Finalists For Kathy Keene’s City Council Position Answer Our Questions


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by Ralph Nichols

The five finalists for Burien City Council Position 6, which will be vacated by Kathy Keene effective Dec. 31, will be interviewed by the current council beginning at 7pm this evening (Monday, Nov. 15).

Interviews will be conducted during a special public meeting in the third floor conference room on the City Hall level of the Burien Library/City Hall building.

In anticipation of their formal interviews, The B-Town Blog interviewed these hopefuls for this position. They were asked:

  1. Why should the council appoint you to fill this vacancy?
  2. If you are appointed to complete Councilwoman Keene’s term, which expires at the end of next year, will you seek election to a full term?
  3. What do you consider to be the primary need or issue facing Burien at this time?
  4. Do you support annexation by Burien of what remains of the North Highline unincorporated area?
  5. Make a summary statement.

Their answers appear in alphabetical order:

Duane Douglas Camerota, Owner of Duane’s Garden Patch and past owner of Cugina’s Produce:

Why should the council appoint you to fill this vacancy?

My business is in the newly annexed North Burien area. The council needs opinions and knowledge of small business operators, especially ones in the North Burien area. My business and my house are next to each other here. I am well know and well liked. My family has been in this area since the 1930s when they farmed in the Sunnydale area. I have lots of knowledge of the Highline area. I’m not a lawyer but I do bring a high degree of common sense and the ability to get things done. The council needs a blue-collar, seven-day-a-week worker.

If you are appointed to complete Councilwoman Keene’s term, which expires at the end of next year, will you seek election to a full term?

You bet I will – if I feel like I’m accomplishing what I hope to.

What do you consider to be the primary need or issue facing Burien at this time?

We need to be economically stable. My business is in a very culturally diverse area and I carry Hispanic items, Asian items, Polynesian items. I bring diversity to the table and diversity’s a big think right now, in the community and in business. I took a corner that had been a tattoo parlor and a motorcycle shop and made it successful in this community. I understand small business [in Burien].

Do you support annexation by Burien of what remains of the North Highline unincorporated area?

I think that economically for Burien it would be good. I’m for it. I think it’s something that should be done. White Center is a prime example. I see lots of small businesses like mine up there. It’s a culturally driven area and I have some knowledge of that area because I’ve grown [the same way] through a lot of trial and error on my corner.

Make a summary statement.

I was inspired by a couple of family members (including Southwest Suburban Sewer District Commissioner Tony Genzale) to apply for this position. I want to give back to the community what the community has given to me – I help a lot of local churches and schools in this area. I’m just a blue-collar worker who wants to make sure everyone gets a fair shake. I’m excited about this position. I really am.

Gregory Duff, Burien Planning Commission member, past president of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, concrete mixer truck driver:

Why should the council appoint you to fill this vacancy?

I’m the average man. I’m a truck driver. I’ve always been interested in local politics, so this is not just some fluke that this comes up and I apply for it. I have experience working on the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and serving as president while dealing with three major issues: annexation, saving Puget Sound Park, and saving the Evergreen Pool. I’m now involved in Burien. I’m a Planning Commission member, a recent graduate of the Citizens Police Academy and a Block Watch captain.

If you are appointed to complete Councilwoman Keene’s term, which expires at the end of next year, will you seek election to a full term?

I will be announcing in January that I will run for this position – or another position – on the council. I think the person selected to fill this position should be willing to run for the full term. It’s an important commitment.

What do you consider to be the primary need or issue facing Burien at this time?

Attracting business to Burien is way up there. For Burien to be economically sound, it has to add businesses. I believe we have too many vacant spots. There is a whole lot of vacant store space that we need to fill, and attract some kind of industry. Let’s make Burien a great place to live and a great place to do business.

Do you support annexation by Burien of what remains of the North Highline unincorporated area?

[City Manager] Mike Martin and the Burien City Council have done a great job in annexing “south” North Highline by waiting until the right time. The city council and Mike have made the citizens of [recently annexed] North Burien feel welcome. I don’t think it’s been a financial burden to the city. It was done with a lot of forethought, and the city has a small budget surplus for next year. When Mike and the council feel the timing is right, when things are stable, then it will be time to move forward on annexing the remaining North Highline. Seattle is imposing the nuttiest taxes proposed by Mayor Greenie and the city of Burien is making it very easy for North Highline to decide. The citizens see that Burien is doing a lot of things right, and Seattle is doing a lot of things wrong.

Make a summary statement.

In order to be an effective leader you must first be a humble servant, and if appointed to the city council I will do my best to be a humble servant.

John C. Elliott, Quality systems project manager with Boeing:

Why should the council appoint you to fill this vacancy?

Because I believe I can help. I’m a dedicated person, I’m trustworthy, and I’m willing to participate. As a citizen of Burien for over 10 years I have seen the city grow and become what it is today – a thriving and expanding city that can and should continue to grow. So if you choose me you will choose to preserve the things that attracted me to Burien – the qualities of our unique community, the beaches and parks throughout Burien, and the diverse culture that has become so prominent in Burien. I would bring my professional training in leading project management and my education in business and experience working with diverse cultures and people. I would also bring my personal home town experience, which is living in Burien and knowing as a citizen the day-to-day things that go on. I’d like to assist the city to continue its growth and be better for future generations, and I feel I can do that.

If you are appointed to complete Councilwoman Keene’s term, which expires at the end of next year, will you seek election to a full term?

That’s a good question. My initial response would be that my intention is to run for the next term when it comes up.

What do you consider to be the primary need or issue facing Burien at this time?

I think the number one thing as a council that we would need to look at is business growth. We have some open spaces downtown and throughout Burien and the way the economy is today it’s tough for businesses to occupy those spaces. The council needs to help the businesses that can come into Burien and fill those empty spots that we have. It brings income to Burien and brings income to our businesses and helps stabilize things as we move forward.

Do you support annexation by Burien of what remains of the North Highline unincorporated area?

I believe so, yes. I do support that. It was good what we did with annexation originally and this would fill it out. I think it would be good for the city to expand our city limits and bring some additional population and definitely more opportunities. The council would have to look at how things are currently run because when you bring in that large a population you have to look at how are you going to do it. It’s something that can be done but how it would be worked out would need to be looked at.

Make a summary statement.

I feel that I make a good candidate for the city because of what I’ve said previously about my experience and willingness to listen to the issues, learn the facts, and work with the people – not by hearsay but by diving into things to make it successful. I’d like to be part of Burien as it grows. I appreciate the opportunity to be one of the top five candidates. It’s a privilege and I’m excited to see what the future brings.

Andrea H. Reay, Production administrator with Seattle Opera:

Why should the council appoint you to fill this vacancy?

I live in the Manhattan area of Burien and I know that the council is interested in filling the position with someone from North Burien. No one from our area [annexed in the late 1990s] has ever served on the council. I have a background in budgeting in non-profit arts management. Burien is experiencing the same economic problems as the rest of the nation. My experience is finding creative solutions to practical problems. There is less money, there are less resources, soe we have to get creative with what we have to solve problems. And I’m passionate about Burien where I’m raising my two kids. I want them to have a community they can be proud of. All of the candidates are well qualified, but no one is more passionate than I am.

If you are appointed to complete Councilwoman Keene’s term, which expires at the end of next year, will you seek election to a full term?

I think part of the reason this opportunity is so important to me is that it’s a short-term commitment. But that’s my intention right now [to run for a full term] if I believe I can balance being a full-time mom, my full-time job and the council. That’s the goal. But I can’t say for sure and be honest. I want to make it work for everybody.

What do you consider to be the primary need or issue facing Burien at this time?

I feel that we as a city are in a transition. We are going through growing pains and experiencing an identity crisis. We need to get back to the basics. When you’re in a transition period you can go up or you can go down. I feel like we’re on the cusp of greatness. There is opportunity in this transition. That’s what’s so great to me.

Do you support annexation by Burien of what remains of the North Highline unincorporated area?

I have some of the information but probably not as much as I should, so I hesitate to say “yea” or “nay.” I feel like we have a full plate right now. I will reserve judgment, but want us to focus more on the goals of the city to provide services to the people. That’s just my opinion as a private citizen.”

Make a summary statement.

I love this community. I feel committed to it through my kids and through the arts commission. It’s an amazing, diverse, creative community and I really enjoy being part of it. Leadership is about listening and serving, and I would love this opportunity to listen and serve. The community is about people and this helps make the community about people.

Gerald F. Robison, Attorney with a law practice in Burien, and president of White Center Jubilee Days:

Why should the council appoint you to fill this vacancy?

I think I’m probably the best qualified person for the position. I’m a quick study. I’ve been involved in city stuff for a long time. I’m pretty up-to-date on what’s facing the city and council.

If you are appointed to complete Councilwoman Keene’s term, which expires at the end of next year, will you seek election to a full term?

Yeah.

What do you consider to be the primary need or issue facing Burien at this time?

Probably public safety, specifically how the sheriff’s office budget cuts affect the city if at all. Also spending and budgeting in reaction to cutbacks at the county and state level. In the shifting fiscal environment, the state and county will provide less for cities. What the state does will fall back onto cities and counties and they will have to decide what to do with that.

Do you support annexation by Burien of what remains of the North Highline unincorporated area?

I do [favor annexation]. I think it’s pretty well known that I’ve been one of the leading proponents on annexing [all of North Highline]. Some think that if Burien doesn’t annex it Seattle will, and annexation by Seattle will have bad consequences for both Burien and North Highline.

Make a summary statement.

I think the city needs to have city council members that think for themselves, have the ability to review and consider what’s put before them, and act on it efficiently. I think I’m the person who can do that.

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Comments

3 Responses to “Finalists For Kathy Keene’s City Council Position Answer Our Questions”
  1. Jennifer Fichamba says:

    Thank you very much for this! I definitly know who I think they should choose…Some of the 5 canidates I believe should feel lucky they are among the 5 finalists as I am unsure how they made it to the short list. I will say it is important that the position be filed by someone from N. Highline.

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    • Coverofnight says:

      …”Some of the 5 canidates I believe should feel lucky they are among the 5 finalists as I am unsure how they made it to the short list….” Thanks, Jennifer – that made me laugh ’cause it’s so true! Though it’s possible that the person I think is the most sincere and will put his heart into it (Camerota) might be one that you question being on the short list…..;)

      That’s OK, I still got a laugh over your comment.

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  2. Burienite says:

    Amen to that sister!

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