B-TOWN BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with City Council Pos. #1 Candidates


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On July 6, 2017, we emailed out a list of 11 Questions to all candidates running for Burien City Council in the Primary election, which has an Aug. 1 voting deadline.

Over the next several days we’ll be posting responses from those candidates who answered our inquiry, grouped by position numbers.

All five candidates vying for Position #1 responded, and here are their answers – published exactly as they sent them – and listed in alphabetical order using their photos from the King County Elections website:

JOEL MANNING

1. How long have you had full-time residence in the city of Burien?
I have been a resident of Burien for over 16 years.

2. Why are you interested in representing the citizens and what do you expect to gain from serving in a Council position?

I wish to represent the residents of Burien in order to effect a return to common sense leadership within our city government and with this renewed leadership again make our city a safe and welcoming place for all. Other than the aforementioned safe and welcoming city, I don’t expect to gain anything for myself as a result of being elected to the city council.

3. What city ordinances would you want changed or removed from the books and why?
652/531. When our retail spaces are full and the municipal lot is full of cars for at least one day we can then worry about mitigating the cost of new parking space development. Until then we should focus on filling our empty commercial spaces.

4. What changes or additions to city government staff would you support and how would you pay for these changes?

I would look to the new city manager as the city manager manages the city staff. Without his recommendations or access to performance reviews or any other information required to evaluate his recommendations, it would be premature to make statements regarding changes to city government staff.

5. Would your regular private employer control or require how you vote on city matters in a specific way, regardless of your personal observations and understanding of the facts?
My private employer, nor or any other person or group, will have control over my actions or my votes as council member. I will be guided by my own compass and my own observations and understanding of the facts.

6. Do you believe homelessness is a problem that Burien can alleviate or reduce, and how should the city handle the problems of homelessness?
I believe all efforts and services intended to aid individuals experiencing homelessness should be provided by the private sector. This is not an appropriate role for our city government.

7. Is Burien’s police force doing a good job handling criminal activity and would you vote tax increases to add police, or what would you cut to hire more police?
I believe they are doing a fantastic job with the resources they have and the direction they have been given. I would first seek to increase sales tax revenue through business development. If the need is urgent and cuts are needed to fund police now, I would cut the human service budget first as this is not an appropriate function for our city government. If after the cuts we were still short on funds, then I would consider a tax increase.

8. Do you favor or oppose the city’s sanctuary ordinance?
Oppose. It is nothing more than political theatre as it makes no substantive positive change. It does however provide a false sense of security to some and may put potential federal law enforcement grants at risk.

9. Do you support the city of Burien using tax dollars to pay for legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration because it has ordered some smaller planes to turn over Burien, creating added noise and pollution?
First the council needs to be more transparent with the details regarding this current dispute with the FAA but yes, we are neighbors with the airport indefinitely and if we allow the FAA to violate the law and change flight paths without the proper environmental studies or without any pushback from us, it will surely happen again.

10. Do you support CARES for animal control, or would you prefer to have the Regional Animal Services of King County operate this service?
I strongly believe in communities providing their own solutions and services at the local level as much as possible and feasible. As long as CARES is operating in compliance per their contract with the city I support them.

11. Do you understand that Washington state law provides that a Councilmember can’t give any direct “orders to any subordinate of the city manager, either publicly or privately,” but expect the manager to follow Council mandated policy?
Yes I understand this.

PEDRO E. OLGUIN

1. How long have you had full-time residence in the city of Burien?
I initially moved to Burien in the Fall of 2009, then moved Seattle and Auburn, before deciding to move back to Burien in September of 2016.

2. Why are you interested in representing the citizens and what do you expect to gain from serving in a Council position?
I’m interested in fostering an inclusive community capable of addressing the needs of its residents while leaving a legacy of better Burien for the next generation, including my 2 children growing up in Burien.

3. What city ordinances would you want changed or removed from the books and why?
Our community needs to develop and implement public policy that addresses our biggest issues which include homelessness, public safety, airport expansion and flight pattern changes, and growth. We need to make sure Burien can be a safe, clean, and prosperous community that both respects its roots while understanding it has grown and needs to address the concerns brought with that development.

4. What changes or additions to city government staff would you support and how would you pay for these changes?
We currently invest about 1% of our city budget on health and human services, meaning just over $300,000 per year. If we are to try to mitigate one of our biggest concerns, homelessness, here in Burien, we should earmark some of those funds to hire a full-time health and human services staff person who would help coordinate homelessness mitigation, seek other available funding, and leverage resources with other municipalities to address homelessness. We could potential address a major issue while staying cost neutral.

5. Would your regular private employer control or require how you vote on city matters in a specific way, regardless of your personal observations and understanding of the facts?
Each city council member is elected by the citizens of Burien, our only employer we should listen to in developing public policy are those citizens, irrespective if we received their vote or not. We are accountable to voters, not our employers. My unequivocal commitment is to Burien residents.

6. Do you believe homelessness is a problem that Burien can alleviate or reduce, and how should the city handle the problems of homelessness?
I personally cannot imagine a single person that would say homelessness is good for Burien, but programmatically we have much to improve. Relying on an enforcement-only approach to address a symptom of poverty only criminalizes and isolates a portion of our community that may need help. And while collaboratively working to address homelessness, we also need to strike a balance with public safety to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment of our public spaces.

7. Is Burien’s police force doing a good job handling criminal activity and would you vote tax increases to add police, or what would you cut to hire more police?
In my professional capacity, I have advocated for law enforcement and correctional officers and while I will continue to advocate for public safety and the professionals who serve our community, we are already investing half of our budget in policing. We need to expand other services to help mitigate public safety concerns. Taxation is a sensitive issue which disproportionally affects community members on fix incomes. We need a fair taxation policy to help provide the necessary resources to provide for basic needs including public safety.

8. Do you favor or oppose the city’s sanctuary ordinance?
I believe our city needs cost-neutral policies that protect the integrity of our community and fear free from persecution. Our cash-strapped city should not have to enforce unfunded federal mandates. If you believe the work of local law enforcement is to enforce local laws and not an arm of the Trump administration, then please vote for me.

9. Do you support the city of Burien using tax dollars to pay for legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration because it has ordered some smaller planes to turn over Burien, creating added noise and pollution?
It’s important to strike a balance between development and community needs, but there’s a time when we have to hold the line on community rights. Burien should not be a victim to port expansion in the form of noise or pollution. We need to join other south King County communities to discuss the issue of the airport as it operates independently and ample resources to fight our city on the legal fight. We should look at all options to help mitigate our issues with the Port.

10. Do you support CARES for animal control, or would you prefer to have the Regional Animal Services of King County operate this service?
While I am not a pet owner, I fully support CARES. We should look at leveraging resources for this great community organization.

11. Do you understand that Washington state law provides that a Councilmember can’t give any direct “orders to any subordinate of the city manager, either publicly or privately,” but expect the manager to follow Council mandated policy?
City staff is directly accountable to the City Manager and staff should not be micromanaging the daily work or operations of staff. Our role is to provide leadership, guidance and direction as to the intent of public policy, but not to micromanage staff.

ROBERT L. RICHMOND III

1. How long have you had full-time residence in the city of Burien?
I have loved living in Burien for the past 16 years

2. Why are you interested in representing the citizens and what do you expect to gain from serving in a Council position?
I firmly believe that we as a City can solve the big issues we face. I expect to leave my time in office a better city than when we started. Turning Burien into a power Utility is a major goal of mine.

3. What city ordinances would you want changed or removed from the books and why?
I would want to look at any and all housing ordinances for sure! We have eager developers who want to put money into our city. I believe we can speed up the permit process so we can get this done. I think the council lacks someone who has a real estate background. Like I have.

4. What changes or additions to city government staff would you support and how would you pay for these changes?
I would have to look into this question further before I can fully answer it. But my big ideas do require the full focus of the city council!

5. Would your regular private employer control or require how you vote on city matters in a specific way, regardless of your personal observations and understanding of the facts?
No

6. Do you believe homelessness is a problem that Burien can alleviate or reduce, and how should the city handle the problems of homelessness?
Yes and Yes, This is a central component to my platform. I firmly believe that working with Non Profits such as the William Booth Center as a model is a good start! So YES! I have written about this in my letter to the editor in the BTown blog as well.

7. Is Burien’s police force doing a good job handling criminal activity and would you vote tax increases to add police, or what would you cut to hire more police?
From what I can tell as a citizen yes they are doing a good job! My plans would never call for cutting anything. We will live within our means. As a fiscally conservative Democrat. I believe that we can have it all, BUT, it must be paid for.

8. Do you favor or oppose the city’s sanctuary ordinance?
I favor it.

9. Do you support the city of Burien using tax dollars to pay for legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration because it has ordered some smaller planes to turn over Burien, creating added noise and pollution?
No, i believe with proper relationships formed we can get our point accross to the FAA to change what we need to change.

10. Do you support CARES for animal control, or would you prefer to have the Regional Animal Services of King County operate this service?
As trusted stewards of public money. I will look at each and every program that the city has. And if it’s running a balanced budget and taking care of the needs of the city then yes I do.

11. Do you understand that Washington state law provides that a Councilmember can’t give any direct “orders to any subordinate of the city manager, either publicly or privately,” but expect the manager to follow Council mandated policy?
Yes, the City Manager reports to the City Council. And serves at its policy advocate.

CHARLES SCHAEFER

1. How long have you had full-time residence in the city of Burien?
28 years. I am a lifetime resident of Burien.

2. Why are you interested in representing the citizens and what do you expect to gain from serving in a Council position?
I think I can bring a unique perspective to council deliberations as I have tried to do through my public comment. I don’t expect any personal gain from serving on the council other than to increase the quality of life for myself and other residents of Burien. I really appreciate that our council is full of working people and that this is not a career political office like, for example, our neighboring city Seattle.

3. What city ordinances would you want changed or removed from the books and why?
Well, to start with, I support Austin Bell’s proposal to remove the “owner occupancy” requirement on accessory dwelling units. I would be a vote in support of bringing that back for consideration again. I’d also look at other regulations which are artificially decreasing the supply of housing and contributing to the homelessness epidemic.

I would also look at anything we could do to reduce the permitting process for someone starting up a business. I think this places a disproportionate effect on our small business owners. Small business are the heart of our city and I want to see more of them, as they are often unique and will attract people to Burien.

4. What changes or additions to city government staff would you support and how would you pay for these changes?
I don’t have any specific changes in mind. In general, my philosophy in terms of hiring is that it is a better investment for the city to spend more money to hire quality staff for each position than to spend less on each position in order to fill more positions.

5. Would your regular private employer control or require how you vote on city matters in a specific way, regardless of your personal observations and understanding of the facts?
As a self-employed accountant, I am not subject to being influenced in that way. If any of my clients are involved in business with the city, I will disclose that fact and recuse myself from the matter under consideration. I am a strong advocate of transparency in government and I would provide my reasoning for every decision I make while on the council.

6. Do you believe homelessness is a problem that Burien can alleviate or reduce, and how should the city handle the problems of homelessness?
I believe private charitable organizations like Transform Burien, with which I volunteer every Friday, have a much better track record addressing this issue than local government. As I mentioned, I do believe that excessive zoning regulations as well as regressive property taxes contribute to the homelessness epidemic and I would work to reduce those burdens.

7. Is Burien’s police force doing a good job handling criminal activity and would you vote tax increases to add police, or what would you cut to hire more police?
Burien’s police force is doing a great job with their existing resources. I do not believe raising taxes or cutting other services is necessary to address public safety. I have proposed a plan to voluntarily fund public safety improvements that consists of two parts:

  1. When citizens receive a property tax bill, they would be given the option to voluntarily contribute an additional amount for more police. I would contribute to this and from talking with other voters, I believe a large number of Burien residents would as well.
  2. Establishing a non-profit organization within Burien for the tax-exempt purpose of promoting public safety.

Contributions to both of those would be deductible from an individual’s federal income tax.

I also would look at our current enforcement priorities and place more emphasis on violent crimes and serious property crimes over nuisances.

8. Do you favor or oppose the city’s sanctuary ordinance?
I favor the ordinance because it provides added assurance to Burien residents that the city will not inquire about immigration status, although it makes little substantive difference from the policy of the Sheriff’s Office that was in place before the passage of the ordinance, and continues to be in effect.

9. Do you support the city of Burien using tax dollars to pay for legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration because it has ordered some smaller planes to turn over Burien, creating added noise and pollution?
In general I am supportive of that, however it’s important to me that we weigh the costs and benefits of any legal action and I would give some deference to the experience of our city attorney in deciding our legal strategy.

10. Do you support CARES for animal control, or would you prefer to have the Regional Animal Services of King County operate this service?
Everything I have seen leads me to believe CARES is the financially responsible, locally accountable, and citizen-preferred option and I’m happy to support continuing the contract with them for animal control.

11. Do you understand that Washington state law provides that a Councilmember can’t give any direct “orders to any subordinate of the city manager, either publicly or privately,” but expect the manager to follow Council mandated policy?
I actually had not seen that before. I will have to do further research. It certainly makes sense.

GARY WOOD

1. How long have you had full-time residence in the city of Burien?
I’ve lived in Burien over 3 years since Mika and I purchased our home in July 2014 and lived within Seattle metropolitan area since March 2000.

2. Why are you interested in representing the citizens and what do you expect to gain from serving in a Council position?
I’ve found Burien to be a very special and close knit evolving community that I love like all of you.  I have lived in other Seattle neighborhoods that had increasing population growth which has displaced lower income residents, created urban sprawl, lined residential streets with cars, attracted more crime and increased drug usage and homelessness.

I just could not sit back any longer and watch this happen yet again to Burien.  Watching vying political and union aligned Councilmembers polarizing Burien’s City Council and its future.  It’s time we start choosing councilmembers that are leaders; qualified and can represent all residents of Burien not beholding to allegiances, political parties & union organizations.

Therefore, I decided to enter the race for Burien’s City Council; being a true non-partisan independent choice that speaks for all Burien residents.

3. What city ordinances would you want changed or removed from the books and why?
None at present.  But, I reserve the right when I’m on the City Council to change my mind as I learn more about how they affect our residents.

4. What changes or additions to city government staff would you support and how would you pay for these changes?
The Burien Economic Development Strategy (http://www.burienwa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4902) emphasized a scope of vision including increasing “Quality of Life” within Burien, not solely economic development.   Therefore, I would propose that scope of the economic development staff be increased to include all forms of reducing pollution (including noise and air pollution from Sea-Tac Airport) and decreasing the human the damage (i.e. homelessness) in Burien.

To this goal, the revenues from the Business and Occupation (“B&O”) tax should be targeted to fund these objectives that will then improve the business environment in Burien.  The office should also act as an incubator for creating non-profits by seeking funds from Federal, State, County and private sources that can help expand the services in Burien supporting these objectives.

 5. Would your regular private employer control or require how you vote on city matters in a specific way, regardless of your personal observations and understanding of the facts?
I work for Microsoft and in no way, does Microsoft take a role in my campaign for elected office, financially or directing my opinions or objectives.   I’m completely independent of any allegiances, coalitions between candidates, political parties, benefactors, or labor union.   

6. Do you believe homelessness is a problem that Burien can alleviate or reduce, and how should the city handle the problems of homelessness?
I’ve thought about homelessness for years as if I were to lose my job, I’d be homeless.  I have seen the rise of the homeless in the Seattle Ballard neighborhood since the 2008 economic crash.  The pace of homelessness continues to grow and accelerate as increasing costs of home ownership and renting has left low incoming residents being pushed unto the streets.

I do not advocate creating services, such as safe injection sites and homeless camps that create an eco-System within Burien that is an enabler of homelessness and drug addiction as a permanent lifestyle.   I’m an advocate of the city influencing the private sector to hire the homeless or start businesses, such as a restaurant that is staffed by the homeless to train them to help themselves.   I support hiring day labors to work for the Parks and Recreation Department to make Burien beautiful while providing jobs to low income and homeless that want to work.

I would advocate providing tax credits to local businesses that support policies helping the homeless, at risk children & drug addicted and providing contract incentives to businesses that do business with Burien that help these policies to help the homeless get jobs.

7. Is Burien’s police force doing a good job handling criminal activity and would you vote tax increases to add police, or what would you cut to hire more police?
I have the utmost admiration and respect for the Burien police officers. They put their lives on the line every day so that our community can be safe from crime and dangerous criminals.  Burien’s police force has a difficult job that deserves 100% of the city’s support and we should not stand in their way of them enforcing the law.

One concern is increasing cost of public safety as a percentage of the budget and the fact a large portion that expense is leaving the local Burien economy.  The annual King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) contract cost more than $28 million and continues increasing in double digits yearly and consume over one third of the yearly Burien budget.

The city should investigate so we know at what cost does a local police force become a more cost-effective solution that brings us local control, increases numbers of officers and the money spent stays in the local economy.

8. Do you favor or oppose the city’s sanctuary ordinance?
I would have not had proposed or voted affirmative for Ordinance 651, “The Sanctuary City Ordinance” because the ordinance is a non-sequitur that doesn’t change existing city and KCSO policies and causes polarization between neighbors. That said, I would leave it in place as it emphasizes the city staff are required to be respectful and not harass or discriminate against any individuals regardless of a person’s race, religion, nationality, or immigration status.

9. Do you support the city of Burien using tax dollars to pay for legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration because it has ordered some smaller planes to turn over Burien, creating added noise and pollution?
The city of Burien should be a strong supporter of increasing the Quality of Life of every Burien resident.  There’s obviously environmental impact from Seattle Tacoma International Airport and I’m a strong supporter for “Quiet Skies” as they are making a difference.

There haven’t been effective communications between the city and Port of Seattle / FAA over these years before and since the runway #3 expansion.  I’ve never seen an equitable outcome out of lawsuits other than endless years of spending millions of dollars on lawyers.  Therefore, I’m not an advocate for litigating to achieve policy objectives.

I advocate the city of Burien becoming more proactive in supporting WA HB 1171 which would fund UW School of Public Health studying the ultrafine particulate matter air pollution (and amending to include noise pollution).  Or, the City should use the funds for litigating to work directly with the UW School of Public Health to create noise/air monitoring stations in affected neighborhoods and use data to proof the human harm to affect changes in airport operations.

10. Do you support CARES for animal control or would you prefer to have the Regional Animal Services of King County operate this service?
I’m a supporter of C.A.R.E.S. because I advocate a local Burien business vs. outside of Burien; non-profit vs. for profit; private business vs. government controlled. This is a no brainer, I am a C.A.R.E.S. supporter!

11. Do you understand that Washington state law provides that a Councilmember can’t give any direct “orders to any subordinate of the city manager, either publicly or privately,” but expect the manager to follow Council mandated policy?
I’ve never ordered a co-worker, friend, acquaintance to do anything. Although I do make food and beverage orders. Sarcasm aside, I have learned honesty in management; treating people with respect and committing yourself to helping people; not hurting people or pushing them around has been more effective for me.  As a Councilmember, I want to lead through policy and help the city manager create an effective and successful organization; and when the day comes that I need help, they will be there for me.

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Comments

2 Responses to “B-TOWN BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with City Council Pos. #1 Candidates”
  1. Seahurst resident says:

    This questionnaire is a great initiative of the B-town blog to inform the voters about position in important topics for our city. Thanks B-Town Blog!

    Rate: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  2. Chris says:

    Is the BTB going to do a candidate forum for the general election?

    Rate: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

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