Sharry Edwards, who is vying for the Federal Way City Council Pos. 3 seat against incumbent Susan Honda, recently sat down with the Mirror to answer the following questions:
What motivates you to run for this position on the council?
“I have spent my entire career volunteering in this community and working in this community as a nurse, in community health mostly and as a volunteer, raising my children here,” Edwards said. “I’m running for council because I believe that I can help make it a better place.”
What skills or experience would you bring to the council?
Edwards was chair of the Mayor’s Homelessness Task Force last year and has also done a lot of volunteer work with the homeless.
“It’s one of the biggest, most critical issues we are facing in this city right now that needs to be addressed.”
During her time on the task force, she learned a lot about the homeless issue from residents, business owners and homeowners, and how it’s affecting Federal Way.
“I have also been a volunteer, raised three children here, and volunteered with our school district to try to give back to our school system,” she said, noting she is very concerned about the future of Federal Way.
Describe your top three objectives if you are elected and how you plan to address those issues.
“Attracting good quality, livable wage jobs is number one, addressing the homeless issue … is number two, and public safety is number three.”
For example, Edwards said, Federal Way needs to support its law enforcement teams to help increase public safety.
“I’ve always been a real advocate for our officers wearing cameras as well as having more safe city cameras in the city,” she said. “I think the more that we can do to support law enforcement the better we’ll do to keep our city safe.”
What are your top concerns about public safety and what steps would you take to address these concerns, if elected?
During her time working on the homelessness task force, she spoke to a lot of residents and business owners and discovered a large heroin problem in the city.
“There is a new drug, fentanyl, that they’re cutting in to this heroin that’s deadly,” she said. It’s for this reason that Edwards believes the heroin crisis in Federal Way is the most important public safety concern to be addressed.
In fact, Edwards said this is one of the main reasons she is running for council.
“I feel that we need strong leadership that is really going to address this and see it for what it is,” she said.
How should Federal Way improve economic development and attract businesses?
With Sound Transit coming to Federal Way, Edwards recognizes that now is a great time to work on increasing the city’s economy.
“I’d like to see us attract good businesses with livable wage jobs.”
Is the city’s permitting process effective and, if not, what are your solutions to improve this process?
Edwards has heard from several businesses that the permitting process is not as effective as it could be, one of the main reasons being that most of it is apparently still on paper.
“We could be computerized like other cities are and that would make things more efficient.”
That way, whenever changes are made to someone’s permit application, it could be seen immediately in real time. Though it is more expensive, Edwards believes this will be more cost-effective over time.
“I think we could be more proactive and we could attract more businesses if we worked on the permitting process and helped support that department.”
Do you support marijuana retailers opening in Federal Way? Why or why not?
“Our voters voted an overwhelming no a few years ago by 60 percent not to sell retail marijuana in Federal Way.”
She does not support the message retail cannabis stores sends to youth and to the community at large, she said. These concerns come from seeing how retail cannabis stores have affected surrounding communities that allow them.
However, she will support the upcoming vote no matter which way it turns out.
“…Whatever the voters decided to do I will support that and I’ll support… everyone that could be affected by that in the most positive way.”
Homelessness has been an ongoing issue in Federal Way. What is your plan to address it?
“The Homeless Task Force came out with some great recommendations for the mayor and the council to take a look at,” Edwards said. Though, unfortunately, she said legislative asks that happened last year were unable to produce funding for the recommendations.
Now, Edwards said it’s going to be an interesting challenge to see what the council is able to do.
In her years of volunteer work with the homeless, one of the biggest problems in homelessness is the lack of awareness about available resources, and this is something she’d like to help change if elected.