Katherine Festa: Federal Way City Council Position 7

Q&A with council candidate.

Katherine Festa

Katherine Festa

Why are you running for office?

I want to see every resident of Federal Way thrive. I’m running because I want our homeowners, renters and visitors to see the best of this city that I have loved for 25 years — a city that is diverse, inclusive and right in the center of things. Meeting this goal means tackling the problems we face head on and actively preparing for the rapid growth our city is experiencing.

My background in government policy work as a housing and outreach coordinator with King County, prepares me to turn ideas into policy from day one. I am also passionate about ensuring that the political process, especially the budgeting process, is open and accessible to all.

You deserve to know where your money is being spent. I have 17 years of working with government budgets in my role with King County and served as chair, board member and treasurer of the King County Employee Giving Program for 10 years where I managed a program that reached over 14,000 King County employees and donated nearly $2 million to over 900 nonprofits.

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

Transportation.

Federal Way is centered between major areas of commerce and connected to the region by both I-5 and Pacific Highway. Our residents and our employers require and deserve fast, reliable and fair transportation that keeps pace with the region’s growth.

As a daily bus commuter and a former contract manager on the Metro Transit tunnel, I’m the ideal candidate to advocate for Federal Way residents to assure that Sound Transit stays on schedule and on budget.

Sound Transit’s current plan to add an additional 400 parking spots to the Federal Way Transit Center is simply not enough. The new light rail trains need to be accessible to all members of our ever-growing community. I’ve written letters and gone to Sound Transit’s informational meetings to advocate for these exact items.

What steps should the city take to address homelessness?

Homelessness is a regional problem and requires regional solutions. The city needs to utilize connections with other cities and aggressively pursue funding through the county and state for specific projects.

I have spent time understanding the many varied root causes of homelessness. I have regularly participated in the annual All Home Homeless Count, for which I received an honorary award from King County for my leadership and outreach efforts. And I have helped two different homeless women become drug free and get jobs. They both now live successfully in the community.

Federal Way should partner with local nonprofits to provide a supportive housing model to address families that need additional help getting back on their feet. I am also passionate about ensuring that no veteran is homeless and support housing models that specifically target vets. The supportive model reduces hospital visits, fire and police calls. It is essential that we plan on a scale that our infrastructure can maintain; I support a 50 unit or less model.

As a housing expert with 17 years experience, I am the candidate who knows how to implement targeted housing solutions.

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

Our business community cannot thrive if our city is not safe. I’ve spent three years participating in the Federal Way Chief of Police’s advisory call and I fully support adding additional officers to the force. A safe and peaceful community is one where businesses want to do business.

The city needs to be active in recruiting businesses to Federal Way by focusing and improving on the unique assets we have. We also need to make it easier for businesses to move here. One way to do this is to help business with the complicated process of applying for permits. If possible, we need to simplify the permitting process. As we recruit new businesses, we need to ensure that the businesses that are here can stay and succeed. We need to be working to ensure that those businesses that are being displaced by Sound Transit’s light rail expansion are able to relocate within Federal Way.

I also support partnering with unions to provide apprenticeship and labor training opportunities here in Federal Way to ensure that employers can find skilled labor within the city and residents can access living wage jobs.

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