Renton City Council races heat up

Part two of The Renton Reporter’s three-part candidate series

With the August primary around the corner, a large group of Renton candidates are preparing to fight for votes through forums, meet the candidate events and by participating in a three-part series presented by The Renton Reporter.

In this three-part series, candidates for mayor, city council and Renton School District Board of Directors in opposed races answered questions to help inform voters before ballots arrive in the mail.

All candidates received the same questions and answers were only edited for spelling and grammar.

To see a full list of question and answers visit our website, www.rentonreporter.com.

Renton City Council candidates

Council Pos. 3

Valerie O’Halloran

Age: 55

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

When I retired five years ago, I was a senior finance systems analyst for a major medical device manufacturer in the region.

Why are you choosing to run or run for reelection?

I am running for city council to ensure Renton remains a wonderful place to live, work, learn and play. Renton has the chance to meaningfully address our challenges and take advantage of the best of our opportunities, but we need experienced leadership with an understanding of our local community and values. I will bring my collaborative approach and innovative problem solving to city hall to ensure Renton stays ahead of the curve.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

I have 30 years of professional experience in accounting, financial analysis, systems and process improvement, making organizations better managed, more effective and efficient. I’ve also been an active community member and volunteer for the last 20 years. I’ve served on the Board of Directors for the Renton Regional Community Foundation for nine years and am currently on the foundation’s Executive Committee. My professional accomplishments, community involvement, and vision for Renton’s future give me the foundation I need to lead Renton forward.

What would be your top three priorities as a council member?

1. Comprehensive planning for growth where jobs, housing and transportation are considered together, rather than as isolated subjects. I think we have to look at these together. Wouldn’t it be nice to work where you live instead of sitting on I-405 for an hour every day?

2. Protecting and increasing our affordable housing so that folks aren’t priced out by growth. We need a variety of housing options in safe neighborhoods to meet people’s differing needs.

3. Looking for opportunities to take climate action at the municipal level. Renton, along with 14 other cities, committed to the King County Cities Climate Collaboration (K4C) in 2014, but little has been done to measure our CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions. It is time to elevate this conversation at city hall and begin to move the needle on this critical issue.

How do you plan to involve residents with decision-making in Renton?

I am known as a collaborative problem-solver who regularly seeks input from all stakeholders. I gather as much information as possible from everyone impacted and make data-driven decisions based on that feedback. As a council member, I will will listen carefully to the people of Renton and advocate policies that best match our community values and objectives.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

It is estimated that 1.8 million more people will arrive in the region by 2040. We need to be compliant with the Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) Vision 2050 goals of sustaining a healthy environment, thriving communities, and a strong economy, while conserving open spaces for the future.

We need to plan for inevitable growth. Renton is a PSRC Designated Regional Center, and in order to qualify for the federal and state funds that are funneled through PSRC to cities for programs including roads, transit, schools and parks, we must be prepared to take our fair share of the influx of newcomers.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

I believe homelessness is a regional issue that must be addressed using regional resources. City boundaries are meaningless when people are looking for shelter or services. The issues around homelessness are as varied and complex as the people who are experiencing it. We can’t treat this as a single umbrella topic when the reality is far more complex.

We need humane yet enforceable laws to get people into shelters or rehab, or jail when criminal activity is involved. But we cannot do this alone. King County and the region must develop cohesive, collaborative actions to address the various needs. No one method will work for every individual situation or city.

Renton has a variety of shelters, day use facilities, feeding programs, free medical clinics, shower and hygiene centers, social services and case management centers. We need to make sure people are getting access to the services they need and coordinate with the county to deliver support for those who aren’t. Let’s look at our rent regulations, build more affordable housing and improve the accessibility of our human services like addiction and mental health treatment. We can’t solve homelessness overnight, but we must do more to help those in need and protect public safety.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

Our police department and fire authority have strong support from city hall and as a council member, I would ensure they have all the resources they need in order to keep our neighborhoods and public spaces safe and welcoming. I would leave it to these professionals to inform and educate me about what their needs are and then I would move to provide the budget to meet those needs.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

I feel that there are not enough public transportation options to, from and within Renton. While we are paying millions of dollars into regional transit improvements, Renton itself is mostly underserved by ST3. We will someday get a transit hub and Bus Rapid Transit lanes, while other cities are already enjoying expanded bus service and light rail connections.

I live in the Highlands. It used to take me seven minutes to get from my house to downtown Renton. Due to the growth and added traffic, it now takes me seventeen minutes to get downtown. The nearest bus stop is a mile away and that bus runs infrequently during the week and hardly at all during evenings or weekends.

It’s the three Ts; Transit, Transportation and Traffic. We need to find ways to move folks around their daily lives that don’t require having to take two or three buses to get close to their destination.

If I’m elected, I’ll be the advocate Renton needs to ensure our voice is heard on future local, county and state transit projects. I’ll work with our existing transportation partners to improve our options now and develop better opportunities for the future.

What is the best way forward for Renton’s economic vitality?

We need to expand our economic base and the variety of jobs available in town. While Renton’s jobs base has historically been in the manufacturing sector, we are seeing a shift towards commercial and office sector jobs. We have a multitude of quality office complexes that include The Federal Reserve Bank, Kaiser Permanente Headquarters and Providence Health Regional Services to name a few. The new Southport development will bring 5,000 new high-tech jobs to Renton. Our vision for downtown is already attracting small businesses. We have one of the lowest Business and Occupation tax rates in the region which makes Renton an attractive location for businesses large and small.

I believe we need a variety of jobs here in town so that folks can work where they live and spend more time with their families, rather than commuting and sitting in traffic.

How do you see Renton’s future?

I see Renton becoming even more of a center for opportunity in the Region over the next decade and beyond — so long as we plan for growth and don’t just let growth happen to us. We need to be deliberate and collaborative in terms of housing, jobs and our environment so that all members of the community benefit from the opportunities and no one is disproportionately adversely affected by change.

We are an inclusive community and we should rightly be proud of the fact that people of all walks of life want to call Renton home.

Contact information and campaign information website:

www.valerieforteam renton.com

valerieforteamrenton@hotmail.com

425-495-5795

Max J. Heller, III

Age: Age 39

Have you ever been convicted of a felony?

Never convicted of a felony.

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?

Filed chapter 13 in 2017.

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

Part-time Airline employee and business owner

Why are you choosing to run or run for reelection?

I am running for the second time for the city council because a lot of the problems facing our city are ones that ARE NOT being answered by our current elected officials.

The real problem of housing that is not affordable to low-income families, landlords are being allowed to continuously raise rent prices and families are being forced out of their homes.

This is a very real problem and is happening every day. People’s success should not built on the backs of those struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads. We need content control and affordable housing for all.

We need real action to stop the growth of homelessness and panhandling, drug use, and crime in Renton. This is a problem that is plaguing our streets and communities. It’s time to get people in office that will get the job done within their term and stop making excuses for their inability to do their job. I believe very strongly on term limits, elected officials should only be allowed to serve up to two terms.

I am running for council because I believe I am the only candidate running who will fight to do what needs to be done to make Renton a great home for everyone.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

The experience I bring is not that of a politician but that of an everyday citizen who has lived the struggles of being from a low-income family, trouble making my rent and at one brief point in my life, homeless. The struggles of life that a lot of people face. I have lived and I will work to ensure that these people and struggling families have a voice at city hall.

What would be your top three priorities as a council member?

1. Affordable housing and rent control.

2. To get homelessness, crime and drugs off our streets and out of our community.

3. Enact a living wage in the city of Renton

How do you plan to involve residents with decision-making in Renton?

I want to actively talk to and hear from the residents of Renton and want their involvement.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

Yes, I do believe Renton should grow at a controlled and manageable pace

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

The candidate did not respond to the question.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

The candidate did not respond to the question.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

The candidate did not respond to the question.

What is the best way forward for Renton’s economic vitality?

The candidate did not respond to the question.

How do you see Renton’s future?

The candidate did not respond to the question.

Contact information and campaign information website:

425-306-0069

cleanerseattle@gmail.com

James Alberson

Age: 51

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?

Yes, Chapter 13 reorganization

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

Business owner of a Sandler Training franchise, which focuses on management and leadership consulting, sales training and coaching, and overall strategic company growth for small to mid-sized businesses.

Why are you choosing to run or run for reelection?

I’m running because I’d like to be a part of ensuring that as Renton grows, we foster the right kind of growth that positively impacts the city and the individuals and families that live here. Good growth must include adequate levels of affordable housing, create an environment that attracts quality businesses and high paying jobs, focus on inclusion and opportunities for all Renton citizens, and maintain safety for all — especially protecting seniors and other vulnerable populations.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

I’ve been the chairman of the board of directors for three years and a board member for six. In that role, I’ve become familiar with many of the challenges the city faces to thrive economically, develop a progressive identity to attract strong businesses and develop an environment that is welcoming to all. Over the years, I’ve held various leadership roles in corporate America and in small business. These different decision-making roles, with far-reaching effects in some cases, have given me a good perspective to weigh all aspects of an issue to arrive at the most appropriate solution. Additionally, it’s given me the experience of making the tough decision when it was not necessarily the most popular one. I believe these are traits that would be necessary and valuable in shaping policy for the city of Renton.

What would be your top three priorities as a council member?

1. Growth – The right kind of growth that positively impacts the city and the individuals and families that live here. Growth that provides adequate levels of affordable housing, ensures the safety and prosperity of every resident and keeps the traffic on our streets and arterials flowing. Growth that’s responsible and well thought out, that does not inadvertently create new problems and challenges in the way of traffic, safety, affordability or convenience.

2. Opportunity – It is incumbent on the city council to foster an environment of opportunity for all of us here in Renton. I’m committed to work to attract quality businesses, high paying jobs and economic development to our city. For our young people, I will work to encourage trade and technical training and to remove potential obstacles for those who want to attend college. I will champion a business-friendly environment and work to create a thriving downtown area.

3. Safety – Easily one of my top priorities. Property crime is becoming a real problem here in Renton. Property crime in our city is more than twice the national average and night-time prowling is a growing concern in many neighborhoods. I am determined to see that our police force has the tools and personnel it needs to keep us safe. Tied to safety is the ever-increasing issue of homelessness. My priority is to ensure the city is not only exploring options to address the current level of homelessness (the back end of the problem), but also working on solutions to significantly decrease the number of people who descend into a situation of homelessness. There is a need to address these issues head-on by encouraging public-private partnerships with non-government organizations (NGOs) and proven relief organizations to find and implement tested and proven solutions that work.

How do you plan to involve residents with decision-making in Renton?

My plan would be to consistently conduct community forums where residents could not only find out what issues are being discussed that may concern them, but to also share their viewpoints, concerns and suggestions. City council should always have an informed idea regarding how the community at large feels about potential policy revisions and influential decisions.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

Yes, however, it must be controlled growth that creates opportunities and minimizes any detrimental effect of growth (eg. increase traffic difficulties, etc.). Planning for such growth should take into account that the majority of the Renton citizens affected look upon the resulting growth as positive, progressive and beneficial to their overall quality of life.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

Shelters, addiction services, employment opportunities to assist the homeless in getting back to self-sufficiency and off of the streets. Any and all homelessness services should be directly tied to a formal program that is a structured process that one in a homeless position could follow to get back on their feet, should they choose to do so.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

I believe successfully addressing the increasing homeless issue would result in an increase in safety issues in Renton. Additionally, it’s important that the city give law enforcement officials the appropriate resources to put strong programs to improve safety in place. This may mean additional personnel and/or cutting-edge technology that would allow for faster, more comprehensive responses to criminal activity and unsafe situations.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

A priority would be to look into how light rail development can fit into Renton’s future. The transportation issue is not an easy one to solve, but I believe that increasing the amount of public transportation options (i.e. More bus routes, light-rail, etc.) is instrumental to easing traffic congestion. I’d like to look into what infrastructure modification are feasible to help with traffic flow as well.

What is the best way forward for Renton’s economic vitality?

The best way that Renton can have a thriving economy is by attracting strong, progressive businesses that provide significant employment opportunities with strong wages. Additionally, the city needs to continue downtown development that attracts the Renton community to gather, socialize and patronize downtown establishments. Economic vitality may also be realized by making the area attractive for people to want to move to Renton from other areas. To do that, Renton needs to be seen as a city that is highly unattractive to criminal activity, compassionate yet firm when it comes to homelessness, inclusive of all people and overflowing with opportunities to succeed and have a high quality of life.

How do you see Renton’s future?

I’m very optimistic about Renton’s future. The growth is happening, but it’s important that we grow responsibly. Renton’s geographic location makes it very attractive to both residents and businesses. It’s imperative that all key issues, such as safety, transportation and affordability, be prioritized in order to optimize that level of attractiveness. I see Renton as developing into even more of a key city in the Pacific Northwest as long as these priorities stay in focus.

Contact information and campaign information website:

Phone: 425-269-3750

Email: info@jamesalberson.com

Campaign website: www.james alberson.com

Linda M. Smith

Age: 68

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

(I) retired from the U.S. Postal Services with 36 years of government services as a Human Resource Director Professional

(I) currently, serve as a consultant and Pastoral Spiritual Care Provider.

Why are you choosing to run or run for reelection?

I have chosen to run for office because of my deep desire to see that equity for all residents are achieved and that Renton continues to move forward. I believe in equality and justice for ALL and my voice at the table can help shape the future agenda in identifying issues and resolutions by building relationship within the community and raising my voice to advocate for change. I believe our city needs a councilperson who represents; a responsive government, reflective of the whole community; a councilperson that has a proven track record of working with the City of Renton to create real strategies and solutions; a supporter for small, women, and minority businesses focused on economic development and entrepreneurship opportunities for all; an activist fighting for inclusion, diversity, and equal opportunity for all residents of Renton.

I believe I am the person with a proven record of working for all residents of the city of Renton.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

My experience of working within the community and being the eyes of the city uniquely position me to be an effective council person. I have an extensive educational background that includes a Doctorate in Transformation Leadership, Master of Divinity with a certificate in Transforming Spirituality, a Bachelor of Business Administration, and a Post Doctorate in Prophetic Leadership. My training includes Certification in Change Management, Leadership, Mediation, Transforming Conflict, Case Teaching, Consulting Skills at various learning institutions.

I was instrumental in seeing the needs of those who were experiencing homelessness and approached the city and other key partners to create what we now know as the Center of Hope (in the basement of city hall); I served as member of the Renton Human Service board and worked to ensure that the needs of those in our community were met; I was a founding board member of the Margie Williams Helping Hand Center in the Highland area (the only food bank serving that area); I saw a need this past winter and worked with partners in the community to open a Day Center so that those on the street would not have to go outdoors in the freezing weather. Through Renton African American Pastoral group, we have created many opportunities for the community to voice their opinions about issues that matter. These are but a few of the ways that my past experiences would benefit this position. I am astutely aware of issues that impact the livability of the residents in the city. As the founder of the Center of Hope, I identified there was an existing need and nothing was being done to address the matter. Not only was I the founder, I worked to put the program together and dedicated over a year’s time without any form of compensation to make it happen. Over and beyond what I have named, I have been engaged in the working of the city of Renton in a myriad of ways to include although not inclusively:

•Served on the Renton Human Services Board for several years, which enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of some of the social issues of our cities and work to eradicate those issues.

•Work with the City of Renton in creating resources and options for those marginalized in our community.

•Served as member of the Renton Comprehensive Growth Plan committee.

•Served on the Regional Human Service Board.

•Served on the founding committee that created the Community Supper program.

•Member of the Mayor Inclusion Task force with the goal of ensuring equity for all residents.

•Mayor Budget committee for three cycles.

•Chairperson of the Renton African American Pastor Group along with the Police Chief of Renton.

•Served on the Renton Parks, Trails and Community Facilities Community Advisory Committee.

•Worked with the Renton School District on resolving matters of inequity regarding students of color.

•Served on reconfiguration of the three Renton High Schools.

•Founding Board Member of the Margie Williams Helping Center serving over 20-plus years.

•President of Church Council of Greater Seattle≥

•Served as a Boardmember of Guided Pathway, addressing mental health issues with students in our community.

•Served as Chairperson of King County Peacemaking Team.

•Renton Emergency Day Shelter for Cold Weather 2019.

•Served as an active advocate for many issues of justice to include; Source of Income Discrimination Ordinances that prevented landlord from evicting vulnerable residents in Renton; more affordable housing for seniors, veterans, the most vulnerable, families with children and others; the hotel/motel tax for funding affordable housing at the regional level; $15 wage increase for workers; addressing issues of racial disparity through my involvement of speaking against injustices in various forums; standing in solidarity and speaking against unlawful housing of immigrants’ families and children; standing in solidarity and speaking out against any form of hate and injustice against all people no matter race, sexual preference, class or background.

I have received numerous awards and recognitions over the years to include The 2019 Soroptimist Ruby Award; Soroptimist International of Bellevue Metropolitan Award; Outstanding Citizen of the Year – Renton; Patron of the Year – Renton Community Foundation; Gertrude Appe Award – Church Council; Link Award – Highest honor for Service of Continuous Excellence; District Managers Award for Sustain Excellence Service in Human Resource Management; Vice President Award for Excellence Human Resource Management; National Human Resource Award for Training and Diversity Initiatives; Division Pride in Achievement Award for Excellence; Western Area Award of Excellence Human Resource Management; Seattle District Manager Award for Sustained Performance; Seattle Field Division Award for Human Resource Management.

What would be your top three priorities as a council member?

My top three priorities as a council member would be managing homelessness, diversity and inclusion, and public safety.

How do you plan to involve residents with decision-making in Renton?

I firmly believe that meeting with residents and giving them a voice is the best way to ensure that their voices are heard through community meetings and possibly surveys. It is important that residents are kept abreast of what is happening within their city. As a Human Services volunteer I was instrumental in talking to residents about their needs in order to determine the best approach in developing long term solutions in addressing issues that affect them. Many of the positive things that are happening in the city now is a direct result of those conversations.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

Growth is good for the city and it benefits all residents when we can continue to grow and maintain services that sustains growth. As the economy grows so does the needs of the residents. The council has a responsibility to ensure that job opportunities, diversity, increased services, improvements to infrastructure and all matters that impact the quality of life are managed so that the city continue to be the place that is livable for all residents.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

Homelessness is not a problem that can be solved by the city alone. It is a partnership between the residents, businesses, faith communities and social agencies. I believe that a collaborative approach of centralizing the availability of services, engaging key partnerships, identifying root causes and building sustainable solutions is the key. I am currently involved with working with the city and key partners on creating a vision of hope concept that engages all the above partners in addressing the ongoing needs to minimize the impact and bring about sustainable solutions of homelessness to our community.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

Public safety is an ongoing issue, as the population increases so does the challenges. Implementation and support of the Renton Comprehensive Policy Plan, as amended by Ordinances 5517, creates a pathway to tackle public safety. As a council member it is my responsibility to be aware of and focus on the issues that impact public safety to ensure that the plan is carried out in an effective matter. Active engagement and support of our fire department, police department, public agencies, social agencies, faith communities and the residents are key factors in ensuring that public safety is tackled and managed.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

The Renton Comprehensive Plan also covers a path forward for the city in terms of transportation. Being actively involved with the community and the council, to look for alternative means. As a council person, my focus would be to ensure that the plan is carried out in the most effective and efficient manner by continuing to engage essential partners and residents in the ongoing assessment of the city.

What is the best way forward for Renton’s economic vitality?

The best way forward for Renton’s economic vitality is to ensure that employers that are coming into the city also create opportunities for Renton residents, to continue to ensure that the Renton Comprehensive Plan is carried out.

How do you see Renton’s future?

I see Renton’s future as one that will continue to grow and thrive, one that will attract large thriving employers and growth in business and opportunities. Along with this growth, many of the things that makes Renton a livable place will become more of a challenge and one that will require an aggressive council who are actively involved in issues and bringing forth solutions for change. I believe I am the person with a proven record of working for all residents in the city of Renton. I will be honored to be YOUR representative on the Renton City Council. Together we can work to ensure all voices are heard and that the issues of all residents are addressed. I am committed to YOU, the City of Renton and together we can move Renton forward. For further details please contact me: www.lindasmithforrenton.com.

Contact information and campaign information website:

•Email: TeamLindaSmith4RentonCouncil@gmail.com

•Website: www.LindaSmithforRenton.com

•Telephone: 425-221-1504

Council Pos. 4

Incumbent Ryan McIrvin

Age: 36

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations for the University of Washington, Bothell.

Why are you choosing to run or run for reelection?

Working together, we’ve accomplished a great deal for Renton over the past four years, but there’s still more work to be done. Renton has a lot to offer its citizens. We have some of the best schools, neighborhoods and parks for our children to learn, grow and play. We have resilient local businesses that have weathered challenging economic climates and are beginning to thrive again. And we have a city government that responds effectively to the needs of its citizens by providing a high level of public safety and ensuring essential human services. We have it all in Renton and we truly are ahead of the curve. That’s why I am running for re-election to Renton City Council and that’s why I am asking for your vote once again in 2019.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

I have served on Renton City Council for the past 3.5 years and have gained valuable first-hand experience along the way. During that time, I have helped pass two city budgets and have served on a variety of council committees including Planning and Development, Transportation, Utilities and Community Services. I have also represented Renton on several regional committees including; WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Council, Cedar River Council, King Conservation District Advisory Committee, Regional Transportation Committee, Regional Affordable Housing Task Force, and Affordable Housing Committee of the Growth Management Planning Council. In addition to serving on council, I work professionally as the Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations for the University of Washington, Bothell.

What would be your top three priorities as a council member?

I want to keep Renton;

•Affordable and Connected – Managing growth remains the top issue for me as a council member. Renton has continued to become more congested and less affordable. We need to continue to make investments in a better transportation system and provide zoning and incentives to build more affordable housing close to job centers in our region.

•Sustainable and Green – Renton is a naturally beautiful place and we should do more to make sure it stays that way. The city should lead the way and continue to improve our energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, eliminate pollution runoff into our streams, restore salmon habitat in the Cedar River and decrease the amount of plastics present in our waste stream.

•Safe and Secure – We must continue to provide the resources and training necessary for law enforcement to maintain and improve safety in our neighborhoods. We must continue to make Renton the top law enforcement agency in the state if we hope to recruit and retain the very best and diverse police force we want and deserve.

How do you plan to involve residents with decision-making in Renton?

The City of Renton does a great job with public outreach, but there is always room for improvement. We must continue to provide adequate engagement opportunities through open houses and public meetings. Additionally, we need to continue to utilize technology such as social media, online surveys and our webpage to provide additional avenues for public input. Additionally, I would like to see the city develop a mobile app to help make the very best use of accessible existing technology to engage residents.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

Growth is inevitable, whether we want it or not. Even if we work to restrict growth in Renton, the region around us will continue to grow and Renton will still experience increased congestion from the people living in the next town over using our city streets to get to and from work. We need to work smarter, not harder and manage our growth in a way that minimizes negative impacts to our neighborhoods. Sustainable future growth should be developed around the employment centers and transportation hubs necessary to support it.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

Homelessness is a problem throughout our region that cannot be effectively (fixed) by one city acting alone. We need to work with our neighboring jurisdictions and nonprofit partners to build more temporary and transitional housing if we want to create better pathways out of homelessness. We need to attack homelessness from the root causes of drug addiction and mental illness, and housing affordability if we want to create lasting change rather than a perpetual cycle of streets and shelters. We won’t get anywhere with this problem if we don’t begin to do more to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless in the first place.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

Public safety is more than just crime statistics, it is a feeling. If you don’t feel safe in your neighborhood, you don’t have a high quality of life. Community policing means more than just responding to calls for service, it means being present and engaged at a variety of community and neighborhood events. Knowing who is watching your back on a first name basis creates trust. We need to continue to make sure that diversity, equity and inclusion remain a core tenet of our training program. Additionally, we also need to work to recruit and retain a more diverse police force which will better reflect the community which they serve. Finally, we need to continue to invest in the training and resources our law enforcement officers need to do their job safely and effectively every day in order to keep the public safe.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

Growth is at the center of most of the transportation challenges we face and a severe lack of affordable housing near places of employment has only magnified this problem exponentially. First, we need to plan future growth to allow people to live closer to their job and reduce their commute distance if we ever hope to truly solve this problem. Adding capacity of I-405, while certainly needed, will only get us so far. Sound Transit Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a step in the right direction, but we need transit services that are frequent, reliable and affordable if we hope to build a first-class transportation network. Ultimately, I believe that means extending light rail service to Renton. We also need to build and expand multi-modal options such as completing our network of regional trails and launching passenger ferry service on Lake Washington. Finally, we need to stay on top of emerging technologies that are rapidly changing the way we think about transportation and commuting if we want to stay ahead of the curve.

What is the best way forward for Renton’s economic vitality?

Renton has become a destination for both families and businesses to choose to locate and for good reason. We are fortunate to have great natural amenities such as the Cedar River and Lake Washington right in our backyard that make Renton a desirable place to live, work and play. We’ve fostered a truly inclusive culture that truly makes Renton a welcoming place for all. Given that, it should come as no surprise that both small businesses and large corporations alike choose to call Renton their home. Moving forward we need to work to retain the positive investments that have been made to date in order to sustain our progress and attract new ones in the future. The plan we created for downtown is the footprint to the future for economic vitality in our city core and will have a positive ripple effect throughout the city. We also need to continue the work that was started on the Sunset Area Plan and Benson Hill Plan to make sure all of Renton will share in the economic success we expect to continue to see.

How do you see Renton’s future?

Renton is changing every day. How we shape that change for better or worse will determine our future path. When my wife Stefanie and I were ready to purchase our very first home, we decided to put down our roots in Renton because we saw something special that we didn’t find anywhere else. Despite being one of the larger cities in the state, Renton maintains a true sense of community and belonging that offers a wide range of opportunities for families, neighborhoods and local businesses. It only took one look for us to know that Renton was where we wanted to start our family. The word is out and more and more families have heard that Renton is the place they want to be. As we continue to welcome new families from all backgrounds and walks of life into our community we need to work to maintain that small town feel that makes us special by making sure everyone who wants to be a part of this community feels included.

Contact information and campaign information website:

ryan@ryan4renton.com

www.ryan4renton.com

Maria Spasikova

The candidate did not respond to The Renton Reporter’s questionnaire by deadline.

Council Pos. 7

Kim-Khanh Van

Age: 35

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

I am a full-time immigration attorney – the owner of my own firm in Renton, Law Office of Kim Khanh T. Van, PLLC.

Why are you choosing to run for election?

There are many reasons – starting with being the mom of two young, energetic children. We are at a time when so many Americans are losing hope and seeing only the bad in their government, the decay in their environment, the increase in racism, the congestion any time we drive, the rising cost of everything we need day-to-day, and the struggle to provide a decent – not even competitive – education. Yet, I am an optimist. When you come from where I did and remember the long nights of fear and hunger and you wake up to hear your children laughing, it’s not hard to be a committed optimist wanting to make other lives better.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

The Asian Pacific Islanders’ population is almost a quarter of Renton’s population and growing. However, we haven’t had a voice at those top-elected policy tables. I was proud to be appointed to the Mayor’s Inclusion Task Force by Mayor Denis Law, who saw the need to connect the city with the Asian (Vietnamese) Community. I understood the serious nature of my role to integrate Asian-American diversity into the community “soul” of Renton. I was able to help bridge the city and police department with the Vietnamese and Chinese Community, a process that just required someone both sides trusted to sit down together with a common goal of extended trust between two groups relatively uninformed about the other. I am an immigration attorney who has helped so many find the right path to a well-deserved, and honestly-earned opportunity to grow and thrive in the United States. What I have offered is my own story, my own legal abilities and my time to help those with little access to a good life take the step of freedom and achievement to compete where they can thrive.

What would be your top three priorities as a council member?

My own priorities are to work on police/community relations, not just to improve the trust between the two, but to understand and help do more to stop the burglaries, end the rise in gang violence, cut down on truancy, ensure people who don’t speak English have translation when they face the law and do something about the disproportionate number of incarcerations which are people of color. (In addition, I have a soft spot in my heart for mom-and-pop operations and don’t want to see them go out of business – when we spend so much time and money encouraging new business or big business to come and stay here in our communities.)

How do you plan to involve residents with decision-making in Renton?

How I have run my business and how I have served my community is a window into how I intend to serve as your city council member. I believe in an open, transparent, accessible government that meets our citizens’ needs and invites them into more of our governing. If elected, I will be one of the few on the council who has been raised to use computers and today’s new technologies. Public involvement and inclusion no longer is limited to holding another public meeting (usually after work, having to travel on congested roads to a meeting while your kids are wanting you to help them on homework). Our public involvement needs to be online, at a time of your choice, and with options – not just OK-ing one option we put in front of them.

The government also has to be open. This starts with my own campaign; full transparency, starting with myself as a candidate. I believe in the hard-fought transparency we require of our candidates and their campaigns. I have filed my disclosure of what I own and where I get my dollars. My opponent has not filed any of the disclosure forms which were due two weeks after he filed for office nor has he showed up at any public meetings where we usually speak.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

I do believe we need to grow – with a direction of what we want to see when this next spurt of growth is over. We want a variety of affordable housing, density development around transportation hubs, new technology/airport manufacturing/health services jobs locating here or expanding here, and (most important to lure new jobs) we need a community where people want to live – and where our kids want to stay and raise their own families. I hope to also offer more of an economic lifeline to the many mom-and-pop small businesses who often hold onto their livelihood by nickels and dimes.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

No child should sleep outside, nor in crowded, noisy, unhealthy or unsafe spaces. No child – including the teenage/young women and men on our streets. These kids often are without proper identification to get heath care, get a job, go back to school, be admitted to shelters, or get back on their feet. I believe local governments like Renton are some of the few likely agencies to step out of the norm of waiting for other government agencies (state, big cities, county, nonprofits, church, etc.) to come to their rescue. The answer is not one program, nor one city, nor one path. The homeless kids and families with kids are as different as we are. What we need to do is track every kid who ends up homeless, get them proper IDs and individual counseling, and offer them a “hands up” to a new life worth living.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

The best steps toward better two-way relations between police and minority/communities of color or poor communities is always face-to-face, long before the two are in a crisis situation, and each knowing the cultures of the other. Early conversations and getting to know each other is critical to averting confrontation situations and stopping the divides which occur way too often when police and minority groups meet in confusion and chaotic times. My experience has been that both Renton police and Renton minority groups are only too willing to meet and honestly share concerns (albeit nervous or fearful of not being able to make a good impression).

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

There are lots of “big picture” answers that we have worked towards for decades – light rail to the airport, major highways (167, I-5, etc.), increased commuter buses and mass transit/transfer buses, and lots of planning for future costly but very much needed expansion. However, for those of us who are not the big city players, we need to consider less costly and more personalized spot service. In many other cities, the big projects absorb all the money available – but some have chosen to offer more simplified and less costly personal rides. Some are offering senior vans to public meetings, exercise classes, special classes and doctors’ appointments. Others are offering express buses to large work sites, malls and special events.

I am open to more personalized service.

What is the best way forward for Renton’s economic vitality?

Every one of us needs to be an economic ambassador for the city. We should all know why Renton is a place where more people ought to consider bringing their business and new jobs. We are in the right place, at the right time with the right location to offer a better quality of living, a proud middle-class outlook on the future and a mixing of cultures that work well together. My own personal preference is to make sure that, in our run for a better, more economically-diverse and profitable future, we find new ways to offer incentives and longevity for businesses our mom-and-pop small businesses could use to survive. Important to note that so many of these businesses are minority businesses whose ethnic approach to their successful business would only make Renton better and more successful.

How do you see Renton’s future?

I see Renton’s future as a place where our kids grow up and want to stay here as they are able to take educational classes on everything from being a great chef to being a multi-lingual teacher to being a high-tech engineer ready to launch the next rocket. I see it as a place where more people are working from home, raising kids as they work at home, avoiding the great traffic jams, more involved in public decisions through the technology now coming of age, and more aware of the diverse communities living in its environs.

I see Renton as a community.

Contact information and campaign information website:

Elect Kim Khanh Van

P.O. Box 1246

Renton, WA 98057

Campaign Phone: 425-919-9051

Campaign Website: www.elect kimkhanhvan.com

Thomas Trautmann

Age: 25 years old

Have you ever been convicted of a felony?

I have never been convicted of a felony.

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?

I have never filed for bankruptcy.

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

I currently work in parks maintenance for the City of Issaquah Parks Department.

Why are you choosing to run or run for reelection?

I am choosing to run for office because I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I was born and raised in Renton, and I have been able to benefit from the great schools and local parks, and I want to make sure that future citizens of Renton will have the same opportunities that I had.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

In December 2018, I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Political Science with a specialization in Political Economy.

What would be your top three priorities as a council member?

1. Economic growth

2. public safety

3. Affordable housing

How do you plan to involve residents with decision-making in Renton?

I would encourage all residents to attend city council meetings whenever possible to make sure that our elected officials know where the public stands on the issues. Also, I would utilize social media like Facebook and Twitter to more easily engage with residents.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

Yes, Renton should continue to grow. We need to be proactive in building/updating new and affordable homes and apartments, as well as office space and storefronts.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

The city should provide funding for food banks as well as homeless shelters. It is important to recognize that many homeless people are also victims of the opioid epidemic, so there should also be resources to help drug addicts connect with rehabilitation centers.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

I would make sure that the police department has the resources they need to ensure our community is safe. It is important that repeat offenders are not put back on the street. People who have been arrested multiple times should face increasingly harsher penalties after each arrest. I also think it is important for officers to utilize body and dashboard cams while on duty.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

I would work with county and state governments to secure funding for new road projects in Renton. We have already seen the construction of a new overpass from (Interstate 167) to (Interstate 405), and more infrastructure projects would help alleviate congestion on our roads.

What is the best way forward for Renton’s economic vitality?

The best way forward is to embrace the future. I believe the best way to accomplish this goal is to build new office buildings so companies can open their doors in Renton. Tech companies, like Amazon and Facebook, have spread from Seattle to Bellevue, and the next logical location to spread to is Renton. This would bring many jobs to the area, and would increase employment opportunities for our community. This would need to happen along side a shift in our schools’ curriculums toward coding, programming, technology, math and science, so that when our students graduate, they will be able to fill the jobs that tech companies would bring to Renton. This can be accomplished while at the same time we support our local small businesses that help make Renton unique, from being pushed out by larger corporate chains.

How do you see Renton’s future?

I see Renton’s future as one that is bright and full of growth. We as a community will continue to adapt to a changing society and economy. Our town’s slogan is “Ahead of the curve”, and that is the same mindset we need to have going forward. I believe our city will continue to be a place that is welcoming to all people, no matter their race, sexuality, gender or socio-economic standing.

Contact information and campaign information website:

Email: trautmann4renton@gmail.com

Website: trautmann4renton.com

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