The Burien People for Climate Action group (Burien PCA) recently submitted five questions on climate issues to the eight candidates running in the 2021 Burien City Council race.

Five candidates responded to the survey, and they are published below in order of how candidates are listed on the King County Elections website):

QUESTION 1: Do you acknowledge that the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is increasing rapidly, is the highest it has ever been, and that human Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs) are the primary cause?

POSITION NO. 1:

Martin Barrett: Did not respond.

Hugo Garcia: “Yes.”

POSITION NO. 3:

Jimmy Matta: “Yes.”

Mark Dorsey: “Yes.”

POSITION NO. 5:

Sarah Moore: “Yes.”

Alex Simkus: Did not respond.

POSITION NO. 7:

Krystal Marx: “Yes.”

Stephanie Mora: Did not respond.


QUESTION 2: “Do you support the goal of the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration (K4C) set by the County and 16 Cities (including Burien) to reduce GHG emissions to 50% of 2007 levels by 2030?”

POSITION NO. 1:

Martin Barrett: Did not respond.

Hugo Garcia: “Yes.”

POSITION NO. 3:

Jimmy Matta: “Yes.”

Mark Dorsey: “Yes.”

POSITION NO. 5:

Sarah Moore: “Yes.”

Alex Simkus: Did not respond.

POSITION NO. 7:

Krystal Marx: “Yes.”

Stephanie Mora: Did not respond.


QUESTION 3: “In recognition of our current climate emergency and its connection with almost all of our current local and universal societal issues, do you plan to include climate considerations in all of your policymaking decisions?”

POSITION NO. 1:

Martin Barrett: Did not respond.

Hugo Garcia: “Yes.”

POSITION NO. 3:

Jimmy Matta: “My plan goes beyond considerations, hinging rather on intentional prioritization of climate policy. That being said, I will also lead with understanding. Sustainable living is a privilege. It is also something that has been widely erased from Diasporic cultures within the US. It is difficult to think more intentionally about the way you are living (i.e. reduce, reuse, recycle as an entry-level example) when you are just trying to survive. I want to make sure that, as we continue this conversation around personal and public accountability on climate pledging, that we lead with understanding and cultural responsivity.”

Mark Dorsey: “Of course.”

POSITION NO. 5:

Sarah Moore: “Absolutely. I sadly predict that by the end of my 4 year term, everyone will be doing this because it will be so necessary.”

Alex Simkus: Did not respond.

POSITION NO. 7:

Krystal Marx: “Yes. I plan to reach out to those who are experts in this field, and community activists who have been working on climate actions, when developing new policies.”

Stephanie Mora: Did not respond.


QUESTION 4: “According to the GHG Emissions Inventory recently completed by the City, approximately 80% of Burien’s carbon emissions come from transportation and buildings. As a Councilmember, what steps would you take to lower carbon emissions from these sources in Burien?”

POSITION NO. 1:

Martin Barrett: Did not respond.

Hugo Garcia: “A transition away from an extractive, fossil fuel based economy towards a human-centered, renewable energy powered economy is required for humanity to survive climate change. As our region continues to adapt to both a rapidly growing population and climate change. I will double down on my work on the Planning commission where we made recommendations to reduce the need for vehicles and improvements on public transit in how the city’s planning policies approached housing growth. From Solar to green building best practices to strengthening our tree protections policy. All of our multifamily housing practices need to focus on public transit, walkability, and biking as their main forms of transportation and protecting and investing in our 350 acres of parks will be a critical component since we can’t expect residents to do the same with their trees and green space on their property if we as a city don’t lead by example.”

POSITION NO. 3:

Jimmy Matta: “The hats I wear outside of city council are what have primarily influenced my ideas for this question. As a contractor, I am directly responsible for planning, making and molding the landscape and functionality of potential property. In order to ensure that new builds in Burien and renovations alike subscribe to our overall city climate plan objectives, we need to be able to sustain active and healthy relationships with not just the businesses finding a home for themselves in our city, but the contractors that create those homes. I am positioned to do just that as I stand between the crosshairs of trade and public service. Transportation, however, ties in to the culture of Burien. In the long term, creating an incentive around ‘green’ vehicles and building more accessible charging stations is something I can clearly see and support. Also, incentivizing public transportation as a means of commuting, which many do take (or must take) advantage of in Burien, with a city sponsored subsidized fair rate. Additionally, in downtown Burien, introducing more ‘Lime Bike/Scooter’ hubs could solve for saturation of traffic/congestion in the heart of our city.”

Mark Dorsey: “Identify alternative sources/measures that will benefit the climate and align with People for Climate Action goals while minimizing the impact (financially and physically) on those sources we target. In short, create win-win-win situations.”

POSITION NO. 5:

Sarah Moore: “Bring back rapid transit options to Burien and add new ones. Shuttle bus to key community services and amenities. Encourage businesses to incentivize transit riding through small perks. Work with port to renew expiring port packages (insulation) and install new ones on houses impacted by the airport; push back against more frequent flights. Incentivize making existing buildings more efficient, and require it for new construction. Zone for clustered housing and services, make walkability and bikeability a goal in all neighborhoods; encourage services/shopping within walk/bike/wheelchair distance of more homes. Support working remotely whenever feasible. Replace aging city fleet vehicles with electric. Coordinate with other cities and King County to assess the impact of 509 and 518 on Burien’s GHG emissions. Explore work from home options for city employees and contractors when possible/compatible with customer care. Consider electric vehicles in city fleet, and charging stations. Continue virtual public meeting options after pandemic ends to allow less driving. K4C and Burien PCA is already doing hard work on climate issues and I would be guided by their advice.”

Alex Simkus: Did not respond.

POSITION NO. 7:

Krystal Marx: “I believe that we need to require the planting of native trees and other climate-benefitting plants when we go through neighborhood redesigns (such as the Ambaum Boulevard and Boulevard Park redesign that is coming up), and with every new building we allow to be built. I will also continue to advocate for carbon neutral transportation choices in our city.”

Stephanie Mora: Did not respond.


QUESTION 5: “What are some other specific things you would do as a City Councilmember to combat climate change locally in Burien?”

POSITION NO. 1:

Martin Barrett: Did not respond.

Hugo Garcia: “I have worked toward combating climate change by being advocating and recommending for more housing policies which promote transit-oriented development. This consistent planning for healthy density support with sufficient public transit to support less need for residential and commercial parking as a way to set in motion more investment in mass transit which would reduce the use of car and air pollution. As well as continue to recommend for expansion, protection, and enforcement of urban tree canopy in our city as well as moving away from single use plastics and promoting healthy alternative to waste like composting in the city’s policies and ordinances. Which I have already started to work on while serving on both the Planning and Business Commissions.”

POSITION NO. 3:

Jimmy Matta: “Reaching and relating. The Climate Movement we know right now is a reflection of not who is most effected by the climate emergency or even who/what is most responsible for it. It is rather comprised of those who have the capacity or the choice to be sustainable. I want to contribute to expanding that capacity so that is can reach those of us in Burien, who are in areas severely impacted by noise and bio pollution from the airport. Those who do not have the luxury of buying more energy/fuel efficient or green vehicles to support long commutes. Those who might of immigrated here because of the displacing impact of the climate emergency across the globe. Working on people power alongside identifying what these people can benefit from in our growing city climate plan, that’s what I can do. That’s what I’m already doing.”

Mark Dorsey: “I would defer to the experts on the matter and take their suggestions into consideration, while also prioritizing the community and businesses of Burien.”

POSITION NO. 5:

Sarah Moore: “Develop new tree canopy in parks, public spaces and private property; support trees until they are strong; ivy removal projects with volunteers to maintain mature tree canopy. Grants for neighborhood solar projects, outreach to neighborhoods to identify and provide transit at key points. More park and ride options. Work with the school district and local unions to help prepare youth green jobs, and to prepare schools for rooftop solar. Consider focusing one of Burien’s festivals on climate and the environment. Support our Parks and Recreation program to get people outdoors. I would listen to experts and groups like K4C who have been doing this work for years. Climate change is already here, and I will strongly advocate for an emergency plan for heat and smoke (such as cooling centers) in summer, flood mitigation in winter, and a stronger electrical grid for the extreme climate events we expect in coming years, ideally with coordination and financial support from King County. I would survey neighborhoods to see what impacts they are already feeling, and prioritize addressing these hyperlocal effects of climate change. I would look at tree equity as a major mitigator of both heat and flood damage, and target tree renovation in places that need it most.”

Alex Simkus: Did not respond.

POSITION NO. 7:

Krystal Marx: “I will pursue sustainable urban planning by asking to prioritize green roofs, green streets that will capture stormwater, and pavements that allow water to percolate through. I have advocated for “pocket parks”, and will continue to do so as well, as well as moving us swiftly away from plastic products.”

Stephanie Mora: Did not respond.


CANDIDATES QUERIED AT SEPT. 23 ‘MEET & GREET’
The three candidates who did not respond to the survey were asked questions by Colleen Hinton of the Burien PCA in person at a Sept. 23 “Meet and Greet” event they attended, held at a home in Three Tree Point.

Here’s Hinton’s recap of that interchange:

“Burien PCA, a local group focused on combating climate change at the local level, sent you all a survey asking you about where tackling climate change ranks in your priorities as a candidate, and what ideas you have for actions the City of Burien could take to address climate change at the local level. We didn’t receive responses yet from Martin Barrett, Stephanie Mora, or Alex Simkus – thank you to Mark Dorsey for your responses. I’d like to hear your response to this question.

“Martin Barrett stated that he does see climate change as an important issue, but feels that crime and public safety are urgent issues that he gives top priority – he would turn his attention to climate change after first addressing his top priorities. He stated that out of over 7000 doors he has knocked on – only that four people have identified climate change as one of their top issues.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidate Barrett on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, submitted this additional statement to us:

“I am very concerned about the environment. It is an important issue to me. Anyone who has listened to my podcasts and seen my posts knows that I talk about Burien as the gem of the sound. It is impossible for that to happen without a pristine environment in our city. As an example, I would like to see us aggressively pursuing a tree program in our city.

“However, in the 8000 doors that I have knocked on only four residents have mentioned the environment as one of their top two priorities. Residents have consistently mentioned crime, public safety, and the homeless issues as their priorities. Government is about listening to residents and prioritizing. People are clear that they want these issues dealt with first before focusing on other things. However, there are a couple of things that we could do immediately that would help both to reduce our emissions and address the current priorities of the residents of Burien. Many people have shared that they no longer walk or ride a bike to the store or restaurant in our city because they do not feel safe. We need to clean up our neighborhoods and make them safe again. This will keep people out of their car and decrease their gas emissions. Additionally, by dealing with the homeless crisis we can clean up our ravines where the encampments are. These encampments are damaging the plant life and putting pollutants, including human waste, directly into the creeks and run off. By addressing homelessness and keeping our neighborhoods safe we can immediately reduce our environmental impact in Burien.”

“Stephanie Mora stated that she is a “single issue candidate” (crime/public safety/homelessness) and climate change is not something that is on her radar, she doesn’t know much about the issue. She later approached me and stated that she is eager to learn more about climate change, and asked me about ideas/suggestions Burien PCA might have about what a City Councilperson can do about climate change. Hinton pointed her to the Burien Climate Action Plan that is currently being developed with input from the community, for lots of great ideas.

“Alex Simkus said that ‘I own a gas station. Go ahead and buy an electric car’, which got a good laugh from the audience. He stated that as a frequent visitor to North Seatac Park, however, he was upset to hear about the Port of Seattle’s recent plan to remove trees and build a parking lot in that park – he would not support such actions as a Councilmember.”