The B-Town Blog asked candidates running for Burien City Council Position No. 4 ten questions 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 the first question in our series are from the candidates for Council Position No. 4, which is currently filled by incumbent Kevin Schilling, who is running for reelection.
NOTE: Candidates are listed in order as per the King County Elections online Voters Guide website. Photos and links are to/from each candidate’s profile on the same website.
Why are you running for Burien City Council? Please explain what inspired you to run and why you are qualified.
“It has been a privilege serving you on Burien City Council. In my first four years, I’ve worked hard to deliver for the city I grew up in.
“As a third-generation Burien resident, graduate of St. Francis of Assisi School and Aviation High School in the Highline School District, I have a deep care for the future of the city. My parents worked hard all my life, my dad as a Navy veteran and lifelong Boeing SPEEA engineer, and my mom as an accountant in a school. They instilled in me values of hard work, responsibility, and compassion.
“I’ve brought those values to my work on City Council. I’ve built relationships with our representatives in D.C. and Olympia, and I take advantage of every opportunity to push for Burien’s interests. From utility tax relief for seniors and workers, to expanding low-income broadband access to students and families, to coordinating meals during the COVID pandemic, I’ve always looked for ways to make a positive impact for the betterment of my hometown.
“Today, Burien needs experienced, no-nonsense leadership more than ever.
“I’m running for re-election because, honestly, I’m concerned about Burien’s future. We live in an incredible city. However, Burien is increasingly struggling with homelessness and public safety. Dealing with these problems are City Council’s core mission. I believe we must ensure our neighborhoods are safe, clean, and vibrant.
“Here’s my plan to address our challenges:
- “Make Burien the best place to do business and to be a worker. Strong neighborhoods start with strong neighborhood businesses. They provide jobs, amenities, and ‘eyes on the ground’. I’ll work to make Burien the best place in Washington to do business. That includes reducing permitting time, plus allowing offices and light manufacturing in Burien’s commercial zones. Additionally, I will work to make Burien a great place to work. I will continue to champion our service sector union workers at grocery stores, hospitals, and schools, and I’m proud to be endorsed by grocery store workers with UFCW 3000, teachers with the Highline Education Association, the Laborers Union, Carpenters Union, Ironworkers Union, Seattle Building Trades, the Bus Drivers Union, the Sailors Union, and Teamsters that represent City of Burien employees.
- “Fully fund first responders. Burien first responders are responding to more calls than ever. Our neighbors, especially immigrants, people of color, and working families, are struggling with increased crime. We need to ensure Police, Fire, and other emergency support units have the staffing necessary to respond and protect those most at risk.
- “Continue to invest in community policing. In my first term, I implemented the Downtown Core Police Co-Responder model, to tackle the linked issues of public safety, mental illness, and substance use. There’s more work to be done. I will work to expand this model, in the Downtown Core and beyond to ensure Burien is safe for all who live, work, and play here.
- “Address gun violence. I’m proud to be a Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense Candidate with Distinction. Unfortunately, Burien has experienced an increase in crimes involving firearms. Lives have been lost, and it has forever changed many more. As someone who has witnessed gun violence in Burien firsthand, I know how traumatizing it can be. Gun crime needs to be addressed on multiple levels, from state-level policies, to increased enforcement and gang reduction initiatives. I will work to find common-sense solutions and curb rising rates of gun violence in our city.
- “Address homelessness. Addressing homelessness is mostly the responsibility of regional government – but that is not an excuse for local leaders to do nothing. I’ll continue to pressure county and state governments to aid cities like Burien in this fight. I’ll also work to improve Burien’s shelter bed coordination. The court case Martin v. Boise makes Burien’s responsibility clear. We need to get people the housing and services they need to reduce outdoor camping. I believe we must do both.
- “Do more for veterans. As the proud son and grandson of veterans, I understand the sacrifice made for our country and communities. I want to create a Burien Veterans’ Committee to better inform veterans policy, coordinate with the VA, and bring more resources to folks who need help navigating services.
- “Work with the Port of Seattle, especially around air quality. As chair of the Airport Committee, I have worked hard to keep Burien’s seat at the table at the Port of Seattle, as they make major decisions that impact the health of our community. I’ll keep ensuring Burien’s voice is heard as we keep pushing for regulations that minimize negative environmental and health impacts.
- “Finally: Never stop listening. I want to understand what’s happening in every neighborhood. If you have questions or concerns about Burien, you can reach out directly to my personal cell phone, 206-948-0381.
“Over the last few years, I’m proud that my work has earned support from community leaders, in Burien and beyond. I’m proud to be endorsed by Congressman Adam Smith, King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, King County Assessor John Wilson, Port Commissioner Sam Cho, State Senator Joe Nguyen, State Senator Karen Keiser, State Rep. Tina Orwall, Former Governor Christine Gregoire, and tons of Burienites, as well as multiple unions and organizations. I’m truly energized by the support.
“Working together to tackle challenges is in Burien’s character. Together, we can build a better Burien that’s safe, prosperous, and vibrant. It has been an honor to do this work, and to have the trust of my hometown.”
“I have become disillusioned with the apathy I see in my community. I see my city council allowing my neighbors to suffer; those neighbors may be the unhoused, who have no place to go in my city, or they may be business leaders who are struggling due to theft and vandalism. I am a results-driven individual who believes Burien can be so much more. I am determined to make a difference in my community. I want to collaborate with my fellow council members to increase available affordable housing by income, find scalable solutions for our unhoused neighbors, drive increased economic development opportunities, develop realistic transportation solutions and ensure climate change is always part of the discussion.
“My experience has prepared me to be a productive member of a diverse council who will work together and make tough decisions for the betterment of our city. Decisions that consider the impacts to all residents of Burien. When we disagree on how to address an issue, I will bring my leadership and conflict resolution skills to the table to help bring about well thought out decisions that take into consideration all voices in our community.
“In my work I frequently collaborate and negotiate with stakeholders with varying interests to achieve mutually agreeable results for employees. As a member of the city council, it is necessary to collaborate with one another towards the common goals of meeting the varying needs for city residents. Our goal must always be to work to understand the needs for our residents and to find solutions that best serve our constituents. I realize that policies can be iterative and often require analysis and adjustment over time. I know how to build the types of policies that are strong enough to make a difference, while still being flexible enough to be altered when needed.
“I have the skills and willingness to work as a contributing member of a team, and to help build those skills for my colleagues, making us a stronger body overall. I’ve had the honor of developing workforce development programs that have been adopted at the community college level meant to provide skill sets for those looking to find careers with a livable wage and benefits to provide for their families. I plan to bring that same experience to the role of City Council.”
“Burien stands at a crossroads and needs active and collaborative leadership guided by evidence-based solutions to the most pressing issues our community is facing, including affordable housing for all, sustainable democracy that works for all, and public safety for all our residents.
“I have been serving my community and advocating for change since the 2017 police killings in quick succession of Tommy Le (Burien), Charleena Lyles (Seattle), and Giovonn Joseph-McDade (Kent). I began speaking in public Council meetings, working with local civic groups and organizers, and finding opportunities to be directly involved in democracy at the local level.
“I am a queer white man who has held many titles and identities. I am a transracial adoptee, raised in a bicultural family, a grandchild of Filipino immigrants on my mother’s side and white rural Alabamians on my father’s. I grew up in Kent, graduated from Kent Meridian High School, and obtained a B.A. from Life Pacific University. I have called Burien home since 2004.
“I have had a varied career path that has given me experience in several fields: I have worked in the service industry, in the tech field for 10 years in software quality assurance, self-employment, contract, nonprofit, faith communities, and volunteerism.
“Since 2017 I have been working with local candidates and civic groups to build community and use my voice and actions to effect change: I’ve canvassed for progressive candidates, provided public testimony before the Burien City Council and the King County Council, organized with ACLU People Power Washington, Community Visions, and the Buy Nothing Project. In 2021 I was appointed by Executive Constantine to the King County Community Advisory Committee for Law Enforcement Oversight (CACLEO) to advise the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) on community concerns and priorities with regards to policing in the county. I was appointed by the City of Burien to two local volunteer advisory boards: the Burien Human Services Commission and the Burien 2044 Planning Commission. I am part of the core leadership team at the Burien Severe Weather Shelter.”
Read answers to this question from Burien City Council candidates for Position No. 2 here.
Next up in our 2023 election series – we ask Burien City Council candidates: