Linda Kochmar: Federal Way City Council Position 7

Q&A with council candidate.

Linda Kochmar

Linda Kochmar

Why are you running for office?

The city of Federal Way is facing critical issues that require sound financial decisions. This is why I am running for City Council. My experience and knowledge of how city government works should be very helpful at this time. I previously served the citizens of Federal Way as a council member, deputy mayor, mayor, and as a 30th District state representative. I’ve served on many regional and state committees as well as boards, including the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Sound Cities Association, both of which directly impact the city of Federal Way.

In addition, I’ve travelled to Washington D.C. seven times on behalf of the city to help obtain $12 million in transportation funding, and as a state representative I helped obtain approximately $10 million for the community. I’ve voluntarily served on boards involving the school district, community groups and groups serving the homeless. I am deeply concerned about the crime, drug addiction, and homelessness affecting our city. We need to address affordable housing for the middle-income, and the city’s current budget deficit. I believe that I have the knowledge, skills, experience and ability to help to try to resolve the serious issues impacting our community.

What is the biggest challenge currently facing Federal Way and how will you address that issue as a council member?

While most people will say that crime is the biggest challenge facing our city, I believe the city’s financial demands are the biggest challenge. The city cannot commit to providing services or staff time for crime and homelessness when indebtedness is dragging down the city’s level of service for all sectors, including public safety. As a council member, I would encourage holding workshops similar to the ones that the city of Kent is currently conducting to inform the community of the budget deficit and to ask citizens to prioritize how their money should be spent.

Cities are currently restricted by the 1% property tax limitation, however there are other sources of revenue that can be explored. These should be explained, including any pros and cons connected with the new revenue sources, and the citizens should be invited to give their input. Financial sustainability is crucial to the health and well-being of any city. Also, we need to address our issues in a regional manner by meeting with our neighboring cities to discuss issues of mutual concern, such as homelessness. We don’t need more studies; we need compassion with action to solve our problems in a regional manner.

What steps should the city take to address homelessness?

First and foremost, we need to focus on helping families remain in their homes. We have community groups and churches that provide meals for those in need as well as the Multi-Service Center, which supplies a food pantry, but many families on fixed incomes also need help with their utility bills. Additionally, we need to provide alternatives for individuals on drugs, which in turn fuels homelessness.

The Federal Way Day Center furnishes services to the homeless during the day, but we need a night shelter. Crime, drug addiction and homelessness are all intertwined and are problems facing not just Federal Way, but the entire region. Some cities have an embedded social worker with the police to work with individuals to provide an alternative to jail. An addict who wants to get clean needs an advocate to help navigate where to find services. FUSION is currently working with the county and state to provide beds for homeless families, however, we also need beds for single adults. And we need a local crisis center call line so that community members can find help within the community. We also need to work with the courts to provide accountability for those who commit misdemeanors.

What would you do as a council member to help the city attract new business?

I would figuratively hang a sign that says “We’re Open for Business” and then hold a summit with the Chamber of Commerce, business leaders, developers and realtors to discuss what is impacting development in Federal Way. The chamber states the problem is permitting, realtors say schools, developers say impact fees. We need to look at the regulations impacting growth, we need to partner with the developers to encourage building condominiums for first-time homebuyers, we need to work with the schools to help improve test scores, and we need community involvement to let the council know how citizens want the city to grow.

I believe Federal Way was built by Weyerhaeuser to provide affordable housing for their employees. We need to continue to provide affordable housing, and work on zoning to break up the super blocks in the downtown core to provide for a walkable community, which is attractive to developers. We have beautiful parks as well as areas on Puget Sound, and wonderful volunteers willing to get involved. The Sound Transit Light Rail system can be a catalyst for growth and we need to be smart about how to develop and market that we are open for business.

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