Linda Kochmar: Federal Way City Council Pos. 7

‘“I’m a little astounded at what has happened to the city since I left the council.’

Linda Kochmar, who is vying for the Federal Way City Council Pos. 7 seat against Tony Pagliocco, recently sat down with the Mirror to answer the following questions:

What motivates you to run for this position on the council?

A former Federal Way mayor, Kochmar served on the Federal Way City Council for 14 years. She also served as state representative for four years for the 30th District.

“I’m a little astounded at what has happened to the city since I left the council,” she said. “When I left the council, we had a balanced budget. We did not have a proliferation of panhandlers on the street or people living in the woods.”

While she served on the council, businesses were attracted to Federal Way and the city had “decent” economic growth despite the downturn.

With her past experience in local and state goverment, she has much to offer the city as a council member.

“I do know where the pots of money are buried and I’m able to advise the council on how to advise for grants.”

She would also bring a level of maturity to the council “that might be needed at this time.”

What skills or experience would you bring to the council?

During her time on the council, went back to Washington, D.C. seven times to lobby for money for the city. She secured $12 million for road improvements, which went towards the interchange near Costco.

As a state legislator, she successfully lobbied for $4 million for the Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center, $1.2 million for the Redondo boardwalk and $1 million for Highline College.

Describe your top three objectives and how you plan to address those issues.

Crime, homeless and business are the top three issues facing the city. To solve those, the city needs to adjust its budget problems.

“Crime may mean more officers on the street, however, I think it also means a combination of officers with partnership with our business leaders.”

For example, she said the city of Burien has a navigation team that goes out to address homelessness, called Action with Compassion.

“A lot of the homelessness is due to drug addiction, so they have a navigation team that consists of human services folks … police, and they actually go out … and talk to the homeless.”

She said to attract and retain businesses, the city needs to solve the homeless and crime problem.

“People walking out of our stores with shopping carts full of groceries, loitering in front of businesses,” she said, noting she’s talked to many businesses about these problems. “They want action, they want something done. Our folks need to be feeling safe in their neighborhoods.”

What are your top concerns about public safety and what steps would you take to address these concerns, if elected?

She likes the idea of the city having a navigation team like the city of Burien’s program.

She said the city should also address the prosecution component, and she praised the city’s Community Court that helps offenders turn their lives around.

“I think it needs to be a whole partnership with the business, with the public safety and with the courts.”

How should Federal Way improve economic development and attract businesses?

The city has historically had small businesses, and Kochmar wants to ask those businesses what challenges they are facing so that the city may address those issues and retain those businesses.

“Some of them are having problems because they simply go in to get a permit to remodel a kitchen, and then they find out that that triggers some parking lot improvements, which they can’t afford.”

She would also like to find out how the city can attract larger businesses.

“To attract business, I think you need to go visit them and invite them.”

Is the city’s permitting process effective and, if not, what are your solutions to improve this process?

She cited a recent Federal Way Chamber of Commerce survey, which noted that permitting was the second-biggest challenge for many Federal Way businesses.

She said part of the permitting problem is the length of time it takes the city to process a permit.

“If you go back to the budget, solve the budget problem because we probably need more people on staff to process the permits because three years for a permit is way too long.”

Do you support cannabis retailers opening in Federal Way? Why or why not?

“We need to be fully educated about opening marijuana shops. If a person needs medical for cannabis, that’s one issue, and I don’t have a problem with that.”

She wants to know more about the zoning requirements and the state licensing process for retail stores in the city.

“So it’s more than just a simple question of do you support or not support. You need to understand what you’re supporting.”

Homelessness has been an ongoing issue in Federal Way. What is your plan to address it?

“I don’t think we should be ignoring the issue. It’s like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. If you go in and you say, ‘You have to leave here, take all your belongings and go,’ and there on the streets with their shopping carts full of their belongings … They’re going to go to the next area until they get kicked out of that.”

The city needs a program that helps those who choose to accept the help.

“If you choose to accept it, we will help you. If you do not, you may be arrested for an outstanding warrant … or we will help you go back to where you came from. But we can’t have it continue.”

She said the city also needs sheltering options for single adult males and females, as well as for severe weather.

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