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Meet the candidates: Dini Duclos

To educate the public before the Aug. 21 primary, The Mirror is giving candidates an opportunity to answer questions regarding important issues facing Federal Way. Each of the four candidates for position 7 — Dini Duclos, Troy Smith, Hope Elder and Eric Stavney — received the following questions. Responses to each question were limited to 200 words. Each candidate’s answers will be published, with a photo, in The Mirror on Aug. 1, Aug. 4, Aug. 8 and Aug. 11.

On Aug. 15, The Mirror will advise readers on what each candidate could bring to the city council if elected. — Andy Hobbs, Mirror editor

1. What is your style of leadership, and how will that enhance Federal Way should you get elected?

As a leader, I am very fair-minded and inclusive in my approach to situations. I strive to listen to all sides and ensure that people who are impacted are involved in discussion and deliberation before decisions are made. As a member of the City of Federal Way’s Planning Commission, I often helped the group keep in mind that decisions should not be made without input from those most impacted. I am a good listener and am very good at helping individuals and groups sort out issues and get to the heart of the matter. I have proven experience in successfully bringing together people who were at odds to develop solutions that all parties could agree to accept. I have successfully used this approach in all facets of my life: In my work arenas, with public safety issues, in business dealing and in my neighborhood community. I am certain that my fair-minded and inclusive leadership style would make the Council stronger and more responsive to residents.

2. 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. by a vote of 4-3. How would you have voted on this project, and what would have been your reasons for voting that way?

I formally testified at that Council meeting in favor of the United Properties proposal, as I believe that it has the right mixture of office, retail and residential. In my recent telephone survey of this community, people expressed the need for higher paying jobs. The offices to be located within this project provide these types of higher paying jobs. The project benefits the city by providing a major downtown park at no cost to the city, while earning the city a profit on the sale of the land to United Properties. Thus we have more money to continue to jump start our downtown redevelopment. Including affordable, work-force (not low-income) apartments as well as condos increases the mix of available housing and strengthens the marketability of the project. This housing will attract college graduates looking to start their careers, young married couples with no children and those who would like to “downsize their housing.” This is a win-win deal for the city, the developer and the people of Federal Way. The City Council can require covenants on this development just as we have in other residential areas of the city to assure proper maintenance and appearance.

3. There’s been a longtime effort to establish a performing arts center in Federal Way. What role does the city need to play in making this a reality? Who should take the lead in building and running a performing arts center?

I do support a performing arts center and believe the city is taking the proper road right now by working with various groups and individuals. It has made public announcements, sponsored open public meetings, arranged for experts to meet with these groups to share their ideas and expertise, and approved Art Commission dollars for a feasibility study.

I believe the next steps are critical in assuring a successful venture. First, we must identify the “niche” that this center would offer to a broader community than just Federal Way; one that is not competitive, but rather unique. Secondly, the issue of long-term funding must be defined and resolved. Identifying partners to be included will help, as well as creating some type of endowment fund to offset the margin between actual income and operating expenses. Finally, such a venture must be kept affordable for our own Federal Way groups such as the Symphony.

Running the facility would best be done by a not-for-profit organization so it can raise funds for the ongoing needs. This community has spent years trying to establish a performing arts center. Timing and well-reasonsed planning will assure that it will be successful.

4. What role should the City Council play in attracting visitors to Federal Way?

The city should use some of its economic development funds to work with our smaller and medium sized business community. Federal Way is a very diverse community, and we should be helping our Asian, Ukrainian, Hispanic and other businesses to better market what their unique products and services bring to enrich the city. Larger venues such as Wild Waves are already destinations, and we need to assure that they continue to offer families a wonderful place to gather and have fun. The City Council can help develop marketing materials and publicity to draw people to Federal Way. It could also use some of its economic dollars to bring in experts in this area to work with our local businesses and help them to transform their image and become destinations in their own right. By doing so, Federal Way as a city will see a reduction in the amount of money that flows out of our city. Finally, the city has to work with businesses to make it easier to attract visitors to their stores, amusement facilities, etc. The city has to be a welcoming place where destination-type businesses will want to locate.

5. What would you do as a City Council member to help reduce traffic congestion on Federal Way’s main roads?

One thing to look at is the synchronizing and coordination of our lights. I constantly hear about and experience a lack of or poor synchronization of lights on our streets. People have to sit in intersections for more than three red lights to get through the intersection at several locations, particularly the 320th/Pacific Highway and 16th Avenue South and 348th Street intersections. I have traveled through other cities that time their lights and traffic flows much smoother and quicker. I have consistently heard these complaints from many individuals, and this was a major “hot button” from those respondents to my telephone survey.

As we develop our new downtown section with increased residential, offices and retail, we should develop “sky bridges” that would connect the newer portions to 320th and The Commons area. This would increase foot traffic while eliminating the need to get in your car to go to the various restaurants and shops located immediately on and off 320th. Cars would be left in the parking areas created by the new developments.

6. What are the benefits of the proposed annexation that would add 20,000 residents to Federal Way?

The goal of the county through growth management is to have all areas, and the populations included, annexed into a city and we have to accommodate this. In order to facilitate this, the county is going to pay the City of Federal Way to offset our initial costs for the next several years, thus giving us time to increase our revenue sources in order to provide for the additional services needed. In addition, the people who vote to be annexed will enjoy better services from our police department and public works than they currently get from the county. They will make good neighbors, shoppers and users of our entertainment facilities. In addition, as a part of our city we can work with many of these areas to continue to promote residential development with reasoned regard for our natural environment. As a member of the Planning Commission, I have listened to people from our city and the potential annexation area, and my motion to adopt the suggestions of those present regarding the Shoreline Management Plan was accepted and forwarded to the City Council committee.

7. What would you do as a City Council member to strengthen the business community and enhance economic development in Federal Way?

I would like to convene a group of people from various business and other backgrounds and establish an economic “targeting” team. These team members would work with city staff to look at our downtown and other areas of our city identified for commercial use. It would also identify the types of businesses/corporations that would benefit our community in terms of quality and quantity of jobs and other added benefits to our community. This team would propose plans of action, including how to outreach to these businesses and send ambassadors from our city to begin dialogues. By doing this, we take the “chance” out of our economic development by leading the directions in which our community wants to go.

Another way of strengthening our businesses, especially our small business owners, is to bring in experts to work with these owners and help them better market their unique products and services to a greater population base. The goal is to turn our local businesses into destination businesses. By strengthening our small businesses, we bring more revenue into the city. Strong businesses mean better schools and a healthy community for all.

8. What legacy would you like to leave if elected to the Federal Way City Council?

I would like to leave office knowing that I helped develop Federal Way into a community that is united in its vision and goals. I not only want to promote downtown revitalization and development, but actually see it done. I want to have laid a groundwork that assures that Federal Way as a city is viewed as a leader in King County and is respected by its neighbors. When I leave office, I want to know that the work of the Council during my tenure replaced the negative image that many people in King County continued to hold about Federal Way with an image of a vibrant, healthy, fiscally sound and proud community that is a model for other communities to emulate.

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