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Federal Way mayor candidates offer ideas for stimulating the economy | ELECTION 2010
The Mirror is offering Federal Way mayoral candidates an opportunity to speak to readers in their own words. Below, the candidates answer the question: As a result of decreased tax revenue, Federal Way faces an estimated deficit of $4.5 million in 2011-2012. As mayor, what steps will you take to stimulate the city’s economy?
Linda L. Kochmar
Federal Way is a young city and needs to continue to develop its image and identity. It is the center of Western Washington and one of the more accessible communities in the region, yet other cities are better able to attract shoppers and businesses.
Government can encourage, but businesses and consumers need to feel that Federal Way is their best choice. As your mayor, I will bring leadership to make our city business and consumer friendly by instilling confidence. I will work with business leaders and citizens to provide opportunities for growth. I will create a marketing program to feature existing businesses as well as attract new ones. Kemper Freeman, the developer of Bellevue Square, recently said that Federal Way is the “best kept secret in Puget Sound.” We can no longer be a secret; we need to tell people why we are the best place to live and shop in Puget Sound.
As a city council member, I am proud of our efforts to improve the downtown. We changed the zoning, completed an environmental impact statement, a demographic study, and a tax exemption to encourage development. We purchased a 4-acre site to sell to a developer and we were awarded state “LIFT” funds of $1 million per year over a 25-year period for public improvements in the downtown as well as the foreign investor (EB-5) program to provide for funding from overseas investors. We’ve made the downtown attractive to businesses, but as your mayor I will make these improvements a success to stimulate our economy.
Fast facts: Kochmar was first elected to the city council in 1997, and was appointed mayor under the current form of government in January. She works as a risk manager with Lakehaven Utility District.
Federal Way has reached a financial crossroads. The city faces a looming budget deficit while also needing to take actions to spur economic development.
There is no easy answer. First and foremost, the city must examine its existing $40 million budget and ensure that every dollar is spent wisely. If elected, I'll implement a "priorities-of-government" budget approach that clearly identifies spending priorities and eliminates unnecessary spending. We simply cannot balance the budget on the backs of our struggling small businesses or our neighbors struggling to make their house payments. Make no mistake, this budget shortfall is not a blip and serious steps must be taken to address it.
Second, through its role in providing public infrastructure like roads and parks, the city can effectively promote economic development, particularly in our downtown core. These investments must be targeted to attract private investment and help achieve the community's long-term vision as a quality place to live and work. It is the mayor's critical responsibility to provide a clear rationale for these investments to both instill public trust and energize the community.
Third, the mayor must be an effective voice for Federal Way's economic goals. As mayor, I will continue to build on my existing relationships with local and regional organizations like the Puget Sound Regional Partnership, Enterprise Seattle, the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, and our own Chamber to champion economic growth. This leadership, coupled with the development of a "business friendly" City Hall environment, will create new jobs for our residents.
Fast facts: Priest served on the Federal Way City Council from 1991 to 1997, including two years as an appointed mayor under the city's current council-manager form of government. Priest was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2002. He will forgo re-election to the Legislature in order to run for mayor of Federal Way.
As your mayor, I will actively recruit businesses and organizations to invest in Federal Way.
We should also look for public investment in the form of a branch campus of a college. We need only look to the example of how Tacoma rebuilt its downtown through the investments made in UW Tacoma and Union Station. From those initial public investments, private investment followed.
In addition, my vision for the future of Federal Way includes:
• Crime-free public spaces. People will only invest in this community if they feel safe, which is why I have called for a police substation at the Federal Way Transit Center to address crime before it occurs.
• A central park or plaza downtown to build around and bring us together in times of community celebrations.
• A priority to ensure that businesses already here have their needs met, and that the city works with businesses to ensure continued success.
• Finally, a city government that operates efficiently and cuts waste wherever we can and redirects funds to core priorities. Our duty is to spend your tax dollars wisely and efficiently.
The role of city government is to provide a platform in which private enterprise can flourish. There are limits to what city government can do, however. We are not private enterprise and should not act as if we are. The city is responsible to provide a safe environment and the infrastructure necessary for all of us to live and work.
Fast facts: Ferrell was first elected to city council in 2003, then re-elected in 2007. Last fall, Ferrell led an effort with voters that created the elected mayor position. He works as a King County prosecuting attorney.
Our nation has faced the worst economic recession since 1941. This affects average families, forcing them to buy only the necessities and forego luxuries. This city is not exempt from this — we have a projected budget deficit of $5,000,000 in the coming years.
The only way for Federal Way to address this deficit is by creating new revenue through small business development, and I believe I am the only candidate able to take this challenge on from both sides, combining 30 years of experience as a successful small business owner with 15 years of experience setting the budget as Federal Way’s longest serving City Council member.
As a proven leader in small business development, I have brought businesses to Federal Way, creating new tax revenue and jobs for our citizens. I voted yes to the Twin Development project because it will bring 3000 jobs to our citizens and will support the existing small local businesses. This is an example of how I will continue being a problem solver for all citizens of Federal Way.
Another solution is to focus on the green and health care job sectors, which are not only in high demand, but also provide an invaluable service to our community along with high quality long-term employment.
As mayor, I will ensure Federal Way is fairly represented on both county and federal levels and I will continue to lobby for federal monies to improve our existing infrastructure and ensure Federal Way will receive the strong representation it deserves.
Fast facts: Park was appointed to the city council in June 1995, won re-election in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007, and served as Federal Way's mayor from 2000-2001 and 2006-2007. He owns Midway Cleaners in Kent.
The Mirror is offering Federal Way mayoral candidates an opportunity to speak to readers in their own words. Each candidate received a list of questions about their goals and vision.
Their answers will appear the next four Saturdays in The Mirror. A debate among the four mayoral candidates is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. July 19 at Federal Way High School.
Questions? E-mail email@example.com.