Courtesy of Armondo Pavone.

Courtesy of Armondo Pavone.

“I’m enjoying all of it”

Pavone speaks on his first weeks as mayor

After one month in office, Mayor Armondo Pavone said he’s happy to be enjoying the job more than he even thought.

Pavone was elected in November, after serving on council since 2014. He said being mayor is like taking the blinders off— instead of focusing on the issues directly in front of council, he looks at the city’s projects and goals from start to finish.

It’s also been busier than expected, the weeks have flown by as he meets important leaders and works with city department heads to plan for the city. He said he has most enjoyed being a part of figuring out the solutions and being surrounded by staff, who’s working to help him.

“I’m enjoying all of it, even some of the challenges Renton is facing in the future aren’t as daunting,” Pavone said.

As the first month wraps up, Pavone said he didn’t come into the office with some sort of quick-list of items that needed fixing, but he does have some emerging priorities.

Public safety is one of them. Pavone said he is looking forward to the training the Renton Police Department will receive once the newly remodeled training center on the fifth floor of city hall is open, which will include a virtual training simulator, paid for after a unanimous council vote last year.

As mayor, the financial health and well-being of the organization is also important. Pavone said he wants to look at the health of the city projected 20 years out. When a tax credit Renton received for the Cascade/Benson Hill annexation expired, the city saved enough funds to cover the revenue drop. But Pavone said they will need to decide what to do with that loss of tax credit in the long term, to maintain the fiscal strength of Renton into the future.

Pavone has also been advocating that residents shop local, especially given the temporary shutdown of the Renton Boeing Factory. He said Renton businesses need local support now more than ever, as far less factory workers are in Renton to purchase from and support shops. Pavone said the sky isn’t falling in Renton— residents have been through it before, and he hopes 737 MAX construction will quickly get back up and running. But this is a good time to shop local and especially help the new downtown and Landing businesses that people love, he said.

For affordable housing, Pavone said transit-oriented development and partnering with regional efforts will be important to increasing workforce housing. He also hopes the city can find ways to incentivise developers to build affordable, and continue to make small but important steps like easing the process of developing accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

Two areas that Pavone said he’s hoping to draw more attention to are road and sidewalk maintenance and the Cascade/Benson Hill area. Pavone said the city needs a long-term funding mechanism for roads and sidewalks, especially as more county streets get annexed into the city. Public Works has struggled to fund these and special projects in previous years. As for the Cascade/Benson Hill areas, Pavone said he wants to talk future city efforts and development, and have a vision for the area.

Pavone also intends to continue onward with the completion of the important projects that are already underway from former Mayor Denis Law’s time, including the Family First Community Center, Sunset Area Transformation Plan, Downtown Civic Core Plan and funding of major parks maintenance.

He said a big concern for Renton is also increasing homelessness. Pavone said the city doesn’t have the resources to take these steps independently, but he believes regionally the solutions need to be examined. He said to really tackle the problem, they cannot treat all types of homelessness with the same solutions. Renton also needs regional support as it tries to relocate the Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches (REACH) feeding program and city severe weather shelter. The city has a potential spot in mind, Pavone said it involves cohabitating with St. Vincent de Paul, but it would require funding assistance and bus lines. If the city gets a more permanent and stable location, in the future it could offer more services than a weather shelter, such as a hygiene center.

“There’s a lot of outside resources that want to partner with us, but we need to have (a permanent) location to be able to do it,” Pavone said.

The most pressing issue in Renton right now? Pavone said the census is on top of mind.

As one of the most under-counted cities in King County, it’s important that the census reaches every Renton resident this year, he said. The census impacts federal, state and city funds. After receiving a grant for funding both a full time Census Program Manager and training for trusted Census Ambassadors, Pavone said they are going to do everything they can to work with the community and reach the diverse population of the city.

Overall, he said, Renton is in a good position— and a good place to be mayor.

Pavone has a weekly newsletter that can be subscribed to at rentonwa.gov.

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