Federal Way Mirror Publisher Andy Hobbs, standing, speaks at the start of the candidate forum Wednesday evening as City Council Position 4 candidates Sharry Edwards, from left, Hoang Tran, Diana Noble-Gulliford and Jack Stanford wait to give their opening remarks. Courtesy Bruce Honda

Council candidates share ideas on shaping city’s future at forum

Residents will have a lot to ponder when casting their votes in the Aug. 1 primary to determine which two Federal Way City Council Position 4 candidates should advance to the general election.

Four candidates are currently running to fill the seat Deputy Mayor Jeanne Burbidge is vacating at the end of her term: Sharry Edwards, Hoang Tran, Diana Noble-Gulliford and Jack Stanford. To help voters decide, each answered a series of questions on different topics posed to them by audience members at the candidate forum hosted by the Federal Way Mirror Wednesday night.

Bringing economic development to the downtown core

Edwards: She would work with the economic development board and the Chamber of Commerce.

Noble-Gulliford: She would like to see the council work with chamber to attract Fortune 500 companies to Federal Way to replace the Weyerhaeuser jobs lost and bring high-paying jobs to the city.

Stanford: He supports embracing Sound Transit and the light rail and working with the agency in implementing its future plans, including possible housing in the downtown, while also promoting the downtown core and coming up with a plan moving forward. “We need to sit down with all the stakeholders and come up with a 20-year plan for Federal Way that embraces all of these aspects.”

Tran: He supports diversifying the city’s economy by bringing different sectors so Federal Way can remain vibrant.

Support private management of the Performing Arts and Event Center

Edwards: She said she is excited about the PAEC and believes the council needs to do all it can to help make it work. She said she only supports private management of the PAEC if it’s failing.

Noble-Gulliford: While she believes the PAEC is beautiful and a statement for the future of Federal Way, it is also a substantial investment of taxpayers’ money. “But I would prefer, if the issue ever came up, is that the city pursue hiring a professional firm that knows how to manage such facilities and develop a public/private partnership so that the burden of the expense that the taxpayers now have will be removed.”

Stanford: He said the PAEC is coming, and it is part of the city’s vision. He believes talk about private management is counterproductive. “All that’s talking about is we’re already gearing up to fail, and we don’t need to do that.”

Tran: He welcomes the PAEC but is concerned about how much the city will be subsidizing the facility. He said bigger government doesn’t mean better government, and he supports working with private companies to figure out what the best thing would be moving forward.

The city’s approach to homelessness and ideas

Edwards: She supports continuing to work hard to get a shelter in place for homeless mothers and children, specifically by partnering with Mary’s Place in Seattle to open a facility in Federal Way and providing wrap-around services for the families staying there.

Noble-Gulliford: She said the homeless issue isn’t just Federal Way’s problem and the opioid crisis, mental health and loss of financial support all contributes to the problem. She supports working with the state and the county to help address some of the health issues that contribute to homelessness while forming partnerships with the state, county and South King County cities to come up with a solid, long-term plan.

Stanford: He supports forming local partnerships to find solutions to the problem. “We all need to dig down deep and come up with solutions that maybe don’t just involve the city funding homelessness. … There are solutions out there, there’s been proposals out there. … We have a lot of nonprofits — we need to bring them in tight. We need to find solutions because right now the city doesn’t have the money to fund the shelter.”

Tran: He supports creating a safe place for children and mothers to stay. “The day center is a good start, but, as a city, we need to do more.”

Ideas to attract businesses

Edwards: She advocates working with the Chamber of Commerce and the city’s economic development department to come up with ideas and ensure everyone “is on the same page and we’re moving in the right direction.”

Noble-Gulliford: She said large corporations are looking for quality school districts, and she thinks the city should work with the school district and take measures to help increase test scores to attract large corporations. She also wants to make sure zoning and building requirements are in place to make sure “the city is open to business.”

Stanford: He wants to establish a broad-based economic council by partnering with not only the chamber, but other groups, such as investment firms and the fire and utility districts to make sure everybody is working toward a common goal and to eliminate push back. “The city doesn’t necessarily need to be a driver. It can be a partner.”

Tran: He believes it is not appropriate for the council to recruit businesses because that is the mayor’s job, but he thinks the council should help bring people together to get ideas on how to bring businesses to the city.

To watch the entire primary election forum, see the video below or go to the Federal Way Mirror’s Facebook page.

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