Each candidate for Burien City Council was asked 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 second question in our series are from the candidates for Position 4.
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.
What is the biggest issue facing Burien residents, and how can that be solved?
“I’m often asked whether Burien’s biggest issue is public safety or homelessness. I’m not sure that’s the right question. The Seattle region is facing an intersectional crisis between public safety, homelessness, and addiction.
“Here’s how I think we should address that complex problem:
- “We should fully fund our first responders. I understand that some folks are strongly opposed to increased funding for police, or for enforcement of laws in tent camps. I don’t agree. I think funding first responders helps protect the vulnerable.
- “Despite that, I don’t believe every problem requires an armed response. On my ride alongs with our Burien Police, I’ve witnessed how our law enforcement responds to criminal behavior in our community. Some responses require police; others don’t. I want to make sure that both police and non-police responders have the tools they need to address situations they encounter. While on Council, I led the charge for a co-responder model in our downtown core, matching a police officer with a social service worker to address concerns in the commercial district of Burien.
- “Burien is a community that needs more investment in our justice system. I will continue to advocate, at the county and state level, to fund our local courts. Burien deserves a fully-funded justice system – especially for our most vulnerable.
“Addressing public safety means bringing together people who disagree. I’m supported by local law enforcement, and I’m also a Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense Candidate of Distinction. It’s because of my record. People – even people who disagree with each other on a lot – know I’m serious about Burien’s big challenges.”
“Burien, like neighboring cities, is currently facing a myriad of issues. There is a need for us to create a sense of safety for our residents by partnering with law enforcement officials, who need to work among the community as contributing members to better understand the negative impact of violence, particularly gun violence. Arrests don’t create a safe community, and unnecessary arrests increase a drain on city revenue.
“Through various social service partnerships, we need to develop a neighborhood policing model where there are open social centers partnering with law enforcement agencies. These neighborhood centers would house both social workers and mental health professionals to support those in need of mental and behavioral health programs and resources.
“Burien can leverage lessons learned from other cities by pooling resources with not-for-profits and businesses. Regular foot and bike patrols in the heart of the city create a sense of community and give law enforcement an opportunity to be a valuable partner.
“It’s important that we focus on scalable solutions to relieve businesses from their economic losses. Burien is no longer a small city but now a thriving metropolis given its proximity to Seattle. The difference in this situation is, Burien can learn from the lessons of its city to the North.”
“Affordable housing is the big issue that subsumes so many of the others, both in our city and across our county and region. Decades of choices have left some neighborhoods underdeveloped and our city unprepared to house as many people as live here. Underpaying jobs and lack of access to services leaves so many of our neighbors and families vulnerable to losing their housing. Trusted leaders are needed to collaborate with experienced experts to enact responsible and sustainable policy, both for today, and for our community onward into the future.
“Action: This crisis wasn’t created quickly, and there’s no quick way out of it. To start, we will need to rehire the planning commission, promise to protect their civil rights, and follow their expert advice on the policy changes necessary to prepare our city to house the Burienites of 2023, and of 2044. The city must work with [the] county on its immediate offer of $1.3 million for emergency tiny home shelters. We must implement the recommended upgrades to the Affordable Housing Demonstration Project, and continue to support many housing options, to match all income levels and needs, for all the people of our community. We have the power to end homelessness in Burien.
“Democracy: Washington State Elections are among those considered the gold standard in our country for administering free and fair elections. Hand-marked, paper ballots, traceable, auditable, with signature verification and clear processes to collect, count, and certify the people’s votes, with a clear process for challenge and appeal, are among the features that make us emblematic of a healthy voting system. Yet I am concerned that the repercussions of the national attack on democracy are not done with our community yet. Threats to the functioning of our democracy – whether they happen in Ukraine, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Tennessee legislature, or the Burien City Council – are too alive and well to be ignored. The people’s representatives should represent all the people’s interests – not solely those of the donor class.
“Public safety: during the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020, hundreds of Burienites, led by our youth, took to the streets to demand justice, to demand change, to demand leadership that listens to and follows the priorities of the people. Our city has stepped up in participating in pilot programs of diversion and co-response along with law enforcement, but our city still spends about half of its general fund money on the police contract. This is problematic because it leaves fewer resources to the public to invest in community-based solutions, where the public is taking care of the public. Public safety is a thriving public.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read answers to this same question by candidates for Burien City Council, Position No. 2 here.
Next up in our 2023 election series – we ask Burien City Council candidates: