We asked they answered

Renton mayor candidates prep for the upcoming primary

Renton mayor, city council and school board candidates may be feeling the heat this month, not from the summer weather but from a quick moving election.

Primary election candidates have one month until voters decide the top two candidates to move onto the general election in November. Nineteen candidates filed in Renton for multiple leadership positions across the city.

To help readers get an idea of who each candidate is, the Renton Reporter sent all candidates running in opposed races a list of questions to answer for our publication. All candidates received the same questions as their opponents. Answers have only been edited for spelling and grammar. In the following weeks, candidates from different races will have their questions published in the paper and at our website. Check out our website, www.rentonreporter.com, for a full list of questions and answers.

Ruth Pérez, Marcie Maxwell, Armondo Pavone and Randy Corman have all filed for mayor. Three of the candidates are current Renton councilmembers. Maxwell is a former state representative for the 41st district.

Ruth Perez

Ruth Perez

Ruth Perez

Age: 51 years old

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?

Renton City Councilmember

Contact information and campaign information website:

ruthperezforrenton@comcast.net; www.ruthperezforrenton.com

Why are you choosing to run?

I am running for Mayor of Renton because we need new leadership and commitment to implementing smart policy solutions. Our city is blessed with tremendous energy and prosperity but faces many challenges. In the last few years, we’ve seen incredible growth, economic prosperity and a rush of new people looking to build their lives in Renton – now is the time to make sure that we are building upon our recent successes and being proactive to avoid the pitfalls of such rapid expansion. In addition to relieving congestion and getting Renton moving, I will also be focused on responsible growth and infrastructure, as well as ensuring an open, transparent and accountable city government. As a Renton City Councilmember, I have worked to ensure Renton is a place people are proud to call home. As your new Mayor, I will continue to fight for Renton and our residents on the issues that matter the most.

What would be your top three priorities as Mayor?

First – Safe and secure communities. Improving public safety so all our residents can feel safe and secure in their neighborhoods.

Second – Building a strong local economy and continuing to create jobs right here in Renton, so every resident of Renton can continue to live and thrive here.

Third – Advocating for better transportation options so you can get to work, school, and home to your family.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

It has been my honor to serve as your city councilmember. From bringing good jobs to our city, to improving our transportation options, and keeping our streets safe, I have worked to building on our success and making our city an even better place to live.

I have a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science. I am also the only Renton City Councilmember to have received an Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership (CML) from the Association of Washington Cities (AWC). AWC recognizes mayors and councilmembers for accomplishing training in four core areas and for stepping beyond our current role as an elected official, enhancing our professional development through additional community service. These trainings have provided me with the knowledge needed to effectively operate within the law, plan for the future, secure and manage funds, and foster community and staff relationships. I bring over 30 years of professional experience, leadership, tenacity and deep commitment to Renton. I have had a successful career in publishing as well as broadcasting and I have an extensive background in public service. From my work with former Governor Gary Locke to the Mexican Consulate of Seattle, I have proven to be a successful, professional and effective leader. On your behalf, I have engaged with the Association of Washington Cities and several regional boards and committees to increase the presence of Renton regionally as well as nationally with the National League of Cities As a councilmember, I have focused on improving our finances, transportation, public safety and attracting good jobs to Renton. I have participated in key project funding discussions with our national Congressional Delegation as well as testifying before the state legislature. Additionally, I have supported a number of new initiatives and ordinances to maintain our parks, streets, trails, Senior Center, Community Centers, Farmer’s Market, Renton Museum and more. In addition, during my time on council, I have represented the people of Renton on several regional boards and committees including; South County Area Transportation Board, Mayor’s Inclusion Task Force, National League of Cities Transportation and Infrastructure Services Committee, Association of Washington Cities Federal Committee, Eastside Transportation Partnership and Renton Airport Advisory Committee.

I have received several recognitions and awards, including the 2018 and 2019 Renton Best Elected Official by the Renton Reporter and the 2016 Woman of the Year Award, as well as the 2016 Women and Accomplishments that Broke the Glass Ceiling Award by the Women in Democracy.

How would you include more diverse voices in the public process?

Diversity and inclusivity are major buzz words these days, but for good reason. It’s one thing to say, “yeah, it’s our strategy to include our diverse community,” but it’s another to carve out the time and resources to do that. We need to commit extra time to seek out alternative methods to include more diverse voices in the public process. This may mean stepping outside our comfort zone to do outreach in each neighborhood, school, church, nonprofit and/or organization in Renton.

We all want to live in a safe, friendly place. I believe that engaging our diverse community is vital in helping to create the kind of place we enjoy living in. I am looking forward to continuing visiting every neighborhood and working together to improve community unity and pride, as well as improve access to city services, programs and employment, and make residents and businesses aware of opportunities to be involved with the public process and promote understanding and appreciation of our diversity.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

The pressure on Renton has built up significantly over these last years, as an extremely desirable place to live, and as an ever-congested pass-through route. Our future is threatened by development happening faster than anticipated, and worsening traffic, requiring focused leadership and coordination with the state, county and nearby cities.

I believe that growth needs to fit the community vision. I will encourage responsible growth. Not all new development in town has met the expectations of the community and we have not seen the other benefits that normally come with growth.

We are working to raise the bar by revising our Comprehensive Plan because we must protect our neighborhoods, ensure we have affordable housing and address our historic and increasing congestion issues — for those that live here, and those that will live here in 2040.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

This year, the Renton City Council unanimously passed an agreement to give $60,463 to the South King County Housing and Homeless Partners, a coalition of South King County cities. The City of Renton will be working with the group to better preserve and add affordable housing in the region. One of the big challenges for affordable housing in Renton is that over 1,600 people are on the waitlist for Section 8 housing vouchers, and the Renton Housing Authority has ceased accepting applications at this time due to the scarcity of acceptable housing

We should keep working with our regional partners as well as our local organizations, including RANU (Renton Area NonProfits Unite), to bring real solutions to the table at the same time that we preserve the quality of life of our community.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

Safety and crime continue to be at the top of many of our neighbors’ minds. It is the conversation that I have most frequently while knocking on doors, regardless of the neighborhood. I’ve heard stories of mail theft, or vandalism, of car prowls and of burglaries. It is clear that we must do more to stem this tide of crime in our city and region.

First, I believe we must invest in community policing. This gets police officers out of their cars and engaging with our residents, building trust between the police department and our neighbors. A community policing program is part of that ounce of prevention that we need to prevent the pound of cure down the road. Second, we must make sure that our police department has the resources they need to do their jobs. Third, we have to be actively pursuing innovation and creativity in our police department. Whether it’s reducing response time or building out educational and prevention programs, our police department can and should be looking for new solutions in our continually growing and changing region. As technology changes, so must our ways of harnessing it to keep our communities safe.

Finally, we need to address some serious concerns that our community has. For example, during the last five years, our community has increasingly talked to me about dangerous and irresponsible driving behaviors they are concerned about. Whether it is in their community like downtown or in their neighborhood, people see speeding cars and cars not respecting stop signs. We need to do enforce the law. I want everybody to feel that they can walk, bike or drive safely in Renton period!

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

I have been hard at work to provide transportation options for all. Two months after I was appointed as a city councilmember, I was already testifying in Olympia before the House Transportation Committee for state transportation funding for Renton projects and I have not stopped since then.

Traffic congestion has been an issue for the last 40 years, but in the last 10 years, we have seen dramatic increases in congestion, both in volumes of cars and in the length of the rush hour. Drivers are frustrated and looking for relief and enforcement of current laws to address the issue. With the growth in Renton and neighboring cities, our traffic has gone from an annoyance to a daily crisis. Regionally we need to ensure that King County and the state provide solutions and funding in partnership with Renton to relieve some of our major issues and bring more transportation options to our community.

Some of my priorities are:

•Increased investments for improvements and new roads. (Federal, State and Local dollars)

•Work in partnership with WSDOT and the legislature to complete new lanes on I-405 and advocate for new investments to reduce cut-through traffic in our city.

•Make sure that Metro Connects adds a frequent service network in growing areas in Renton like the Highlands, Longacres and the East Valley *Continue pressing Sound Transit for more high-capacity transit (BRT, Light Rail, etc.)

•Finish the Renton Connector, an amenity and a needed linkage between two regional trails that currently are disconnected – the Lake to Sound Trail and the Lake Washington Loop Trail.

•Sidewalk replacements to assist in making Renton a walkable city.

I will continue to fight to relieve our traffic woes and get you out of your car and home with your family.

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

Economic development has been going well here in Renton but there is always room for improvement, particularly in being thoughtful about the diversity of businesses based here and how they fit into our community and the community we want to be. I believe that we must focus on retaining quality jobs that provide a living wage for workers and their families.

We must retain our place as the center of the aerospace industry and I will work to keep those jobs right here. I believe we must be intentional about the businesses we recruit to Renton, ensuring there is enough variety in the kinds of businesses and the kinds of jobs they offer so that every resident can work here. Whether a tech CEO or a frontline manufacturing worker, we should be looking at ways to expand the job market and create jobs across the spectrum of work.

Additionally, I believe that we must cut red tape for small businesses and support business ownership by our very own residents here in our city. Small business ownership makes up the fabric of a strong, vibrant and prosperous local economy and I will continue to fight for our small business owners as a Mayor of Renton.

How do you see Renton in the future?

As our region and our city continue to grow, we must think critically and strategically about what we want Renton to look like next week, next month, next year and 20 years down the line. Attracting and retaining good jobs has been a key component of our Business Plan. As Renton continues to grow and change, we need to make sure that we are attracting quality employers to our city. Good jobs are a foundation of a strong community and by developing a strong local economy, we will be able to work where we live.

I am committed to building an inclusive, informed city with opportunities for all where people can live, work, learn and play in a safe and friendly community.

Marcie Maxwell

Marcie Maxwell

Marcie Maxwell

Age: 64

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? NO

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? NO

What is your full-time career?

Real Estate business owner in Renton – Lisa Lam & Marcie Maxwell, LLC.

Contact information and campaign information website:

marcie.maxwell@live.com; www.marciemaxwellforrenton.net

Why are you choosing to run?

I want to ensure that people in our city have the best opportunities to thrive, that we grow and keep businesses, and good jobs, here and that our city is safe, healthy and welcoming. I’ve raised my family here, and have been a small business owner and a community leader in Renton for three decades. My experiences and skills plus my regional and statewide relationships, and my political will can serve Renton best as many of the problems, challenges, and opportunities our city faces are regional and need strong connections for regional solutions.

I have solid experience and understanding of public policies and budgets as well as elected public service. I intend to use my proven leadership voice and actions for policies that value diverse communities, improve lives for more families, invest in our parks and trails, address housing needs and affordability, improve transportation choices, and strengthen productive partnerships within our city and beyond.

What would be your top three priorities as Mayor?

1. Ensuring that Renton city government is effective, efficient and accountable in public safety, city services and in responsiveness to you as our community.

2. Representing our city’s needs in strong and collaborative regional leadership for housing needs, transportation choices and environmental stewardship.

3. Strengthen Renton’s livability in caring for kids and seniors, welcoming inclusive opportunities for all communities here, partnering with public schools, and investing in parks and trails.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

■ Renton business owner marketing Renton’s neighborhoods and community.

■ Served as elected State Representative for three terms, for the cities of Renton, Newcastle, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Issaquah and Sammamish. In the state legislature, Marcie was elected to leadership as House Deputy Majority Leader, served on House Appropriations/Budget Committee, Rules Committee, Economic Development and Technology Committee, Education Committee, Capital Budget Committee.

■ Served as elected Renton School Board Director for eight years including as Board President.

■ Appointed Washington Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor as executive lead for K-12, early learning, higher education and workforce development.

■ City of Renton Highlands/Sunset Area Revitalization Task Force member

■ Past member, City of Renton Blue Ribbon Council -Past member, Eastside Transportation Executive Advisory group

■ Founding board member, Renton Regional Community Foundation

■ Founding board member and Past President, Kennydale Neighborhood Association

■ Founding board member, Cities / Communities In Schools Renton

■ Past Chairman, Renton Chamber of Commerce

-Renton Chamber Legislative and Transportation Committee

-Renton Chamber Education and Workforce Committee

-Founding board member, Renton Schools Foundation

-Past President, Renton Rotary Club

-Past President, Renton Area Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Council -Past President, Hazen Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) and Maplewood Heights PTA

-Board member, Leadership Eastside (grows civic leaders for East King County communities)

-Board member, ADL Pacific NW Region (leads against hate and for justice, and civil rights for all people)

-Board member, InvestEd (a statewide organization supporting learning and life for youth)

-Seattle/King County Realtors’ Government Affairs Committee (housing, business, community)

-Member, Governor’s STEM Alliance (education, workforce development, equity and opportunity)

How would you include more diverse voices in the public process?

I have a proven record of working with diverse people and communities by building and strengthening relationships with communities in their own settings and with their organizations.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

Renton and our region are growing because we are fortunate to have great jobs and a desirable quality of life. I want to lead a City of Renton that values the opportunity for more people to participate in the economy and for all of our neighbors to have a place to call home.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

Partnering with Renton Housing Authority, faith-based organizations, nonprofits in housing, human services and skills training, city staff can work to guide homeless individuals and families toward stability in their lives. Providing shelter, basic needs and emergency services for people in their most vulnerable times takes investments and efforts from the city, organizations and volunteers together. City ordinances need to be enforced to curb illegal behavior.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

Public safety is effective when it’s both proactive and responsive. Our police officers and firefighters should continue to connect with city neighborhoods and businesses every day. First responders need training, policies and resources to keep us safe. In my view, city public safety responsibilities include clean and safe water and well-maintained city infrastructure too.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

I have established region-wide relationships and the political will to be Renton’s leader with transit agencies and for state transportation funding. Improving transportation means ensuring I-405 freeway improvements are completed, smart traffic management for city streets, better transit access with routes and timely scheduling that work for residents and workers here, transit-oriented housing development near employment centers, walkable neighborhoods and opportunities on our waterways. Renton must make its needs known early and at every step to ensure we get our needs met in regional transportation decisions and investments.

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

Employers and employees want good schools, transportation choices that work and housing close to work. Renton has been a center of commerce for decades. We have diversified businesses here beyond aerospace, and continuing to do so is a vital part of our economic future. Our region’s technology industry has a strong future and is a sector we can attract to Renton. In my education leadership roles, I know that an educated workforce prepared for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and the trades are valuable to employers. I know how to be the most effective city leader that partners with students, schools, colleges and apprenticeship programs. As a small business owner, I see that when families have good jobs and earn living wages they can afford to support local businesses.

How do you see Renton in the future?

Growth is headed our way. How well we manage that growth is vital to how we maintain our quality of life here. With effective leadership, we can do both. Into the future, I see Renton with its richness in diversity of people, beauty of place, talent in workforce, and care in community.

Armondo Pavone

Armondo Pavone

Armondo Pavone

Age: 56

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 have owned and operated restaurants in downtown Renton since 1985 including Armondo’s Cafe Italiano (1985-2011) and Melrose Grill (2001-current).

Contact information and campaign website:

Armondo for Mayor

PO Box 623 Renton, WA 98057. 206-799-0867. www.armondoformayor.com

Why are you choosing to run?

My original decision to run for Renton City Council was based on the personal belief in the importance of giving back to a community that has supported me as a business owner for more than 30 years. During my six years serving on our city council, what became very apparent is the positive organizational culture that has been created in the city. A culture that is customer service oriented, collaborative, open to new ideas and a great place to work. This is something that all successful organizations strive for and it always starts at the top. My decision to run for Mayor stems not only from the desire to continue this culture and the positive results that it delivers to the residents and businesses, yet also the belief that with enough time and effort it becomes part of the fiber of who we are as a community. As a lifelong Renton resident, I will always have our community’s best interest at heart.

What would be your top three priorities as mayor?

As mayor, my top three priorities would be public safety, economic development and quality of life.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

Serving on our city council presently and for the last six years, I’ve had the opportunity to sit on all six council committees and serve as council president. I have worked with the council members and department heads and know the processes and policies that run the city. I have also served on several outside organizations, including; the Economic Development Committee, The Regional Law, Safety and Justice Committee, Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, Downtown Renton Association and Renton Regional Fire Authority.

In addition to my experience as an elected official in our local government, I have owned small businesses for over 30 years in Renton. I have built and operated two successful restaurants from the ground up. This requires vision, planning, leadership, budgeting, hiring and managing employees. This experience has helped me to be more collaborative, decisive and always open and willing to listen to new ideas.

How would you include more diverse voices in the public process?

The city of Renton is leading the way in efforts to build an inclusive city. Renton City Council has identified inclusion as a top priority in the strategic business plan and dedicated resources to the mayor’s office, police department and human resource office. It will be important to continue the great progress made with the Mayor’s Inclusion Taskforce (a network of community leaders representing minority groups in the city) and continue to improve access to city services, build connections and encourage participation.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

Renton will continue to grow. We will continue our goal to support planned growth and influence decisions that impact the city. Under the Growth Management Act, Renton has an obligation to meet the demands of local and regional growth. We will need to be vigilant in our oversight to uphold high standards, protect the environment and improve the quality of life for all residents.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

Our city continues to work very closely with local organizations and churches to provide access to shelter, food and services for our homeless population. We are one of the only cities to create a year-round day shelter for homeless women and children at City Hall in partnership with local churches. We also support a shelter program for homeless men, once again, in partnership with our faith community.

For years, we have provided space for a daily feeding program when no other options existed. We have also worked with King County officials, local housing developers and the Renton Housing Authority in creating housing opportunities for hundreds of homeless families and veterans. This will continue to be one of my priorities.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

Public Safety has continually been a priority for the city council and administration. I feel honored to be the only candidate that has been endorsed by the Renton Police Officers Guild due to my commitment to improving the safety in our community. We have one of the best trained and effective police departments in the region that continually develops creative ways to reduce crime. Our officers are equally committed to building strong relationships with our residents and business leaders in helping members of our community to feel safer in their neighborhoods and our business districts.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

Transportation remains one of the top concerns for local residents. As a city, we have been successful at obtaining tens of millions of federal and state funds to improve and maintain our local roads. We are working closely with Sound Transit and METRO Transit to make sure that Renton receives its fair share of public transportation options for our residents and workforce. I will work closely with our state representatives, county council members and Sound Transit board members to lobby for increased service in our community.

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

Renton’s economic vitality is currently the envy of the region. We have a unique approach of teaming up with major stakeholders that in turn help us grow our economy. These marketing stakeholders include; Renton Technical College, UW Medicine-Valley Medical Center, Renton School District, Port of Seattle and Renton Chamber of Commerce. I strongly believe it is important to continue to collaborate with these various entities to promote and grow the city’s regional economic vitality.

How do you see Renton in the future?

Renton is currently the complete package; live, work, learn and play. We have multiple key industries providing a strong economic base. We have a well-established manufacturing industry, a growing medical sector and we are on the verge of a tech industry boom. Renton has award winning schools that include Renton Technical College which has an 85 percent job placement rate.

There are a number of key areas being developed like the Sunset redevelopment project and the downtown Civic Core Plan. We continue to invest in our parks and open spaces and, with help from private investors, we will soon start construction of the new Family First Community Center in the Cascade area.

In the future, Renton will continue to attract quality projects like The Landing, Hyatt at Southport and the recently announced Top Golf. As a lifelong resident, I see the growth and changes as a positive indicator that Renton is on the right track for future success.

I’m excited about the opportunity to serve as your Renton Mayor and know that our future is strong on all fronts.

Randy Corman

Randy Corman

Randy Corman

Age: 57

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 worked for Boeing as a design engineer for 15 years, a manager for another 18 years and I took early retirement in 2017. I’ve been a Renton City Council Member for over 25 years.

Contact information and campaign information website:

Phone: 425-271-6913. Address: 2216 Harrington Pl NE, Renton, WA 98056. Email: voterandycorman@gmail.com. Website: www.CormanForRenton.com. Personal Blog: www.RandyCorman.com;

Facebook: cormanforrenton. Instagram: cormanforrenton

Why are you choosing to run?

Renton is going in the right direction, and I want to keep it that way. Our downtown is blossoming, our neighborhoods and businesses are thriving, crime is decreasing and we have better parks than ever. As a council member, I’ve helped Renton maintain our sense of community as we’ve grown in population from 43,000 to 102,000.

I have fostered a collaborative, non-partisan culture at city hall, where we use facts and data to drive our decisions while including residents in every step. My wife and I have five children and five grandchildren, all living in Renton, and we want to ensure Renton keeps getting better.

As Mayor, I’ll keep us on the right track.

What would be your top three priorities as Mayor?

My three top priorities are to;

1. Ensure residents feel safe in their homes, neighborhoods and throughout our city all times of day and night. Please see my expanded Public Safety plan in item 13 below.

2. Work with builders and nonprofits to ensure Renton has desirable homes for people in all income groups and that no residents are sleeping in cars, tents or on the streets. Specifically, complete new market-based and rent-assisted apartments in downtown, Highlands and at the future transit center at Grady and Rainier. Discount development fees based on square footage to encourage the creation of smaller single-family homes and make permitting more efficient.

3. Work with the state, county, transit agencies and private sector to improve Renton’s traffic flow and improve our connectivity to the region. Please see my expanded Transportation Plan in item 14 below.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

As Renton’s most experienced council member, I have a 25-year proven track record of listening to residents and improving our city. I’ve served five years as Council President and chaired all eight council committees. I’ve served with four Renton mayors and closely seen what works and what doesn’t. I bring skills from an award-winning, 33-year career as an engineer and manager at the Boeing company. As an engineer, I thoroughly understand our city’s transportation, utilities, emergency systems and other infrastructure.

As an experienced manager, I am ready to lead our city staff in a positive and collaborative direction. I have been successful on the council at helping to hold down city taxes and utility fees while adding many amenities to our city by growing our business base. Just a few examples of improvements are Henry Moses Aquatic Center, the Piazza, Veterans Memorial Park, Ron Regis Park, Heritage Park and many others.

I’ve also represented Renton regionally on many committees, including the I-405 Executive Committee, Metro Transit Board, WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery, Eastside Trail Planning, Sound Transit Bus Rapid Transit, Eastside Transportation Partnership and others. My management and regional experience will ensure Renton is well-positioned to get our share of transportation and other statewide and county services.

How would you include more diverse voices in the public process?

I will continue to build on work we have started in this area. I want all our residents, from every culture, to feel connected and at-ease working with the city, in sharing opinions, receiving emergency aid, and conducting business. In 2008 we identified a network of community leaders in our diverse populations to help us eliminate barriers to communication with our residents. We have evolved this group into our Mayor’s Inclusion Task Force.

As Council President, I presided over work to add diversity and inclusion goals into our city business plan. We’re now expanding outreach and offering city services through many new channels and partnerships, and in many languages, to increase our connection with all of our population. We are adding special events, like the multi-cultural festival, the Unity March and recently raising our first Pride flag, to celebrate our diversity and ensure everyone feels welcome at city hall.

I will continue to expand on all this progress. I will also make sure we continue to give extra time and accommodations to speakers at council meetings who are not native English speakers or need other assistance.

Do you believe Renton should continue to grow?

Yes, we should continue to grow in a way that benefits our residents and businesses. Growth is inevitable in our area, and we need to continue proactively directing growth in a way that improves our city.

I participated in the creation of our city’s first Comprehensive Plan 25 years ago and have made countless decisions since then to ensure growth works for residents of Renton. I helped create The Landing, Southport, a revitalized downtown and the IKEA business district through careful and strategic planning. They are now providing great shopping, dining, and housing for our residents, while significantly shifting the tax burden off of Renton homeowners. These businesses also help fund our schools.

Our housing supply should continue to grow in a way that protects existing neighborhoods while providing ample opportunities for new families and individuals.

What homelessness services do you believe the city should provide?

As a council member, I have helped the city work hand-in-hand with Renton Housing Authority, numerous nonprofits, and faith-based organizations to offer homeless residents the assistance they need to get off the street and into emergency shelters and housing. In some cases, homeless residents reject help because of addiction, mental illness or other barriers, and will end up sleeping on sidewalks, in cars or encampments in wooded areas. The city currently provides grants to partner agencies, staffing assistance for emergency shelters, day-use facilities for homeless families, life-saving assistance to the homeless, information and outreach about shelters and services, cleanup of dangerous camps and other help.

Homelessness is a problem that we can tackle successfully in Renton if we get in front of current trends with a comprehensive plan. Renton Housing Authority already provides nearly a thousand subsidized and low-cost housing units to families and individuals who might otherwise be homeless. They have over 100 additional units currently in planning or under construction. In the last Washington legislative session, Renton became eligible to receive nearly $500,000 a year for the next 20 years to help solve homelessness. I’ve proposed providing these funds to Renton Housing Authority to get even more apartments in the pipeline.

Data suggests we have a few hundred homeless residents sleeping outside or in over-night emergency shelters in Renton, a potentially manageable number to resolve. Unfortunately, they are not all in a position to move to a subsidized apartment. Some need treatment or counseling, which can be obtained by connecting them with the Veterans Administration, DSHS, Catholic Community Services and other agencies.

We also have another group of homeless that live indoors, including couch surfers and families living in friend’s basements, and they still lack permanent addresses. In these cases, low-cost apartments, Section 8 housing and more living wage jobs are a good answer.

As mayor, I’ll ensure we have a coordinated plan to strategically use all our resources to get everyone out of tents, vehicles, and public areas, and into proper homes.

How would you tackle public safety in Renton?

On council, I’ve helped build new police and fire stations and added police officers and firefighters. I’ve also provided emergency responders with the tools and training they need to protect our residents and property. As mayor, I’ll track and improve police response times, and I’ll use community policing, special crime task forces and updated ordinances to further reduce crime. I’ll work closely with the Renton Fire Authority to continue making gains in fire-safety and emergency aid response times.

What would you do for Renton’s transportation issues?

I’ll help complete new lanes on I-405 to reduce cut-through traffic in our city and make our regional travel easier. During peak hours, 60 percent of car trips on our Renton streets do not start or stop anywhere in Renton and would go away if the freeway flowed properly. I serve on the I-405 Executive Committee and am uniquely positioned to improve this situation.

As Transportation Chair, I presided over the creation of a unified Transit Plan for Renton which coordinates many separate activities by different transit agencies. I’ve also served on the Metro Board and currently co-chair the Sound Transit Bus Rapid Transit Committee to ensure we get excellent transit service in the future. As Mayor, I’ll ensure the plans get fully implemented. We’ll move our transit center from downtown to Rainier and Grady, to serve both Metro and Sound Transit Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). This BRT Station and another at Exit 7 will provide fast access to light rail in Bellevue and Tukwila. The new Transit Center will also be planned as a future light rail station, to ultimately connect to the Tukwila International Blvd Station via a (currently un-funded) 3.7-mile rail connection. If there is a Sound Transit 4, Renton will get the light rail. I will also work with Metro to complete two additional Rapid Ride lines to Renton, one that connects us to the south with Kent and Auburn, and a second one that connects us north with Bellevue and Issaquah. Renton will also see improved metro service in all neighborhoods, as light rail in Seattle and Bellevue frees ups busses that get reassigned to Renton.

Starting in 2020, we will have a water taxi that connects us to Lake Union and potentially other locations on Lake Washington. I have ridden on the prototype, and it can get from Renton to the University of Washington in 18 minutes, even during peak hours, while offering bar services and WiFi. Residents will pay about 8 dollars for the crossing.

I’ll also make street improvements to make neighborhoods more livable, such as extending Park Avenue to Southport to reduce traffic on Lake Washington Boulevard and restoring two-way traffic from Lake Washington Blvd to Houser Way.

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

A thriving business environment provides jobs, services and entertainment options for our residents while providing tax revenue to run our city. Renton needs to do all we can to hold onto our existing businesses, attract new ones from elsewhere and incubate brand-new startups. As a council member, I have worked hard in all of these areas.

I helped launch our “Ahead of the Curve” marketing campaign decades ago and then followed it with meaningful recruitment and code changes to attract new business. The new businesses we’ve added, including IKEA, the Landing, Southport, Providence Healthcare, and hundreds of others, have added tens of millions of dollars per year to our city revenue, which has allowed us to improve the safety and desirability of our city without always going to homeowners for more money. We’ve also achieved a AAA bond rating, the highest possible.

An example future issue is an FAA-proposed reclassification of our airport, which is driving an Airport Master Plan process. The draft Master Plan calls for potentially taking 40 or more private properties including businesses in downtown Renton while simultaneously making changes within the airport that would reduce aviation business operations of all types. As mayor, I’ll use my aviation management and engineering background to ensure this plan does not cause unnecessary hardships to Renton businesses while still meeting safety objectives.

How do you see Renton in the future?

Downtown Renton will resemble Fremont, with a mix of fun and eclectic shopping, dining and housing opportunities alongside artisans, breweries and high-tech employers. The Landing and Southport will host modern and large scale shopping and high-tech employment, with fast water-taxi connection to tech hubs around the lake. Boeing will continue to break production records, and businesses all over town will be prospering.

Single-family neighborhoods will look similar to today, but with more sidewalks, trees, bus stops, solar panels, edible landscapes and corner coffee shops.

Renton’s residents will find it much easier to get to work and travel around, with more high-paying employment opportunities in town, a fast Bus Rapid Transit, Water-Taxi, train, and freeway connections to the rest of the region.

Renton Schools will be among the best in the country, and Renton Technical College will offer many more four-year degrees. Renton’s population will be increasingly diverse, as people from all cultures fully engage their talents and experiences to make Renton the most desirable address in the region.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

State loosens cougar hunting restrictions

The regulations will impact 19 areas around the state.

American Medical Response (AMR) organized a parade of first responders to show appreciation for St. Elizabeth Hospital staff April 30. Photo by Ray Miller-Still/Sound Publishing
The complications of counting COVID deaths in Washington

State relies on results of tests and death certificates in calculating the daily toll of the disease.

Renton City Hall. File photo
Renton cuts costs, furloughs staff due to COVID-19

City is trying to recover some of the nearly $22.5 million it will lose in revenue from shutdown.

Republicans file lawsuit over Inslee’s emergency: ‘Facts, and the science, are clear’

Lawsuit says state has violated Constitutional rights of citizens.

The Regional Homelessness Authority was created by agreement in December 2019. Pictured: King County Executive Dow Constantine shakes hands with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. Courtesy photo
Regional homelessness authority takes first step amid COVID-19

The authority held its first meeting on Thursday.

Among the candidates for Washington state governor in 2020: (Top row, L-R): Omari Tahir Garrett, Winston Wilkes, Thor Amundson, Cameron Vessey, Martin ‘Iceman’ Wheeler, Ryan Ryals; (middle row L-R): Liz Hallock, Goodspaceguy, Gov. Jay Inslee, Don Rivers, Gene Hart; (bottom row L-R): Phil Fortunato, Tim Eyman, Alex Tsimerman, Cairo D’Almeida, Cregan Newhouse, Raul Garcia.
GOP gubernatorial hopefuls aim to oust Inslee amid COVID-19

Former Bothell mayor Joshua Freed and initiative-pusher Tim Eyman could be the front-runners.

Nonprofit launches new online COVID-19 local resource hub for King County

Hub collects links for more than 300 local resources for people affected by virus.

Ex-boyfriend charged for 2017 murder of Renton woman

Richard Nelson, 41, fatally shot 27-year-old Crystal Hawkins and then left her body outside St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way in October 2017.

Most Read