Susan Honda: Federal Way City Council Pos. 3

‘I still have a job to do and I’m still interested in being on council.’

Incumbent Susan Honda, who is vying for the Federal Way City Council Pos. 3 against challenger Sharry Edwards, recently sat down with the Mirror to answer the following questions:

What motivates you to run for this position on the council?

“When I was on the Arts Commission and the Diversity Commission, I found that I couldn’t get things done unless I was a council member,” Honda said.

She first ran for council in 2011 and then again in 2015, but said she still has things she needs to do in Federal Way.

“I still have a job to do and I’m still interested in being on council.”

What skills or experience would you bring to the council?

Honda has lengthy experience working and volunteering in Federal Way. She moved here from Northeast Tacoma in 1979 when she married her husband, Bruce Honda, and has been an active resident ever since.

Her experience includes volunteering in Federal Way schools, for city commissions, boy and girl scouts, PTA, school leadership teams, acting as deputy mayor for the council for several years, sitting as chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee her first four years as a council member, sitting on several Sound City boards, and acting as state director for the National Women’s Legislative Group.

“As a council member I have earned the advanced certificate of municipal leadership,” she said, noting she is currently the only council member to hold this certificate.

Describe your top three objectives if you are elected and how you plan to address those issues.

Sound Transit’s new light rail, public safety and economic development are Honda’s top three priorities for the city.

Light rail will open up downtown and allow residents to more easily travel to areas around Federal Way, but it needs to be carefully managed so businesses and residents don’t suffer any unintended consequences.

Honda would also like to see more police officers in the city, and wants to use her position on the council to try to make that happen.

“We just have to work with the budget to make sure that happens.”

For economic development, Honda wants to ensure people know that Federal Way is a good place to bring your business.

“Our location beats everyone else, and there’s no reason that we don’t have more businesses here.”

What are your top concerns about public safety and what steps would you take to address these concerns?

“My top concern in public safety is that our citizens don’t feel safe, and we’ve had businesses who have said that they’ve left because of the homeless issue or other issues.”

Honda wants to be put more officers on the street so public safety will improve.

“I also would like to work with our police chief and get a social worker on our police force. There are other agencies … that use social workers, because a lot of what police work does is what a social worker would do.”

Honda hopes to look for more funding and have discussions about what a social worker with the police department would look like.

How should Federal Way improve economic development and attract businesses?

Honda recognized the hard work Tim Johnson, the economic development director for the city does, but said branding could help attract businesses here.

“I know we’ve had difficult decisions and discussions over branding in the past, but if you read Facebook I don’t know why you’d want to come to Federal Way,” she said. “It just doesn’t paint us in a very good light.”

Honda said it’s important to have discussions about why Federal Way is a good place to start a business. She also wants to open discussions about potentially building more business space here in an effort to attract more jobs.

Is the city’s permitting process effective and, if not, what are your solutions to improve this process?

Honda said the permitting process is something people have been talking about since Federal Way became a city.

“I don’t know how much is rumor, and how much is actually true, but I do know that if the public feels that there’s an issue, then there’s an issue and we need to address it.”

Honda thinks the city needs to update the phone systems for people who call in with permit questions, and she’d also like to see the permit desk open longer on weekdays and for a half-day on Saturdays.

“I’m concerned that that isn’t enough time for people who are working on a project, who have a 9 to 5 job working on a project, can’t get to city hall until after 5, and I’d like to see the permit counter open for when people need to use it.”

She would also like to see the city work more closely with Lakehaven Utility and South King Fire and Rescue since they all take part in the permit process.

Do you support marijuana retailers opening in Federal Way?

She supports cannabis retailers coming in to the city after learning more about the business and safety practices.

“So if the vote in November is positive and the public wants cannabis stores here, the council will then have to look at where we want them zoned.”

Federal Way should have a cannabis store here is because currently there is one just outside of the city that is taking a lot of Federal Way residents money, but the city is not seeing any of that tax revenue.

“I had a number of older folks talk to me about how difficult it is to access cannabis stores in other cities and the fact that they need this medication,” she said. “I want to make it accessible for those folks.”

Homelessness has been an ongoing issue in Federal Way. What is your plan to address it?

Honda said that after meeting with FUSION staff about the new upcoming family shelter, and said she’s excited that Federal Way will be getting a shelter in the near future.

Honda would like to see a 24/7 shelter in Federal Way for single men and women experiencing homelessness.

“People say that if we provide services here we’ll have more homeless people here, and the experts I’ve talked to said that isn’t actually true,” she said.

Federal Way doesn’t have a large amount of resources for homeless people, but she thinks future services could be funded by private donations if not by city funds.

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