Each candidate running for the Burien City Council Nov. 7, 2023 General Election was asked ten questions by The B-Town Blog (read previous Q&As here), covering topics like their reasons for wanting to serve on the council, what they think about current issues in the city, and what kind of solutions they have.
The following responses to our questionnaire in our series is from Position No. 2 candidate, incumbent Cydney Moore (read her opponent Linda Akey’s answers here).
Ballots will be mailed out on Oct. 18, and are due by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cydney Moore once worked as a freelance writer for The B-Town Blog, posting about pets up for adoption at Burien CARES. Once she announced her candidacy in 2019, she no longer wrote for us.
NOTE: Photos, links and the order of how candidates are presented are identical to the King County Elections website.
1. Why are you running for city council? Please explain what inspired you to run and why you are qualified.
“I am running for re-election to Burien City Council because we have accomplished so much, but I believe there is much more work to be done to improve the quality of life for all those who live, work, and do business in our city. We have a housing and homelessness crisis, a disproportionately high rate of people living in poverty, families struggling to put food on the table, and infrastructure in sore need of investment.
“These are all issues I have sought to address while in office, by bringing new affordable housing development, increasing our Human Services budget, providing grant funding to help small businesses, prioritizing essential projects like adding sidewalks in school zones, and more. While we have taken many steps in the right direction, we still have a long way left to go, and I want to be a part of building a brighter future for Burien.
“I first ran for office because the people in our community inspired me to do so. Individuals encouraged me to step up, recognizing that we needed leaders in our city willing to tackle tough problems – someone mindful, but not afraid to take action. I am honored that the people of Burien chose me to serve as their elected representative, and I am committed to fighting for the best interests of Burien each and every day.
“I have a long history of service to our community. I have spent over a decade in nonprofit leadership, and am currently on the board of four local nonprofits – the Burien Library Guild, the Burien Arts Association, the Tukwila Pantry food bank (serving Burien, Seatac, and Tukwila), and the Multi Service Center (serving all of South King County). I also hold positions on several regional boards and committees, including the South County Area Transportation Board, the King County Cities Climate Collaboration, and the Domestic Violence Initiative Regional Task Force. I spend my free time volunteering for various other organizations and causes, including the Burien Severe Weather Shelter, Burien Clean Sweep, and more. In addition to my background in nonprofits, I also have years of experience as a small business owner, and as a parent raising children in our community.
“I believe my continued dedication to serving our city, paired with my knowledge, skills, and experience, provides me valuable insight and perspective that benefits Burien.”
2. What is the biggest issue facing Burien residents, and how can that be solved?
“We cannot rely on single-issue leaders, because the needs of our city are complex and diverse. We need leaders willing and able to take on multiple issues at once, who recognize the importance of a well-rounded approach.
“I believe there are several major issues Burien is facing right now – poverty, a housing and homelessness crisis, recovering from the pandemic, a need for economic growth, the need for improvements and expansion to our infrastructure, and the need to address environmental sustainability and climate change, just to list a few.
“When it comes to solutions, I believe stability comes from the ground up. We must ensure the safety and well-being of all our people, to establish a solid foundation for our community. We build our prosperity on the foundation of our workforce – so we must make sure our workers have access to housing, transportation, a livable wage, healthcare, education, and enough food for their families. We must reach out to those who are struggling so we can help address the root causes – whether it is housing insecurity, mental illness, addiction, lack of resources, etc. – and get them back on track.
“When people are no longer living in poverty, they have more money to spend in our local economy. They can support our local businesses, or start their own. They are less likely to resort to crime, and are more likely to invest in their future. Recognizing inequity so we can prioritize underserved populations and neighborhoods in our community, and identify and address gaps in service and opportunity, helps put people on a more level playing field. Incentivizing affordable housing development helps ensure everyone has a safe place to call home. These are ways to address immediate concerns in our community, but long-term planning also needs to be taken into account, and working to protect our environment and address the climate crisis should always stay at the forefront of our minds. Implementing policies that increase eco-friendly practices (such as expanding public transit and transit-oriented development to reduce reliance on fossil fuels), and curb unsustainable or harmful activity, is one example. Preserving our green spaces, retaining and increasing our tree canopy, and reducing harmful pollutants being released into our community are further ways we can be proactive in our approach.”
3. What are your thoughts on conducting sweeps of homeless encampments? How would you balance the rights and needs of people experiencing homelessness and those of other residents and businesses in Burien?
“We know that sweeps don’t work. Displacing people, disrupting any progress they might be making towards stability, creating more difficulty for support networks to find and help people, is counterproductive. This isn’t speculation – there is plenty of research out there that shows this to be true. We have to bring forth real solutions to the issue of homelessness – not just shuffle people around, or try to push them out of sight and out of mind.
“When it comes to addressing the homelessness crisis, we must take an approach that serves to benefit all of us in this community – and there is a clear path forward to doing just that. Nobody wants people who are unhoused sleeping on our sidewalks, in alleys, or out in other public spaces. We need to hone in on the root of that concept, though: nobody wants people unhoused. If we don’t want homeless people in our community, the simplest solution is to provide them with housing. Through that single act, people who are considered a nuisance can suddenly become just another neighbor.
“When someone is in a crisis as devastating as being without a home, without shelter and the essentials one needs to survive, it becomes incredibly difficult to focus on anything other than basic survival. When we offer people stability and support, it provides them an opportunity to heal, to improve, to have hope for a better future. Housing is the most basic necessity required for a sense of stability for anyone; if someone doesn’t have a place to get a good night’s sleep, or shower, or store clean clothes, or have walls they can feel safe behind, when someone has nothing to their name, all they are left with is despair, and desperation.
“The outreach workers contracted with our city, the trained professionals who have access to networks of resources throughout the region and have developed relationships with our unhoused population through years of working with them, have told our leaders and our community in no uncertain terms that there simply is not enough shelter or housing available to meet the needs of our homeless population – but as soon as options become available, people are quick to take it. We have to find a stopgap solution in the interim between someone sleeping on the streets and gaining access to permanent housing.”
4. What are your thoughts on conducting sweeps of homeless encampments? How would you balance the rights and needs of people experiencing homelessness and those of other residents and businesses in Burien?
“I believe in proven, data-driven approaches to public policy. We have decades of evidence that shows us a housing first model works to effectively address homelessness. We must ensure people who already have housing aren’t being displaced, as so many families are just barely scraping by, at risk of losing their homes at any moment, and we must create more affordable and accessible housing to accommodate people who are currently out on the street.
“Addiction, mental and physical health issues, trauma – all of these are problems that are incredibly difficult to overcome. This is especially true for people who spend every moment in crisis, who can’t get proper sleep, who can’t maintain proper hygiene because they don’t have anywhere to shower or store clean clothes, who have limited resources and support, and who live under stress and in fear every single day. By providing housing, we can create a sense of stability that empowers people to improve their situation and get the help they need. We can give people hope for a better future, and show them there is a path forward to a better life.”
5. How would you measure and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of Burien’s homelessness policies and programs?
“Every year there is a King County Point in Time Count of unhoused people in our community. I have participated in this effort multiple times, driving around our streets through the night to find out how many people are left unsheltered. This is a detailed metric by which we can assess how many people are homeless in our area at that time each year. If we take steps to address the housing and homelessness crisis by preventing evictions, providing affordable housing for families with limited income, and providing temporary housing for people who are living unsheltered as they work towards obtaining permanent residences, we can watch our homeless numbers decrease. I believe this is a valuable tool for us to use when determining the effectiveness of our policies relating to housing and homelessness.
“We have another number that needs to be considered as well: the number of people who die unhoused in our city. Burien has a disproportionately high mortality rate for unhoused people compared to King County as a whole. Two unhoused women died in Burien just last month alone. Homelessness decreases life expectancy by an average of 28 years for people in this area. Failing to address this crisis is literally killing people. We have to recognize homelessness as the public health emergency that it is, and act accordingly. When we take appropriate measures to face this issue head on, we can not only see the count of how many homeless people are in our city go down, but we can watch our mortality rates decrease and life expectancy rates go up.
“We can measure the effectiveness of our policies and programs by seeing exactly how people are impacted, counting the number of people left unhoused, and counting the added years to their lives.”
6. What are your thoughts on the job that Burien Police/King County Sheriff’s Office are doing?
“I am proud to have a police department that proactively seeks to collaborate with mental/behavioral health specialists to provide appropriate responses for people in crisis, and utilizes diversion programs like LEAD to help steer people towards a better path instead of throwing them in jail for minor offenses at great cost to taxpayers. I also appreciate efforts ongoing in our community such as gun buyback programs, outreach and informational efforts like Coffee With A Cop events, and having a police chief that works to be accessible to the community and directly address their concerns.
“It is notable that we have had an ongoing police shortage in our city, due to staffing issues at the King County Sheriff’s Office. As a result, our police force here is stretched thin. This is not unique to Burien, and is an issue that impacts the entire county. By expanding programs like our Community Response Team, allowing alternative crisis management professionals to address situations that may not require law enforcement involvement, and investing in community support systems, we can help alleviate the strain on officers by preventing crime, and leave our officers more time to focus on dangerous and violent crimes.”
7. Do you have any plans to help Burien businesses that are struggling from recent issues, like COVID or increasing crime?
“I have been a strong proponent of supporting our businesses, and will continue to advocate on their behalf. When the pandemic struck, I initiated the push for the first round of grants for small businesses from the city – before any state or federal money came through. I voted in favor of the new program that allows small businesses to apply for reimbursement from the city for criminal damage done to their buildings. I have also been a proponent for expansion of our food truck pilot program, including making it easier for local operators to get through the permitting process.
“In addition to providing direct support to businesses, I also recognize the importance of policies that promote a healthy economy and a strong workforce. When we increase our affordable housing stock, for example, it reduces the number of people who are cost-burdened from paying more than they can comfortably afford for rent. This means our residents have more money to spend on other goods and services in our local businesses – benefiting Burien’s economy. This also means people have more stability, which is vital for a healthy workforce. I have and will continue to advocate for improving access to things like childcare and healthcare, which working families need in order to support themselves.”
8. How would you balance the needs and interests of different neighborhoods and communities in Burien?
“I believe we need to recognize the unique needs of every neighborhood across the city, and identify areas where there are gaps in service. Every pocket of Burien (and the population that lives there) is equally important, but not every area receives equitable investments for development and support. We have to have a well-rounded approach to allocating city resources, and make sure no neighborhood is left behind as we seek to make improvements, and work to accommodate growth.
“It is especially important for us to acknowledge areas that have historically been under-funded, and work to bring those areas up to the same standard we uphold for other parts of the city that have been a focal point for our elected leaders. This means ensuring all parts of our community have sidewalks for pedestrian safety, for example, and addressing outdated infrastructure. It means encouraging development in areas that lack essential goods and services, such as the parts of Burien that are considered a food desert because there are no grocery stores nearby where people can buy healthy food for their families. And it means working to address issues that impact the health and quality of life of people in certain neighborhoods that face area-specific challenges, like improving noise mitigation programs for people living under the flight path of the airport.
“We have to listen to the feedback of our community members, and be proactive about working to solve the problems that cause disruption in their daily lives. I am committed to serving all of our city, and giving each neighborhood the recognition it deserves as a vital part of our city.”
9. How would you engage with Burien’s youth and seniors?
“I work to maintain ongoing engagement with diverse people from a wide variety of demographics, including those from different age groups. We have to address the barriers that discourage or interrupt the ability of different groups to participate in city activities and policy discussions. This means improving accessibility for seniors that face mobility and transportation limitations, and ensuring our public outreach efforts account for people in assisted living facilities. It also means inspiring our youth to play an active role in community projects and participating in local government.
“I have worked to provide solutions to the need in our community for seniors to be able to age in place, maintaining stable and secure housing. I have also worked to sustain ongoing programming for our youth and seniors, such as classes at the community center for seniors and summer programs for teens, and keep these programs affordable and accessible. During the pandemic, I proposed and worked to implement a free online arts class for children, which included providing all supplies free to ensure low income families could participate, to help them stay engaged, and support their mental and emotional health. I have also volunteered with the PTA at my children’s schools and at local events to help provide enrichment through educational programs. In addition to this, I am proud to serve on the board of a nonprofit that provides scholarship funding for teens pursuing higher education.
“I believe Burien has made great strides in these areas but I feel that we have a long way left to go, and I am eager to be a part of that process towards our improvement.:
10. How would you enhance Burien’s environmental sustainability and resilience?
“As a city, we absolutely must keep a focus on what our future will look like. It is vital that our long-term strategies include plans to address environmental sustainability, and mitigate the impacts of climate change. We need to incentivize the use of green technology and eco-friendly materials and practices for new development, and improvements to existing buildings.
“We also need to work to minimize our negative environmental impact – for example reducing reliance on fossil fuels by improving sidewalks, bike lanes, and public transit, increasing accessibility to charging stations for electric vehicles, and cycling out our fleet of city vehicles with electric alternatives.
“By pursuing grant funding, we can help make home improvements for our residents like obtaining heat pumps and improved insulation more easily accessible. Through public education campaigns, we can help people be informed about opportunities to receive these types of assistance, and be more knowledgeable about ways they can personally contribute to the effort to make our city more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
“We also need to address the current problems we are facing due to climate change, and prepare for the increasingly dangerous impacts climate change is having on our population. This means working to find ways to provide cooling centers for vulnerable populations like seniors who don’t have air conditioning and unhoused people without shelter, who are at risk during bouts of extreme heat. We have to continue pursuing partnerships and combined efforts with our neighboring cities and surrounding jurisdictions, like the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration (which I am proud to serve on as a representative for our city). And, we must maintain an awareness of the need for environmental sustainability and climate change when considering future policy matters.”