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Primary election candidate forum: City council, school board

Federal Way City Council primary candidates at the July 31 forum held at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club. Pictured left to right: Diana Noble-Gulliford (position 6), Martin Moore (position 6), Anthony Murrietta (position 2), Kelly Maloney (position 2), Mark Koppang (position 2). - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
Federal Way City Council primary candidates at the July 31 forum held at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club. Pictured left to right: Diana Noble-Gulliford (position 6), Martin Moore (position 6), Anthony Murrietta (position 2), Kelly Maloney (position 2), Mark Koppang (position 2).
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

Federal Way candidates for the 2013 primary election participated in a forum July 31 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club.

The forum was sponsored by The Mirror and featured candidates for Federal Way City Council positions 2 and 6, along with Federal Way School Board position 4. Candidates fielded questions from the audience. Below is a brief recap of their positions on some key issues.

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Federal Way City Council position 2

Candidates include incumbent Kelly Maloney, Mark Koppang and Anthony Murrietta.

Top issues that surfaced were the Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC), traffic, light rail and economic development.

Koppang supports the PACC, but that support is conditional. "We've got to be able to pay for this thing," he said. Koppang said the $32 million project is another opportunity to get people into the downtown core and "create a third place" where people can gather and spend an evening. "I'd like to see it happen."

Maloney would not answer yes or no, saying that she likes the idea of the PACC, but is concerned about the financial strain on the city. She wants to see more guaranteed money come through tax credits and grants. "I do not think the PACC is an economic driver," she said, noting that the project is more of an amenity.

Murrietta said he opposes the PACC because so many residents have told him they are against it. However, if the project moves forward while he's on the council, he will not be a detractor and will push for local contractors and laborers to build the facility.

Candidates were asked about a policy they would like to see that would attract/retain businesses.

Maloney said she wants a stricter focus on economic development, and said the city lacks the capacity to engage businesses to the fullest. She wants to work on the city's image through rebranding, and is pushing to bring a research college to the downtown core to "create synergy."

Koppang said he would continue to harness the energy that has helped reduce vacant office space in the past couple of years, and will continue to target companies to relocate to Federal Way.

Murrietta said he will focus on the city's traffic problems. "It's the one thing that impacts every resident in Federal Way," he said. Traffic keeps visitors and businesses away from Federal Way, he said. Less traffic will create an environment that gets customers into businesses. To help solve the traffic problems, Murrietta said he will work to get more monitoring for intersections as well as more technology. Maloney and Koppang noted the city already has many of these efforts in place to address traffic issues.

All three candidates highlighted their own service backgrounds. Koppang said he wants to improve what's already in place and work collaboratively with the council. He said his volunteer experiences have exposed him to multiple facets of life in Federal Way, giving him a personal and professional understanding of what the citizens need. Maloney said her past marketing work with the city has helped lure businesses and her initiatives have taken citizens forward. Murrietta said his experience as president of the Teamsters Local 763 union have taught him how to work with governments and municipalities through sometimes tense negotiations.

All three candidates agreed that the best alignment for light rail, if it comes to Federal Way, would be along I-5 to minimize disruption to businesses and infrastructure.

Learn more

Contact Kelly Maloney: retainkelly@kellymaloney.com

Contact Mark Koppang: koppangforcouncil@gmail.com

Contact Anthony Murrietta: AJforFederalWay@gmail.com

Click here to learn more about candidate endorsements and campaign finances.

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Federal Way City Council position 6

Candidates include incumbent Diana Noble-Gulliford, Martin Moore and Ryan Miller. Miller did not attend Wednesday's forum.

Noble-Gulliford said her experience is an asset after logging nearly 40 years of community involvement in Federal Way.

"I offer a unique blend of experience and knowledge," she said, adding that she wants to move Federal Way forward culturally and economically. "We have to address the poverty in the city… and have a downtown vision for economic development."

Moore said his love and passion for Federal Way are rooted in an upbringing by the family who adopted him as an orphan from Bulgaria.

"My background is just like Federal Way," he said, noting the immigrant groups represented in the city's population. Moore consistently reiterated his goal of listening and "working together" with the community. "We need a different style of leadership. … I'm going to be a spark plug for the city council."

Top issues that surfaced were the Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC), traffic, light rail and economic development.

Moore said he supports the PACC. "I'm 100 percent behind it," he said. "We've got to put something downtown that creates excitement. We've got to take risks. … Failure is not going to be an option."

Noble-Gulliford wants the PACC, but said the $32 million project is not the only solution for downtown. "I want it in Federal Way," she said. "The question is, at what price?" She supports the project "as long as it moves forward and makes sense."

Candidates were asked about a policy they would like to see that would attract/retain businesses.

Noble-Gulliford wants a full-time economic development director for the city whose sole focus is to help businesses stay, fill up stores, and reach out to new businesses. Moore said the city needs a marketer and a new branding image to show the region that Federal Way is open for business.

Both candidates support light rail and said the best route is to build it along I-5. They say with this route, there would be fewer problems and disruptions, and would include built-in advantages such as a parking garage (Moore said) and logical stations at 272nd St., 288th St., and 320th St. (Noble-Gulliford said).

Both said something must be done to improve traffic flow. Moore suggested trying ideas that work in other cities and gathering public feedback. Noble-Gulliford suggested that when adding more lanes to roads like 20th Ave. S. and S. 320th St., the city should include more pedestrian-friendly elements.

Learn more

Contact Diane Noble-Gulliford: diana@gulliford.com

Contact Martin Moore: electmartinmoore@gmail.com

Contact Ryan Miller: ryanmillerforcitycouncil@comcast.net

Click here to read more about the candidates' endorsements and campaign contributions.

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(Pictured at the July 31 forum: Medgar Wells, left, and K. Lance Barton)

Federal Way School Board position 4

Three candidates are competing for a soon-to-be-vacant seat on the school board: Carol Gregory, Medgar Wells and K. Lance Barton. Gregory was unable to attend due to a previously scheduled family vacation, and submitted a statement that was recited to the audience (see below).

Wells has spent his entire career in education and schools, starting as a custodian, then working as a teacher, principal and administrator.

"Education is my life," Wells said. "I've never been out of a school."

When asked what policy he would change, Wells said he would work to get more technology in the classrooms. Wells would also mandate that students who struggle are identified early. Wells' priorities are to help students maximize their potential. Students who struggle in elementary school will likely continue to struggle throughout their school career and would be more likely to drop out, Wells said.

When asked what policy he would change, Barton said he would address the district's grading system and common core standards. Barton said there is no single process that works for all students, and that the current system "is in place to have our kids in lockstep."

"I'm a lifelong learner," Barton said. "Every child should be able to go through a path that's best for them."

One question probed the candidates about their views on teaching gun safety classes in schools.

"Guns in schools just scare me," Wells said. He said a school's top priority is to make sure kids are protected, and he would support the enhancement of protections, rather than teaching about weapons. "It's not a good mix."

Barton took the opposite stance. He said a gun-free or gun-safe zone is more likely to attract crime. As an avid outdoorsman and a former Marine, he believes students should be familiar with how guns work by learning to handle them safely.

"I think guns are a tool," he said. "Guns should not be feared. … I think gun safety should be taught in schools."

The candidates were asked whether they supported school vouchers.

Barton supports them, saying that students who attend a "failing school" need an opportunity to go to a school that's doing well. Wells took the opposite stance, saying that schools need to do a better job with the money they have instead of "taking away money with vouchers" to private schools.

Wells and Barton both discussed a passion to serve the school district. Both candidates are working on a doctorate — Wells in education, and Barton in information technology. Both candidates promised not to be a "rubber stamp" on the school board. Both candidates agree that one of the district's more successful schools, the Federal Way Public Academy, should be expanded beyond grades 6 through 10.

Excerpt from a statement by candidate Carol Gregory, who was unable to attend Wednesday's forum:

My focus will be to:

Ensure that all students have the support necessary to succeed at the highest level.

Ensure that the community gets heard at school board meetings.

Ensure that money is spent wisely for the education of all students.

Eliminate opportunity and academic gaps that face students.

I think that we can all agree that the most critical part of a child’s education is the learning that occurs from the interaction and guidance between a student and teacher that is advised and supported by parents and community. It is the role of the school board to ensure that resources and support is provided so that effective learning can take place.

I have a strong background in education that prepares me for the task ahead. I have had a successful career as a public school teacher and administrator.  I have also served in education policy positions at the state and county level as well as representing Washington schools at the federal level. I have also represented teachers as President of the Washington Education Association. I know how to listen and evaluate data to make good decisions.

Learn more

Contact Medgar Wells: medgarwells@live.com

Contact K. Lance Barton: k.lance.barton@gmail.com

Contact Carol Gregory: gilgregory@comcast.net

Click here to read the candidates' answers to a questionnaire from The Mirror.

 

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