Federal Way City Council Pos. 6 candidates Renae Seam (left) and Jack Dovey (right). Courtesy photos

Federal Way City Council Pos. 6 candidates Renae Seam (left) and Jack Dovey (right). Courtesy photos

Q&A: Federal Way City Council Position 6 candidates

Former mayor Jack Dovey is challenged by newcomer Renae Seam.

The Federal Way Mirror asked Federal Way City Council candidates a few questions about their priorities and plans if elected. Read the Position 6 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 6 candidates:

Renae Seam

Brief description of yourself: I’m a first-generation American born to immigrant parents who’ve made Federal Way their home for over 30 years. Having lived in Federal Way my entire life, I’ve witnessed the changes to our city over the years including the population growth and all the challenges that come with it. I have a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in business and data analytics where I specialized in financial analytics to raise awareness to the importance of financial stability in our communities. Currently, I work at a local financial institution as a financial risk and data analyst where I focus on building fiscal products that best serve the community while balancing risk mitigation strategies. Previously, I worked at Microsoft’s Center of Intelligence where I focused on geopolitical risk analysis on a global level. In order to give back to the community that has supported me through the years, I serve on the Board of Directors for the local nonprofit, Communities in Schools, and remain an active volunteer with the Lion’s Club. Overall, Federal Way is, and always has been, my community… my home; a place that welcomed my immigrant parents and allowed me to grow to the person I am today.

Top three priorities, if elected: First and foremost, I will prioritize efforts on safety and crime reduction by ensuring our police to population ratio is conducive to the population growth in the city as well as balancing with proactive and holistic crime mitigation strategies. We also need to work with our police department to engage in more universal racial sensitivity and special needs training. Second, there is a need to address the rising rate of homelessness by advocating, implementing, and focusing the need for mental health and chemical dependency programs to get to the root causes of homelessness. Finally, I will focus on eliminating wasteful spending to best utilize taxpayer dollars in the most efficient way possible so we can fund necessary programs that address the concerns of residents and serve the needs of the community. Federal Way is a great city but as we grow, we must focus on all three of the previously stated priorities coupled with the need to invest in our next generation and support existing/new businesses as we recover from COVID.

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

Because I work for a local financial institution, I saw our neighbors financially struggle from the effects of COVID almost immediately when the pandemic began. From single parents, to seniors, people of color, immigrants, and working class people… everyone was hurting. I chose to run because we need someone on Council with a background in finance who can bring these lived experiences of financial instability to the forefront. Every last tax dollar that goes to the city is valuable — and as a Councilmember, it’ll be my job to ensure it’s spent wisely — by putting that money into the very issues that matter to you the most; homelessness, public safety, and economic development to name a few. My choice to run for office hinged on the fact that as I see this city grow, I see crime increasing, the rate of homelessness rising, the need for business growth, and the importance of retaining talent in our local economy. Federal Way has always been my home; I know what it means to have grown up in this city, gone to school, and worked here, so I want to ensure there is growth that represents all communities.

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

Public safety coupled with the growing rate of homelessness are top of mind concerns for our residents. I intend to take a data-driven, pragmatic approach to the issue with a few key points. It’s critically important that we have enough police officers to serve our city. This needs to be balanced with officers who understand our community and the challenges that our neighbors face. For homelessness, we need to focus on expanding access to mental health and chemical dependency programs to get to a few of the core causes of homelessness. If we don’t address the root causes of crime, it will continue to impact business growth and economic development as it drives away tourists, visitors, and long-term residents. As a growing city, Federal Way must hear our residents and address the growing concerns with actionable and concrete strategies. More than ever, it is vital to be understanding of residents and our most vulnerable, data-driven, evidence-based, pragmatic, balanced, and actionable.

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 understand the frustration and confusion in response to the Health for Housing program being implemented by the county. I believe King County should have engaged residents in the conversation before buying the hotels. Nonetheless, the rising rate of homelessness is a regional issue that needs concrete solutions. As a result, we need to act quickly to address the matter with an approach that is data-driven, evidence-based, and realistic. I am against building a community that is conducive to the usage of drugs so it’s imperative that these hotels are staffed with critical mental health and chemical dependency programs to not just house our vulnerable communities but also get at the root cause of homelessness. As a city, we need to consider possible security implementation around these locations to ensure residents feel safe and crime is mitigated. And finally, as an elected official, we need to focus on pipeline programs to jobs to allow for these individuals to support themselves long-term. I am committed to reducing homelessness within the confines of the law to address this epidemic which includes understanding resident concerns and addressing the situation with action, compassion, and balanced pragmatic approaches.

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?

Sound Transit brings a unique opportunity to reimagine the future of Federal Way. We can develop the downtown core to be a centralized place that is walkable, bikeable, and accessible for all of our diverse communities. We want a downtown that we can take pride in, a place with a sense of community, a reinvented mall, and business growth that’s conducive to the needs of the community. We need to utilize this opportunity to bring employers to Federal Way that can provide local career-based jobs so our residents can work and live close to home. We need to invest in jobs and training for the next generation so they can be ready to work beyond their high school career. Federal Way can also be re-envisioned to incorporate a STEM-focused technology hub to be a first-of-its-kind in the South King County region which will not only boost our local economy, but will create a cyclical benefit to our next generations while retaining local talent. Light rail access allows for more efficient travel throughout the region for all residents and I’m excited for the future of our community and all the possibilities Sound Transit will bring.

Jack Dovey

Brief description of yourself: My family moved to Federal Way since 1968. I graduated from Decatur High School in 1973. I graduated from Oregon State University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in geography. My wife Jennifer and I have been married for 44 year and have two children Jackson who is 37 and Jeneca who 33 who grew up in Federal Way. I own and run a manufacturing company that employees 31 people. I have served Federal Way as its mayor for two years and have been a City Council member for 12 additional years. During my elected years I was involved in building Celebration Park, starting the Federal Way Police Department, building City Hall, and the Community Center. I was fortunate to have served as committee chair of all City of Federal Way committees. During my past service I experienced two times Federal Way, had budget short falls and had to make decisions to let people go and reduce the city’s budget. This is experience no other candidates have had. I believe it is very valuable to have served during bad times and not just good ones When I left elected service I served as the president of the Federal Way Caregiving Network.

Top three priorities, if elected:

1. Hire new and retain current police officers. I believe we need 13 to 15 additional officers.

2. Develop a plan with the other council members, and the mayor, to stop the illegal homeless camps in Federal Way, then execute it.

3. Make sure our current downtown zoning is compelling for new developers to launch new development in Federal Way, and to make sure House Bill 1220 does not affect our neighborhoods.

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

I decided to run because there was a meeting the council had to begin a police oversight board in Federal Way. I felt this was a bad idea. We need more police officers, not less, and we surely should not defund the Federal Way Police Department. I strongly support our police officers, the police lieutenants and the Federal Way Police Officers Guild have endorsed my campaign. I believe with my 14 years of experience I will provide strong council leadership.

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

I believe the four top four issues are as follows:

1. Support the Police Department and let our officers work to battle crime in our city.

2. Stop the invasion of homeless camps and the people who live in them from continuing to make Federal Way a less safe place for our citizens and them. We need to stop the drug use and crime that is rampant in these camps.

3. Oppose King County and reverse the plans to populate Federal Way with additional homeless people in two of our local hotels, which the county has purchased.

4. Improve the zoning codes so developers will want to build building new business will want to locate to from Seattle and other surrounding areas.

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?

This is a bad decision for Federal Way. The city has had very little say in the process, two of the income producing hotels will go off the tax rolls and our police and fire departments may see large surges in service requirements. Homelessness has to be separated between substance abusers and people who in need of basic help due to circumstances other than addictions The council will need to work with existing organizations like the Union Gospel Mission, local churches, public health, AA, mental health organizations, Federal Way local charities and the school district to come up with a good plan to deal with the problem.

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?

Federal Way needs to have strong market rate dwelling units in the downtown core for people looking for better places to live than downtown Seattle. I will work to increase the zoning height restrictions, oppose low income apartment building, and ask our mayor and Economic Director actively sell the benefits of developing in Federal Way to developers around King County and the State. I also think the City of Federal Way will need to get creative in selling the downtown Target Property to a developer.

Editor’s note: This story was abridged for print. Read the complete Q&A with these candidates at federalwaymirror.com.

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