hope to restore our whole shoreline soon.

By getting projects ready to go, we have been able to work with our delegation to get the federal government to pitch in a bit. While we expect to continue to need their help, especially with our effort to revitalize the area next to the airport, eventually these investments will help us build up our local revenues and rely less on federal assistance.

We cannot imagine our city’s future had we not received the congressional assistance that led to our downtown redevelopment. If executive branch officials in D.C. were the only ones to decide how to spend federal funds, our lovely city — along with many others — would probably not see a dime of our residents’ taxes returned to help the community.

Joan McGilton is mayor of Burien.


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