Letters to the Editor

Candidates must address poverty in Federal Way | Letters

Every city has characteristics and unique challenges that form a collective culture.

Within this culture, there are positive and negative elements. Crime obviously is a negative detractor while cultural programs, great schools, quality leisure activities and a strong business community focusing on middle to upper income jobs are positive elements most of us desire.

A major civic responsibility for residents of any city is the selection of elected officials. The quality of the electorate always is a factor on who is chosen, and voters ultimately determine with their choices whether a city succeeds, is mediocre or fails.

Federal Way is a young city in search of an identity and struggling to craft a cohesive vision and message that connects to a diverse and unsure electorate. It's a tough environment for leadership to take root and elected officials to take the necessary risks to build social, cultural, economic and physical infrastructure to support current residents while anticipating impacts of societal changes 20 years out.

We need to elect leaders who are collectively able to articulate a clear and strong future for this city.

If this election becomes a discussion about property crime, law and order, and an expression of citizens’ fears, it is a race to the bottom. Federal Way already spends over 50 percent of its general fund budget on its police department. Will more tax dollars spent on police help improve the city’s economic foundation, keep the businesses we have growing, and attract the new businesses and entrepreneurial citizens we need?

What voters need to hear from the candidates is their vision for addressing the poverty issues affecting South Puget Sound cities identified in the Brookings Institution report. How does our city communicate community values and concerns with our residents of varied cultural backgrounds? Does the city have any responsibility to address poverty and its effects as an issue?

We need to know why they support the development of the performing arts and conference center (PACC), and if they do not support it, what is their alternative and why is it better? It becomes tougher to have economic development and attract businesses and grow the tax base without a quality cultural infrastructure.

Our schools are a quality of life necessity for our residents and a major factor for businesses and families considering a move to our city. We need know what the candidates’ views are about how the city can support public education efforts within proper limits.

Do the candidates have any concerns about the changing caliber of our some of this city’s neighborhoods? Are they willing to develop a community outreach capability within each of the neighborhoods to build stronger bonds between neighbors and proactively encourage aesthetic improvements and proper maintenance?

Can they make a solid case for “Why Federal Way” in the present and help us see its future? Economic outreach and public relations are vital. I’d like to understand the candidates’ views on attracting corporations, businesses and potential residents to this city as well as ideas for growing the tax base.

I know that when cities choose to invest in themselves and build a quality community infrastructure that is inclusive of the arts, promotes education and has growth plans with a clear focus for the future, they succeed and tend to have stable growth-oriented tax bases.

With this election cycle, let's talk about ways to build a better future for this city and work toward making Federal Way the premier destination of the South Puget Sound.

Keith Livingston, Federal Way


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