B-TOWN BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with City Council Pos. #3 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.

We will be posting additional responses from candidates who answered our inquiry, grouped by position numbers.

Of the three candidates for Position #3, two responded (Austin Tucker did not), 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:

JIMMY MATTA

1. How long have you had full-time residence in the city of Burien?
In 1998, I moved from Eastern Washington to the beautiful city of Burien because I wanted a great community to raise my family in. My son was two years old when we moved here and my daughter was born shortly after that. This has been such a wonderful and welcoming place to raise a family and I want to make sure that everyone is made to feel like they are a part of this city, just as I have.

2. Why are you interested in representing the citizens and what do you expect to gain from serving in a Council position?
I am a candidate for city council because I care about the future of our city. I have studied the issues that are important to the people who live here and believe that I have the knowledge and experience to effectively represent the people of Burien. I will be fair, open minded, and transparent in my voting and in the way I represent all of the people of Burien. I believe that by bringing our community together and making sure that everyone has a voice, we can make our city a place that works for everyone.

I also want to help make our city safer. We must strive to turn it into a place where individuals from various backgrounds, cultures and who speak different languages feel safe in participating in community service and events. Burien also needs to be a city where working families and those with fixed incomes are not pushed out because of the rising housing and living costs.

I will work on building a more prosperous city where we have a robust economy that actively brings in new business and provides good living wage jobs, and an economy that gives residents more buying power and more choices for shopping locally. I will also work on building stronger connections between residents and our local police force and judicial systems, to ensure that our community is safe. Most importantly, I will work to support policies that create a community people are proud to live in.

I expect to gain a better relationship with my community by working through issues together, and to ultimately be able to call a safer and more prosperous city my home. Much has been done to make this a city we can all be proud of, but there is more hard work that lies ahead and I want to represent the citizens throughout this journey.

Let’s move Burien forward together.

3. What city ordinances would you want changed or removed from the books and why?
My top priority is to ensure that the people of Burien feel like their elected officials are listening to them and that they are being well represented. I cannot think of any current ordinances that would supersede the need for me to hear directly from the people of Burien before deciding to remove them. After I am elected, if one or several merit review or removal, then I am open to a public hearing so I can hear from the people of Burien.

4. What changes or additions to city government staff would you support and how would you pay for these changes?
I would support hiring a new staff person with extensive human service background to focus on developing and executing a clear plan to reduce homelessness in our city. As a business owner, I also want a city that encourages new business and makes it easy for them to understand rules, ordinances, and regulations. It’s our “mom and pop businesses” that give Burien its character and I know that many of those businesses could use additional assistance in navigating our regulatory systems. To that end, I would support a full or part time position that is focused on building up business in the city and providing them with the tools and training they need to be successful. I believe that both of these positions could be funded through existing revenue streams, through natural growth and by focusing on strengthening our local economy.

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?
Absolutely not. No organization or employer will dictate how I vote. I will represent the people of Burien and I think it is incredibly important that my votes reflect the will and feedback that our community members provide. I believe that one of the biggest issues facing government at all levels right now is the undue influence that private business and organizations hold. This is why I want to work toward creating a more transparent process for policy making and implementation here in Burien. I will also actively work toward engaging all members of our community and giving them a stronger voice when it comes to decision making at city 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?
Yes, homelessness is a serious problem and needs our immediate attention and action. This is a complex and multifaceted issue that will require us to collaborate with other cities, organizations, and social service agencies. It will require all of us to work together to find effective and practical solutions that don’t just address the symptoms, but actually target the causes.

The causes of homelessness include, but are not limited to: mental health, addiction, domestic abuse, crime, poverty and lack of affordable housing. It is also important to recognize that homelessness affects more than just those people we see sleeping on the street, but extends to those who are living out of their vehicles or are sleeping on the couches and floors of friends and family. These problems cannot be solved in isolation and we must work with others to develop solid policies and programs that make a significant difference in reducing the homeless population.

There are various solutions to alleviate some of the causes of homelessness. We need to look at working with local schools and organizations to develop training programs to ensure that the people who live here have the skills to get living wage jobs. I also want to see us create more affordable housing options for working families and people who are on fixed incomes. Finally, I would like to develop a strong community policing program that creates an environment where people are able to seek and receive help when they need it most.

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?
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to sit down with a few members of our police force in Burien and I was impressed by how much they truly care about our community. The amount of knowledge and dedication they exhibited really made me feel safe and proud of our police. I want everyone on our community to have that same experience and share that same feeling that I had. I believe that we can do this by focusing on developing strong community policing programs in our city.

Community policing works. The more people are engaged with their local police force and judicial systems, the better those communities are at preventing crime from happening. By developing these relationships, we create an environment where community members feel safer and our police are able to do their jobs more effectively.

I’m not convinced that we need to raise taxes or cut services in order to adequately fund our local police. Burien is growing, and by focusing on creating a strong economy we can generate more revenue for the city that can go towards hiring more police. Developing a strong community policing program will also help alleviate some of the need for additional expenditures on criminal justice. I believe that prevention is the key. It directly creates safer communities and it is cheaper in the long run.

8. Do you favor or oppose the city’s sanctuary ordinance?
I am currently in favor of Burien’s sanctuary ordinance, but I am willing to listen to those who have concerns. Our city council voted on this issue with a lot of support by our community members and I think it would be of great disservice to them to say that I oppose their decision and intend to overturn it. I think that the ordinance is a relatively small gesture that goes a long way toward creating an inclusive community by simply reinforcing preexisting jurisdictional boundaries. I also believe that it creates a safer community by providing clarity to our local police and encourages them to focus on helping the people of Burien while allowing federal agencies to do their job. Furthermore, the City of Burien currently contracts out our police services to the King County Sheriff’s Office, which has long had policies restricting deputies from holding people based off on immigration status.

However, I am willing to request a public hearing on this matter to hear from those in our community who have grave concerns about it. I believe Burien should be an inclusive community where everyone feels safe. I also believe that those who break the law should be punished for doing so.

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?
Until I know how much taxpayer money would need to be used to take up legal action against the FAA, I am unwilling to commit to neither raising taxes nor cutting services. I support organizations such as Quiet Skies and their efforts to mitigate sound reduction. I also support efforts by the city to look into informing all of our residents about the noise and health concerns surrounding our community by the airport.

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 completely support CARES for animal control services. My daughter lost her dog a couple of years ago, and it was because of this organization she was able to be reunited with her beloved dog. We love our pets and we should support organizations in our communities instead of having them sent out of the city limits. I shop local, and I will work to support all local organizations that support our community.

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 do understand that the city council members direct the city manager to carry out policies approved by the council. The city manager works FOR the city council and the City Manager can be fired by the City Council. However, the City Council has no authority to fire or direct any subordinate of the city manager. I believe the law on this is very clear.

DEBI WAGNER

1. How long have you had full-time residence in the city of Burien?
My husband and I have owned a home in Burien for 20 years. Prior to 1997 I had been a long-term resident of south King County.

2. Why are you interested in representing the citizens and what do you expect to gain from serving in a Council position?
I initially ran in 2013 because after sending letters and making numerous calls to council members for two years I never received a response. With 20 years of customer service experience I believe the concerns of the public we serve should be heard, valued and deserve a response. This is why I have voted twice to restore citizen letters into our packet. I don’t expect to gain money, fame or moving up politically. I would simply like to gain the satisfaction of doing a good job that benefits the whole community.

3. What city ordinances would you want changed or removed from the books and why? 
None. It is not the job of the council to constantly look for ordinances to change or remove. Ordinances are developed to create laws to support the mandated city master plans, promote public safety and welfare, and carry out county, state and federal required mandates. The city manager and his staff generally develop ordinances and help the council understand why they are neecessary.

4. What changes or additions to city government staff would you support and how would you pay for these changes?
City staff numbers for our cities’ size are below average. Road maintenance is below minimum, policing, parks, storm water, etc., all below needs. At the same time, staff does an amazing job and each department goes above and beyond in meeting expectations doing more with less than other cities our size. Before increasing staff, we must increase revenue. Besides economic development which takes time, we need to find creative ways to derive revenue that does not involve raising taxes on citizens, many who are also struggling. Council members are not in charge of increasing or decreasing staff, this responsibility falls on the city manager.

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?
Burien has homeless people just like every other city in south King County.

Fortunately, Burien has a lot of great community partners, some faith based, some non-profits and just plain generous community members who support, volunteer and contribute their time, resources and energy to help the homeless. Unfortunately, Burien by itself does not have resources to do much more than the contributions from the human services budget. It would be great if we could meet every need. But while we are doing what we can other nearby jurisdictions are able to do more. A shelter has opened in White Center, a day shelter is located in Federal Way, Seattle has transitional housing and the county has resources to do much more. Our immediate solution is to refer people to these resources and support regional efforts to provide robust long-term solutions through the process of All Home now in development.

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?
Before we add officers we should see how the additional two officers added this summer work to reduce crime. Meanwhile the Burien Police should be commended for doing a tremendous job in a high stress environment. Polls indicate a public desire for increasing the numbers of police. However, because of the high cost of adding officers and Burien’s limited resources, we should know if citizens are willing and able to fund this increase which would most likely have to be funded by increased local taxes.

8. Do you favor or oppose the city’s sanctuary ordinance? 
Messaging was important to speakers who provided testimony to the council on this ordinance when it was first considered and their main advocacy centered on community members feeling safe reporting crimes regardless of status. Since the police in Burien already adhered to this policy and have for 30 years, my suggestion was to instead initiate an information campaign to let individuals know it is safe to report crime without fear of having to provide status. Additionally, I did not approve of it when it was passed because 1) Our federal law enforcement grant might be jeopardized, 2) It does nothing to protect immigrants from federal laws and 3) Complacency might inhibit pursuing paths to legal 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 noise and emissions are a health hazard. The turboprops are jets with the fan on the outside of the engine and powered by jet fuel. Noise and residues that fall on homes as these pass over our head at low altitude is very dangerous. There is no buffer between these operations and the homes under the start of the low loud climb unlike that of the historical flight paths. I’m a former flight path resident and know the frustration and feeling of helplessness people have who moved in thinking they could handle the noise and finding out it is unbearable. The Q400 has a noise profile equal to a 737. It is turbo’s today and jets tomorrow. Once the path is established there is no stopping constant onslaught. Legal action is the only option provided to challenge FAA decisions like this. We won the first round because FAA’s own rules don’t allow establishing new procedures below 3,000 feet without thorough environmental impact analysis. And I believe we will win in the future because they have to prove no impact which is impossible. Flight paths have tremendous impact on the people who live below the constant roar of overhead planes. The cost of the legal action is a set fee and we are very fortunate as a city to have the expertise of Denton’s Law at a fraction of the real cost and the expertise of the Quiet Skies Coalition at no cost. As a member of Quiet Skies Coalition, I support their work.

10. Do you support CARES for animal control, or would you prefer to have the Regional Animal Services of King County operate this service?
CARES has greatly improved the quality of services they offer over time. They have also recently added additional low cost services. I believe the community supports having CARES because it is local, responsive and doing a great job for our pets. Although RASKC offers more services it is also more costly even at the reduced consortium cost. I support local businesses but that business must meet specific standards to be a city contractor.

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.

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Comments

6 Responses to “B-TOWN BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with City Council Pos. #3 Candidates”
  1. Dan O'Shea says:

    Here is one I would like to ask of all the candidates. Did you vote for Donald Trump? I think it would say enough about them for me. I am an independent who mostly votes on the conservative side but I will never trust a candidate who voted for the President we have now. This current President has been married 3 times and has 5 kids by 3 different woman. He had 5 defererments for the draft but ran on a strong military. He is thin skinned, tweets and spells like a child along with being a liar on record. His business acumen is questioned by his many, many bankruptcies.

    So I would ask all of the candidates. Did you vote for President Trump?

    Rate: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 33

    • Seahurst resident says:

      Irrelevant question, because these are local government candidates that challenge a different set of challenges than at federal level.

      Besides, the returns on his economic policies (more jobs and a higher stock market) are very good for the citizens of Burien. So, actually not having for him might actually look bad on the candidate.

      Rate: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 12

    • Nancy Charpentier says:

      Public service does not remove the right to privacy at the ballot box. That skips over the slippery slope stage and becomes a sheer drop to practices that undercut a democracy. Beware the blindness of anger – you can become what you most despise.

      Rate: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  2. MichaelJ says:

    Re: Her statements on the Sanctuary Ordinance: “1) Our federal law enforcement grant might be jeopardized, 2) It does nothing to protect immigrants from federal laws and 3) Complacency might inhibit pursuing paths to legal status.”

    Had she done her homework, she would have known that the Feds cannot withdraw already approved grants for anything that is outside of the subject of those grants. The Courts would quickly nix any attempt to do so.

    For example, the Feds could have legitimately made good on their threat to cut highway transporation money in response to states refusal to implement the 55 mph speed limit at the time. In the current case, in the Seattle area, that only applies to the Federal Detention center in Federal Way. They would be cutting their nose to spite their face. This was a hollow threat, and has proved to be so.

    Persuit of paths to legal status is more on the side of too few resources to provide those paths, rather than “complacency.” Many wait a decade or more to actually get a decsion, or not.

    This was never a matter of “protection” from Federal Law, but a matter of not using local juridictions already limited resources that are better applied to far more serious crimes in lieu of Federal resources. When the Feds provide the money for that, they might actually have something to threaten to cut…Then again, it would still be cutting their noses.

    The followup question is, knowing what she knows now, does she still have the same unvalidated fears? If so, what verifable facts does she have to support them?

    Rate: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 18

    • Question Authority says:

      She voted against a petty, politicized, grandstanding flavor of the moment topic for all the right reasons. I believe that’s called individualism and right of opinion which she has shown.

      Rate: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

      • michaelJ says:

        That’s not a reason, that is a deflection. Knowing what she knows now, would she still vote the same way? Ignorant opinions are not equal to informed ones.

        Rate: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3