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ELECTIONS: Federal Way City Council candidates talk economic development, job creation
Economic development and job creation were the big topics as Federal Way City Council candidates voiced their views at two forums Oct. 5.
The Federal Way Chamber of Commerce hosted the candidates at its membership luncheon, then teamed up with The Mirror for an evening forum at Federal Way High School.
Position 3: Susan Honda vs. Roger Flygare
Susan Honda and Roger Flygare are running for the city council seat being vacated by Mike Park.
Honda is a longtime community volunteer who has held leadership posts involving the PTA, Diversity Commission and Arts Commission, among others. Honda said her top priority is to change the perception of Federal Way for businesses and residents. “What image do we want to project?” she asked.
Honda said she will focus on developing the downtown area and fostering a more business-friendly community. She presented an idea of starting neighborhood community councils where residents “could come to the city as one voice.” Honda said this cooperation could train future leaders and create a more positive perception of Federal Way.
Honda wants to use her 30-plus years of experience in city affairs to continue building relationships and “show we’re open for business in Federal Way.” Honda wants to examine zoning in the city to remove any barriers for businesses to come here. She also proposed a visitors center for Federal Way.
Following military service in Vietnam, Flygare spent three-plus decades in the court reporting business. Flygare highlighted his experience in building budgets and understanding profit-loss statements.
“I’ve been in business 32 years,” he said. “I’m a successful businessman. Otherwise, I’d be out of business.”
Flygare wants to maintain current businesses while bringing new businesses to Federal Way and complementing the future Crystal Palace, a mixed-use site slated for downtown. Flygare wants to focus on parks and amenities such as the community center, along with popular family events like the Federal Way Farmers Market and Fourth of July celebration. Flygare said one path to job creation is to reach out to businesses through trade shows and conventions in Federal Way. As for the perception of crime in Federal Way, Flygare said block watch programs could be one key to creating safer neighborhoods.
On the issue of term limits for council members and the mayor, Flygare said he opposes them, while Honda did not take a stance. Both candidates said any annexation attempt east of Federal Way should be decided by voters.
On saving money in the city budget, Flygare suggested that medical coverage for city employees must be reduced, and said he has observed a positive trend in sales tax revenue in the August expense report. Honda also indicated that medical benefits were on the table, but that no programs can be cut.
Both candidates support the future performing arts and civic center. Honda said now is the time to build it. Flygare called the center a jewel that can attract more businesses, create more jobs and bring more tax dollars to Federal Way.
As for the projected population growth in Federal Way, Flygare emphasized the need for more mass transit. Honda said the city must be prepared to accommodate the extra population with water, sewer and roads.
Position 5: Jack Dovey vs. Bob Celski
Jack Dovey, the incumbent, was first appointed to the council in 1995 to fill a vacant position. He elected to that position in 1996. After a hiatus, he returned to the council in 2003, following an appointment to a vacant seat. He was re-elected in 2007. Dovey co-owns a chain of Bluewater Wireless stores in the region.
Bob Celski is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the U.S. Army for more than a decade. Celski spent 15 years in the petroleum industry in management and executive positions, and has been running his own small business in Federal Way as a business consultant, nutrition coach and property manager. He presently works for IPC (USA) in Tacoma.
Dovey said he brings valuable business experience.
“I’m one of those guys that can get things done,” said Dovey, pointing to past accomplishments including a committee that made Celebration Park a reality in the 1990s. As for economic development, Dovey said the city must be more flexible in zoning while doing everything in its power to attract businesses and entrepreneurs. Dovey said he will continue to help build business clusters, including those involved with a medical device incubator called Cascadia MedTech Association, which he helped launch. He said these business clusters are key to creating more jobs that pay living wages in Federal Way.
As for changing a so-called perception that Federal Way has a high crime rate, both Celski and Dovey noted the importance of neighbors getting to know one another and establishing neighborhood resources/block watches.
As for cutting the city budget, Dovey noted recent savings from lower-cost insurance for city employees. He said bringing in more businesses, as opposed to cutting programs and services, is the way to go. Celski said he has analyzed the city’s revenues and expenses. He said the city employees’ overall benefits are too generous and due to increase in cost.
Both candidates support a future performing arts and civic center. Both stressed the need to “do it right” and turn it into a successful business.
Among Federal Way’s biggest challenges is changing the city codes that are neither friendly nor viable to businesses, Celski said. Dovey said sales tax leakage is the biggest problem, and the city needs to get more residents shopping in Federal Way.
Celski said safe neighborhoods are critical to raising Federal Way’s quality of life as well as giving businesses a reason to locate here. “You can’t have a good quality of life unless you feel safe,” he said. Dovey said the key to raising quality of life is to engage citizens to get them involved with activities such as mentoring, community gardens and the farmers market, for example.
As for term limits on council members and the mayor, Dovey said he would only support term limits if residents voted for them. Celski supports term limits because he believes potential candidates are dissuaded from running for elections because of the cost.
Dovey opposes any annexation attempt of unincorporated King County east of I-5 because “it’s a money-losing deal” for public services. Celski said annexation is up to those citizens, but said the area would fit better in Federal Way than Auburn. “It would be good for our tax base,” Celski said.
Position 7: Dini Duclos vs. Keith Tyler
Dini Duclos, who is CEO of the Multi-Service Center, was first elected to the council in November 2007. She was appointed deputy mayor in January 2010. Challenging her is political newcomer Keith Tyler, a 10-year resident of Federal Way who works in technology and computer science.
Duclos noted her work with the Multi-Service Center, building the charity from a $3 million budget to a $15 million budget. She has also served on several city boards including the Planning Commission and has experience in fundraising for large projects such as Celebration Park.
Duclos’ top priority is the completion of a performing arts and civic center, which through a public-private partnership can open doors for the community and spark downtown development. Such a facility, she said, will expose residents and especially youth to arts and culture that they may not have otherwise found.
Duclos also sees synergy among multiple ideas for downtown projects alongside the arts center, including a veterans memorial and the proposed Crystal Palace, a mixed-use facility.
“Small businesses really do anchor our community,” she said, lauding a pair of business incubators such as SSRBI and Cascadia MedTech Association.
As for term limits, Duclos does not oppose them: “I term limit myself.” Duclos is seeking one more term to finish what she started, she said. Tyler said he is against mandatory term limits: “If people don’t want you anymore, elect someone else.”
As for the city’s budget, Duclos said she will spend conservatively, control medical costs and work with the city’s businesses. Tyler said he will address the efficiency of city vehicles, for example, and find ways to do things cheaper — either in-house or by consolidating services.
Tyler said his experience in computers and technology give him the ability to solve problems. Among his top priorities are revising city codes that hamper businesses and act like roadblocks. “We need to make it so that businesses don’t have impediments,” he said, adding that relaxed sign codes can help “get people closer to businesses.”
Tyler supports the future performing arts and civic center and hopes it will attract more businesses to downtown Federal Way. It is a key component to improving Federal Way’s image and diversifying entertainment while attracting people from outside the community, he said. He favors increasing downtown density because of an outdated “suburban legacy” that is no longer an effective model for Federal Way.
Tyler wants to find ways to keep Federal Way residents in their own backyard when it comes to shopping, services and entertainment. “It should all be right here,” he said. Tyler said successful projects in neighboring cities, such as Kent Station and Renton Landing, indicate that the city has fallen behind. “Fear holds us back,” he said.
As for annexation of unincorporated King County, Duclos said it’s up to those citizens, and that if they say yes, their zoning should be grandfathered in. However, that area would not bring enough tax revenue, she said. Tyler said he is in favor of that section becoming a part of Federal Way.
As for battling a so-called perception of crime in Federal Way, both Duclos and Tyler suggested more proactive measures. Tyler said: “We need to give people reasons to look at us in a different light.” Duclos suggested more education about safety and locking doors, for example, teaching people how to protect themselves.
Contact council candidates (web, phone and email)
• Roger Flygare (position 3): www.vote4rogerflygare.com, (253) 661-2711, email@example.com
• Susan Honda (position 3): www.hondaforfw.com, (253) 838-0734, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Bob Celski (position 5): www.electcelski.com, (253) 925-5242, email@example.com
• Jack Dovey (position 5): www.jackdovey.com, (206) 730-2612, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Dini Duclos (position 7): www.diniduclos.com, (253) 740-0124, email@example.com
• Keith Tyler (position 7): www.tylerforcouncil.org, (206) 249-8368, firstname.lastname@example.org