Leandra Craft and Jack Walsh. Courtesy photos

Leandra Craft and Jack Walsh. Courtesy photos

Q&A: Federal Way City Council Position 5 candidates

Incumbent Leandra Craft is challenged by Jack Walsh

The Federal Way Mirror asked Federal Way City Council candidates a few questions about their priorities and plans if elected. Read the Position 5 candidate responses below.

The Mirror’s 2021 candidate debate is from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 at the Twin Lakes Golf & Country Club. The event will be in-person and live streamed. Masks required.

Federal Way City Council Position 5 candidates:

Leandra Craft (incumbent)

Brief description of yourself: I grew up in Federal Way. It’s where my husband and I chose to buy our home and raise our daughter. I want to give back to the community which has given so much to me. That’s why I sought appointment to the Federal Way City Council last year, and why I am running to retain the seat. That is also why I serve as a King County deputy prosecutor, because every neighbor deserves safe and strong communities. On the Council, I have prioritized community safety, housing affordability, economic development, and recovery. I have earned the support of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, former Mayor Jean Burbidge, South King Fire Fighters and other essential workers, housing advocates, environmental leaders, Democrats, and more, but I would be most honored to earn your support. Together, we can build a vibrant, safe, and healthy Federal Way now, and for future generations.

Top three priorities, if elected?

Safe Communities — As a prosecutor, I have experience in working collaboratively with law enforcement, social service providers and community organizations to protect and promote the safety of every neighbor. On the council, I will continue to advocate for the resources, investments, training, and preventive strategies proven to build safe and healthy communities.

Livability & Opportunity — I want to ensure that our city remains affordable for longtime neighbors and young families new to the area alike. It is up to our City Council to push for workforce housing and protections so seniors can afford to stay in their homes.

Resilient Local Economy — As we recover from COVID, we can grow our city’s economy by attracting more businesses and uplifting our current locally owned small businesses. I will prioritize lifting up our local small businesses and bringing job training and apprenticeship programs to Federal Way to ensure our youth have a path to family wage jobs.

Why are you seeking a position on the Federal Way City Council?

I was appointed to the Federal Way City Council in October 2020 and am proud of my record supporting the development of a Housing Action Plan, leading conversations with unions and leaders about expanding apprenticeship programs, hosting a special Council meeting on transparency and reform in local policing, adding a DEI staff member to ensure the council applies policies with an equity lens, and passing hazard pay for workers.

It was an important start, but there is so much more to do to ensure that every neighbor feels safe in our community, that longtime neighbors and new families can afford to live and thrive here, and that our local economy recovers stronger, creating opportunity and contributing to the vibrancy of our city. I am eager to continue the work we have begun!

Aside from the pandemic, what is the largest issue impacting Federal Way residents and what do you intend to do about it?

As a councilmember, and on the campaign trail, I have had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of Federal Way neighbors about their priorities and in every conversation the health and safety of our community is the top concern.

In our house, my husband is a social worker serving homeless populations and I am a prosecutor often navigating cases connected to a lack of stable housing. From different perspectives, we see every day how financial instability, a shortage of affordable and stable housing at every level, and a lack of necessary mental health supports and addiction resources has exacerbated our homelessness crisis. That has resulted in an increasing number of neighbors living unsheltered, strained our service providers, and required police and fire to do the work of social workers and care providers.

I share the concerns and frustrations of many neighbors who want better for our community, and I believe that my experience as a prosecutor will be an important asset as the Council seeks policies and investments to lift our community up.

King County is planning to open two shelters for people experiencing homelessness in Federal Way in the coming months. Do you agree with the county’s approach, and how will you address homelessness in Federal Way, if elected?

Homelessness is a regional and complex issue that can only be addressed through a collaborative effort at the state, county and city level. I support additional shelter capacity across the county, including here at home, but want to ensure that neighbors living unsheltered in Federal Way have first access to local shelter beds, and that we are providing appropriate and adequate services and supports to help people transition out of supportive housing and get back on their feet. I will also ensure that our city is at the table making decisions about protecting the safety, health, and well-being of all our neighbors and communities.

With the incoming Sound Transit Link Light Rail route coming to town, Federal Way has development opportunities on the horizon. What will you do to make Federal Way a desirable place to live and work?

As Federal Way welcomes Light Rail, there will be an opportunity to create a more defined downtown space for our City, and ensure that space meets the needs of our growing community. It is up to our City Council to push for workforce housing connected to transit, which will help keep Federal Way affordable for seniors looking to stay in their homes and young families like mine.

I believe light rail is also an opportunity to grow our City’s economy by attracting more businesses and driving more business to our locally owned small businesses who have been struggling through COVID. Together, we can ensure Federal Way remains a vibrant community, while at the same time a hub for opportunity for all.

Jack Walsh

Brief description of yourself: I am a 36-year resident of Federal Way. I am a husband and the father of five children (all attended and graduated from the Federal Way Public Schools) and the grandfather of nine. I hold a BA in communications from Brigham Young University. I began my professional career as a newspaper reporter and editor, but have spent most of my life in sales, marketing and public relations. For the last 10 years, my wife Judy and I have owned and operated Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream. During that time we have employed nearly 150 young people. For most, it was their first job. The business has given me the opportunity to generously support schools, teams, churches and a variety of nonprofits in their fundraising efforts. I am actively committed to making our community a better place. For 16 years I helped organize the annual Parks Appreciation Day. My volunteer activities include currently serving on the City of Federal Way Human Services Commission and volunteering at the Federal Way Senior Center Food Bank.

Top three priorities, if elected?

1. Making Federal Way a safe place to live, work and raise a family. We must support law enforcement. This includes demanding that our legislators immediately fix the very flawed laws they passed that have effectively handcuffed the police and prevented them from enforcing the law. It is critical that we provide the police department with the funding needed to attract and retain quality men and women. There is no place for an appointed police oversight commission. Oversight of the police is vested in the elected city council and mayor.

2. Address the homeless living on streets and encampments. Although there are challenges with housing affordability, the homelessness situation must be recognized for what it is: primarily an addiction and mental health crisis.

3. Promote the local economy. We must make Federal Way a desirable place for businesses to locate. Businesses provide jobs and increase the tax base. Addressing the top two priorities are the first steps to promoting the economy. In addition we must streamline the permitting process and make Federal Way an example of a business friendly city.

Why are you seeking a position on the Federal Way City Council?

The City of Federal Way is going in the wrong direction. It is time for a major correction. We need people on the city council who stand up for the residents of Federal Way and for the business community that provides jobs and fuels our local economy. Most of the people currently on the council are employed in the public sector, working for the government, and have never signed the front of a paycheck. The current city council bows to the whims of the county and the state rather than doing all possible to stand up for the best interests of our community. There are other things I would much rather be doing, but I feel it is my duty to step up and serve the community

Aside from the pandemic, what is the largest issue impacting Federal Way residents and what do you intend to do about it?

I refer back to my first priority: making Federal Way a safe place to live, work and raise a family and taking the actions that I outlined above.

King County is planning to open two shelters for people experiencing homelessness in Federal Way in the coming months. Do you agree with the county’s approach, and how will you address homelessness in Federal Way, if elected?

​​I absolutely disagree with King County’s approach. They imposed their own ideas on us without even seeking community input. Federal Way became a city 25 years ago in order to gain greater independence. Now the county with its Seattle-centric ideas is ignoring the desires of suburban cities. To make things worse, only 15% of the 101 rooms in the Extended Stay need to be filled by the “local” homeless, many of whom in reality have recently come to Federal Way. The other 85% can be imported to Federal Way from Seattle and other areas. This compounds the problem of drug abuse and its related crimes. It is also located in one of the worst possible locations for housing the addicted homeless — in our downtown core, next to an apartment complex with young families and less than three blocks from an elementary school. And it will not be open to homeless families — only to adults over 25. The “housing first” model has a dismal record for effectively treating addiction and mental illness. Although services may be available, “housing first” enables addiction and disincentivizes the addicted and mentally ill from seeking treatment. Homelessness must be addressed by coupling housing with accountability.

With the incoming Sound Transit Link Light Rail route coming to town, Federal Way has development opportunities on the horizon. What will you do to make Federal Way a desirable place to live and work?

The excess property surrounding the light rail station will be an ideal location for businesses that will bring needed jobs and revenue to Federal Way, but unless we actively negotiate with Sound Transit, 80 percent of it will be dedicated to low-income housing. We already have a disproportionate amount of low-income housing. The city must be actively engaged now in negotiations. We are at a crossroads. If we are not aggressive and proactive, the downtown core can become a blight that will dictate a dismal future for our community. On the other hand, there is unprecedented opportunity for the area from the Federal Way Commons to the Hillside Plaza to become a vibrant office, retail and residential center that will improve the quality of life for the entire community. I will work with the council, the mayor and the city staff to address the law enforcement and homelessness issues, streamline the permitting process and actively court businesses to come to Federal Way. With these actions, Federal Way will have a bright future.




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