News

Meet the candidates: Elder vs. Duclos

To educate the public before the Nov. 6 election, The Mirror is giving city council candidates an opportunity to answer questions regarding important issues facing Federal Way.

Each of the four candidates for the Federal Way City Council — Roger Freeman, Jack Dovey, Dini Duclos and Hope Elder — have received this questionnaire. The answers for Position 7 candidates Duclos and Elder are in today’s paper.

To read The Mirror’s endorsements of City Council, Lakehaven board and South King Fire and Rescue board candidates, see the Opinion page. To see questionnaire answers for any candidates, please search our Web site at www.fedwaymirror.com. — Andy Hobbs, Mirror editor

HOPE ELDER

1. There is a push for Federal Way to change its form of government and allow residents to elect a mayor. Do you support or oppose this change, and why?

I am totally opposed to changing our form of government. We have had very highly-trained and efficient city managers. Our mayors have attended to all events and the business of the city has not suffered. Even though we have City Council members who might be interested in the job of mayor, they would need additional assistance in taking over this very complicated position.

2. In August, voters in unincorporated King County rejected Federal Way’s proposed annexation of nearly 4,400 acres and 20,000 residents east of I-5. What are your thoughts on the voting results, and how should the Federal Way City Council handle this issue in the future?

I regret that the vote for annexation did not go the way I had expected, but certainly respect the wishes of the people who live in those areas that do not want to be part of this city. Their wishes came through loud and clear, and I feel it would be a waste of time and money to bring this to a vote again for a couple of years. I realize that county money is a factor here, but I feel it is more important that we recognize that these citizens have expressed their wishes.

3. The City Council recently chose a developer whose project will reshape downtown Federal Way, specifically at the former AMC Theaters site. Current City Council members approved a proposal from United Properties Ltd. What are your thoughts on the direction downtown Federal Way is heading, and what directions would you like to see downtown take?

I disagree with the proposed planning for the project for downtown at the AMC site. I feel the park will not be available to other citizens of Federal Way, but will be a park for the people who live in the apartments and condos there, with the City of Federal Way picking up the tab for the upkeep. Furthermore, I do not want the apartments at all. The moving in and out of rentals is not what I want for our downtown, and the implications of what this could also do to the affected schools makes me very leery.

4. What kind of relationship should the Federal Way City Council foster with the Federal Way School District?

I believe in a sound relationship with the Federal Way School District. We have developed some parks and playgrounds with them, which have benefited all of our citizens. Our partnerships are great to both organizations.

5. What quality of life issues will take priority for you as a Federal Way City Council member?

It is so easy to say you support a quality of life, public safety and planning for our future, but what this really means to me is economic development that brings family wage jobs to our city. If we have these kinds of jobs available, we would have less people on the roads and citizens would have more time to invest in their schools and city. The police department was formed while I was on the council before, and this was undoubtedly one of the best decisions we made. I am alarmed by what we are doing to established businesses in our city and the loss of revenue by businesses that have found themselves on a one-way street when they had developed their business on Pacific Highway. Many people will not go to the end of the long avenue to make a U-turn, but will just keep going to take their business elsewhere. It is great to promote new businesses, but not at the cost of the long-established businesses.

6. There has been resistance to growth in Federal Way. Some say recent City Council decisions will transform Federal Way into a city like Bellevue. Others want to keep Federal Way’s present character intact. In your opinion, what do you think is Federal Way’s destiny?

We are going to grow. Not all of these new residents are from out of the area or country; many are our own children that have come back to Federal Way. Growth brings challenges, but with planning we can make this a city we all can be proud of. The Growth Management Act has mandated that we plan for increased population, and that is what the council has been doing. I am chair of the Planning Commission, and we hear from concerned citizens on a regular basis. Growth disturbs some of our neighborhoods, crowds our schools and roads. We understand your concerns; after all, we live here too. We are attempting to plan so that Federal Way will have a downtown where you can shop without traveling for miles, where you can do a lot of errands in a short period of time, where you can meet family and friends without getting stuck in traffic on the interstate. I was delighted when the city bought the old AMC property so that the plans we made before we became a city can be put into place. Citizen involvement helps. Help us to plan a better city.

Contact Hope Elder: hopeelder2007@aol.com or (253) 941-7939.

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DINI DUCLOS

1. There is a push for Federal Way to change its form of government and allow residents to elect a mayor. Do you support or oppose this change, and why?

Federal Way is a relatively new city and has seen many changes in the past 15 years in terms of population and citywide development. For the past several years in my discussion with people, I have heard many indicate that they would like another form of government for our city. It took several ballots before cityhood was passed, and at one time an elected mayor was part of that process. Most recently, a petition promoting an elected mayor was circulated and signed by over 3,000 people. I truly believe this city belongs to its citizens and they should determine the form of government. There are many pros and cons regarding an elected mayoral or city manager form of government. Discussion needs to take place if this issue is placed on the ballot. I encourage the citizens of our city to be a part of this discussion and exercise their right to decide how they wish to be governed. I supported the recent petition because having the issue on the ballot is a way to open dialogue. People are speaking and the council needs to listen. People need to get out and vote on this very important issue.

2. In August, voters in unincorporated King County rejected Federal Way’s proposed annexation of nearly 4,400 acres and 20,000 residents east of I-5. What are your thoughts on the voting results, and how should the Federal Way City Council handle this issue in the future?

It would be a good idea for the city to meet with those involved and listen to what the issues were that made people vote against incorporation. It is essential for the city to learn why people were so adamantly opposed to becoming a part of our city. Because there are divided opinions in these potential annexation areas, the city needs to look at these geographic areas separately and encourage the Legislature to allow for reimbursement of smaller annexation areas where it makes sense. There are areas where people already identify themselves as a part of Federal Way since their addresses and post office are Federal Way. Others do not have this same identification and have no desire to be incorporated. Once the City Council evaluates the results of the election and has some meetings with the people in the areas that would have been affected, then I think it can reach some informed conclusions regarding annexation. Such an effort will enable the city to put forth more information about annexation to those concerned, so they can weigh the pros and cons, then make an informed decision as to whether or not they favor incorporation.

3. The City Council recently chose a developer whose project will reshape downtown Federal Way, specifically at the former AMC Theaters site. Current City Council members approved a proposal from United Properties Ltd. What are your thoughts on the direction downtown Federal Way is heading, and what directions would you like to see downtown take?

I believe that we are heading in the right direction for our city. We need to revitalize and rebuild our downtown core and frame. Several years ago, the city designated certain areas of the city as the core, and worked with Sound Transit to develop the Transit Station. This area now contains many problem areas because large corporations closed and left vacant facilities that are now home to transient populations and abet criminal activity. Bringing in housing, retail and office space will be the solution to these vacant properties and the associated crime. Another feature I believe we should have are two enclosed skyways connecting the upper level development to the shops, restaurants and The Commons located on 320th. This will provide a safe pedestrian passage way and keep automobiles off the road. Skyways have been very effective in other areas such as Spokane and Minneapolis. Having people living and working in our downtown will help keep criminal elements away while at the same time making Federal Way more attractive to the stores and businesses we want to see in our community. In the same vein, more offices and corporate headquarters will view Federal Way as an ideal place to locate.

4. What kind of relationship should the Federal Way City Council foster with the Federal Way School District?

I believe the working relationship between these two governmental entities has improved greatly over the past several years. These are, however, two separate governmental entities with their own elected officials that set their own policies and guide their own staffs. The City Council and school board members have worked to provide police/resource officers in the schools so that our children can be safe and focus on learning. I would always work to continue this. City meeting facilities are shared by the City Council and school board. They also share parks and park programs to provide more opportunities for our youth. The city planning process has included school officials especially as it relates to zoning issues and other decisions that might impact the school district. The City Council should continue to supply resource officers and aggressively support our parks for school activities. It could encourage businesses to work with schools to develop youth employment programs. Active and busy youth are less likely to take part in graffiti and crime. The city should continue to foster strong bonds and positive working relationships with regional entities impacting Federal Way quality of life: Lakehaven, King/Pierce counties, South King Fire, the cities of Auburn and Kent.

5. What quality of life issues will take priority for you as a Federal Way City Council member?

In my doorbelling, people tell me loudly that they want to live a life free of crime. They don’t want the visual assault of graffiti on city buildings and other private property. They want parks to be for families, not gangs. People say they want a better variety of shopping opportunities so they don’t have to leave Federal Way for their needs. They want to be able to drive without traffic jams and walk safely in their neighborhoods and downtown. These issues, the people of Federal Way’s issues, involve developing and maintaining a strong police force, developing standards for the maintenance and upkeep of our neighborhoods and parks, strengthening local neighborhoods via more direct communication between city officials and these local communities, and economic development in such a way as to bring higher-paying jobs to Federal Way. Another key element in quality of life for our residents now and in the future is to work with developers and members of the environmental community to produce housing that keeps what we all hold dear in Federal Way — our beautiful tall trees, our lakes, our beaches and our waterfront. We must retain the best of our natural settings.

6. There has been resistance to growth in Federal Way. Some say recent City Council decisions will transform Federal Way into a city like Bellevue. Others want to keep Federal Way’s present character intact. In your opinion, what do you think is Federal Way’s destiny?

The City of Federal Way needs to continue to grow if we are to remain competitive with other south county cities. Currently we are playing “catch up” to Renton, Kent and Auburn. These cities have already done much revitalization to their downtowns and attracted new retail and office businesses. If we don’t grow and continue to see ourselves as a “bedroom” community to Seattle, people will see increasing costs in their property and other taxes to simply support basic services to keep our community safe and secure for all. The economic impact to seniors and others would be devastating. It is a fact that our entire region is facing continued growth. To better manage this, the state instituted the Growth Management Act, which requires cities to plan for more residential density. In many ways, this is good for Federal Way. More residential housing for employees in our area makes Federal Way more attractive to businesses looking to either relocate or open new facilities in this area. The good thing is that we can direct this growth. We can change the face of Federal Way while still keeping the beauty that we have come to know and desire.

Contact Dini Duclos: dini@diniduclos.com or (253) 740-0124.

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