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Meet the candidates: Hope Elder

In an effort 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 (one candidate per issue; order will be determined by random drawing).

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 former council member and the former chair of the Federal Way Community Council, I have found listening to other people's concerns is a helpful way to come to a fair conclusion. You are elected to represent everyone, and only by listening can you understand their position. We are most fortunate to have an efficient city staff, but it is the citizens of this community who must be heard. Once a decision has been made by the city council, I will support it.

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 would not have voted in favor of the United Properties proposal. I was delighted when the city bought the old AMC Theater site, and felt this was a great step in the right direction to get our downtown started. I feel the original plans had been to have businesses as a number-one priority with residences secondary. I feel now that this position has been reversed. I am in favor of the mixed use and of the height of the buildings. I feel this was changed to comply with the Growth Management Act. I am very concerned about our not having the family wage jobs available for our citizens, and I would rather have had this opportunity for this purpose. I also opposed the apartments; I wanted all condos, feeling there would be more stability. It makes good sense to encourage professional businesses to locate here so our children do not have to go elsewhere to work.

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 have always been a supporter of the arts. I am delighted that the city authorized a feasibility study, and will be very interested to see where our niche in this field might be. The schools must be included in this decision, since the upkeep of a building will cost more than the building over time. We have many talented groups here, but we must be careful of what the rents might be. Not all of the groups can afford large rents, and they all certainly are entitled to perform here.

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

The city in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce must continue efforts to bring visitors to our city. I was on the council when Celebration Park was built, and those bonds were retired seven years early, saving our citizens thousands of dollars in interest. We could not have done this without the help of the out-of-town people. These visitors put money into our local businesses, which helps keep our property taxes down. We have many destinations spots here, and I believe we should promote all of them whenever and wherever possible. The Chamber has done an excellent job and the city must continue to do its part.

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

Our legislators have worked very diligently to obtain money for the Triangle Project. I feel this is the most important project we could do. However, it is also the most expensive project proposed. I don't believe the final plans have been developed yet, but it will be years in coming. In the meantime, our city is doing its best to try to keep up with the population growth. The summertime construction is sometimes annoying, but they are striving to move traffic as smoothly as possible, and I know we are not the only city facing this problem. I am thankful for each step that promotes improvements. I am very pleased that our problem with the water running over some of our major roads has been improved greatly. The Commons mall can be thankful for its dry roads. As former chair of the South King County Transportation Board, I saw the results of our working with other organizations to promote truck safety, such as on Highway 18, so that we can all get the merchandise these truckers bring to us and yet allow other traffic to flow.

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

The proposed annexation will allow the people of unincorporated King County to join Federal Way, where a great deal of them shop routinely. The proposed annexation will not benefit the city of Federal Way for some time, since the roads are not up to our standards and we will need to provide police coverage. I sincerely hope the annexation goes through and think that when it does, we should elect a council member from that location. I believe they have not been represented adequately for some time, and there are many good people there who would make excellent council members. The addition of the land would allow businesses that require more room, since Federal Way does not have a lot of open areas available.

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

The addition of a performing arts center would be a great way to stimulate economic development in Federal Way. The Chamber and the city are doing an excellent job of recruiting businesses, and I feel they must continue these efforts. Highline College and St. Francis Hospital are great draws for this city.

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

Celebration Park is the greatest accomplishment from my prior service on the City Council, and for the new term, I would hope economic development, a performing arts center and the ability to keep our parks serviced properly would be on my wish list.

Hope Elder: (253) 941-7939 or HopeElder2007@aol.com.

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