Incumbent Mark Koppang, who is vying for the Federal Way City Council Pos. 5 seat against Jamila Taylor, recently sat down with the Mirror to answer the following questions:
What motivates you to run for this position on the council?
“I’ve always found ways to serve … it’s part of my DNA. I just really have enjoyed finding ways to add value wherever I’ve been whether it’s been in church or in school or it’s just been in the community. I’ve always found a way to participate and be a part of the solution.”
A few years ago, he looked to serve on the council as an opportunity to bring a new perspective to the council that he didn’t see at the time.
What skills or experience would you bring to the council?
Koppang said his strong listening skills coupled with his business background allows him to view city issues from a different perspective than anyone else on the council.
“In the end, I think there’s a lot of business experience that applies very effectively to what we’re trying to do as a city. I look at the city [as a] corporation with a number of different companies that work under the umbrella of the city. So understanding how business works can help fashion policy that creates a path forward for every organization in the city to be as effective as possible.”
Describe your top three objectives and how you plan to address those.
For anyone who has watched Koppang’s performance on council throughout the last few years, it should be no surprise that public safety is at the top of his priorities, he said.
“… One of the things I’d like to see us do is bring the total number of officers up to 140. I think that getting to 1.4 officers per 1,000 is important for us from the standpoint that we have a police staff that really is stressed and working hard. I’d like to have a little bit more coverage in the city to address some of the issues we’re facing.”
Another objective of his is continuing to create a downtown “that actually works.” Another factor of the process is being prepared for incoming Sound Transit projects. He looks forward to working on policy, zoning and city preparedness with the council “so we don’t get run over by the trains, so to say, when they do arrive.”
His third objective is economic development because it is important “that they have a good sense that they can make an investment in our city and be successful long term … ”
What are your top concerns about public safety and what steps would you take to address these concerns, if elected?
“There are a lot of good things happening in Federal Way and I think that overall, we’re a pretty safe community. But there are some issues that are facing our community, like any other community in South King County and homelessness is one of them.”
The city needs to look at how to create a compassionate solution for the homeless while preserving the rights of the people in Federal Way.
How should Federal Way improve economic development and attract businesses?
Economic development is difficult to quantify until it occurs.
Citing a recent Mirror article that noted three businesses leaving Federal Way, Koppang said “businesses are going to continue to leave Federal Way, but the good news is that I think we’ve got more businesses coming … so businesses come here for the reasons they come here.”
One of those main reasons is the prime location between Tacoma and Seattle.
Is the city’s permitting process effective and if not, what are your solutions to improve the process?
When reading certain stories, you can’t help but question the city’s permitting process, Koppang said.
The industry standard for permit turn-around time is approximately 90 days.
“We’ve been able to turn around permits within 45 to 90 days, assuming they come in complete … We [the city] have high standards and those high standards actually protect the taxpayers in the case of buildings that are built for the use of the citizens. … Having those high standards has allowed us to have the type of construction that is desirable long term.”
Do you support marijuana retailers opening in Federal Way?
“When the question of legalization came up on the ballot, I voted against it … because I didn’t think that we fully understood all of the implications of legalization.”
Revisiting the issue with the prospect of opening stores, Koppang will “absolutely respect the vote of the people.” While cannabis stores in surrounding cities may have debunked some myths about the benefits or harm, Koppang said he believes the revenue case has been “dramatically overstated.”
Homelessness has been an ongoing issue in Federal Way. What is your plan to address it?
“As a city, we can’t just respond to every passionate plea. We really do need to look at what our resources are and how we can be effective, either implementing solutions ourselves or identifying partners that can assist us in addressing the needs of the homeless.”