[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
Letter to the Editor,
First off, I’d like to thank the B-Town Blog for running these two candidate night forums and thanks to Pat LeMoine for video taping them free of charge to the public. The first forum on October 8th, featured Debi Wagner and Joan McGilton for Council Position #3 and Nancy Tosta and Rose Clark for Position # 5. Both Wagner and Tosta were very citizen centered candidates and expressed an extreme willingness to listen to, meet with and engage with citizens. On the other hand, McGilton and Clark spent a great deal of time talking about their pasts and what they had done rather than focusing on how to improve the Council into the future. Both McGilton and Clark were unwilling to openly discuss what had been the roadblocks to the Council in the last several years.
At the second forum on October 15, 2013, there was Jack Block and Lauren Berkowitz for Position #1 and Steve Armstrong and Joey Martinez for Position #7. Some interesting contrasts were apparent at this forum also. Jack Block and Steve Armstrong stated they had gotten the bulk of their contributions from the businesses and citizens of Burien; the PDC confirms that. Lauren Berkowitz appears to have gotten her contributions from her legal friends and Union PACS and supporters outside of the city. The PDC, confirms only 13% of her funding comes from Burien citizens. Likewise the majority of Joey Martinez’s contributions come from out of state (his relatives) with only 20% from Burien residents. The PDC confirms that. While Berkowitz and Martinez spoke several times about their doorbelling efforts with citizens,it appears that much of it has been recently done by doorbellers brought in from out of the city on buses? See the Berkowitz Facebook page.
When asked about the city’s plan for apartments in the Town Square and the plan to put in large amounts of low value housing along the Transit Corridors, three of the four candidates at the Oct. 15th forum completely tried to ignore the discussion about this proposed plan. Only one candidate addressed the issue, Steve Armstrong. He stated that he was opposed to it. Joey Martinez claimed that to even bring up the question was decisive for a citizen to ask. However, it is important to remember that Burien chose to become a city in 1993 just to avoid this kind of explosion of multifamily housing developments and the impacts that they have to the schools and the city’s need to provide the costly human resources, fire and police services to these highly densified populations.
The trend at both forums was the belief by several of the candidates that arts are going to be a great saving grace to the city’s economic dilemma. There seemed to be little focus by most of the candidates on how to reduce costs or help businesses in the city. Debi Wagner at the Oct. 8th forum talked about improving the Farmer’s Market, reducing business impact fees in the city and ways for improving citizen protection while holding down police costs as strategies to help the economics. At both forums some candidates (Wagner, Armstrong, Block) mentioned the difficulties that businesses have in trying to get permits to open their business and the city was many times difficult for businesses to work with.
Lauren Berkowitz, who at the July forum for the Primary Election, told citizens she had lived in the Burien area for 11 years was unable to state how long she really had lived in the Burien at the Oct. 15th forum. Her answer at this forum was she was an “off and on” resident. At this forum, as well as at the Primary Election Forum, Berkowitz continued to state that one of her most important goals was to give everyone sidewalks to improve public safety. Sidewalks are one of the most expense things that a city can put in (and they require lots of new taxes to fund them) and ought to be a low priority when the city can’t even afford to upgrade its storm water system, maintain its roads, parks and add extra police protection. Berkowitz offered no plan about where the funding for this massive sidewalk project would come from. All of the other candidates at both forums were able to state specifically how long they had lived in Burien. Clark and McGilton again focused on their interest to create a new tax program/Kids and Cops.
Annexation is a topic that is still looming out there. McGilton, Clark, Martinez and Berkowitz are pro-annexation.Wagner, Armstrong, Block and Tosta are opposed to annexation as it has been proposed.
The videos for these forums are or shortly will be available on the B-Town Blog site for citizens to view. There are some big differences between these candidates. I encourage all citizens to watch the videos before voting in the election.
– R. Delorm
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