Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

City of Lake Forest Park Council Position No. 3

The City Council is the legislative body for the City. The Council adopts local laws (ordinances) to secure the safety and assist the well-being of the city residents, the city's physical environment and amenities, and the city economy. The Council is responsible for approving financial expenditures and adopting the city budget as well as establishing policies and regulations in order to guide the city's future. The elected mayor serves as chief administrative officer for the city.
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
  • Candidate picture

    Benjamin Gonzalez O'Brien (NP) Professor of Political Science

  • Candidate picture

    John Wright (NP) Engineer / Construction Manager

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

What are the issues surrounding your city/town's infrastucture?

How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?

What is your commitment to senior citizens?

How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?

What are other major issues facing your city or town?

Of those listed above, which one is the most urgent?

What methods will you use to work with the mayor (if you have an elected mayor) or the city manager or administrator(if you have an chief administrator hired by the council)?

Phone (206) 466-2738
Email electbengobrien@gmail.com
Town where you live Lake Forest Park
Experience (300 characters max) I earned my Ph. D. in political science and have been teaching classes on American politics for close to a decade.
Lake Forest Park is not a bike or pedestrian friendly city and we need to work on creating more bike and walking paths so our residents feel safe walking our increasingly traffic-heavy streets. As a member of the City Council I would work to make our city more walkable and bikeable through infrastructure that fits with the aesthetics of Lake Forest Park.
Lake Forest Park has very little affordable housing and as someone who was homeless in his youth, I know how hard it is to transition back to housing after a period of having no fixed address. High rent in King County serves as a serious impediment to allowing people to get back on their feet, particularly when most rental properties require first, last, and deposit. The City Council should create a ten year housing plan that would include affordable housing for those residents who start to find themselves priced out of many rentals in our city.

We must also work in concert with surrounding cities, King County, and our state government to address addiction and mental health issues. More people should have access to rehabilitation services, which typically have long wait lists, and mental health services including assisted living where necessary. Cities cannot address the homelessness crisis alone and must work together if we are tackle this issue.
As part of Lake Forest Park's housing plan that I would work on as a member of the City Council, we must also focus on creating a better mix of housing in our city. Many of the houses in Lake Forest Park are larger single family homes on large lots, which can be hard to manage as people age. We should encourage the creation of cottage housing, mother-in-laws on existing properties, and in areas where appropriate, smaller apartments or condos.

The redesign of the Lake Forest Park Town Center presents an opportunity to build some housing targeted at seniors in our community. This would put them close to shopping, restaurants, and our police and local government.
I was one of the residents in Lake Forest Park who worked on Resolution 1606, which forbids local officials from inquiring into the immigration status of residents. I believe that as a member of the City Council, I am there to represent all residents of our city, regardless of their immigration status. I do not believe local government should participate in the enforcement of federal immigration policy.

Even prior to the signing of Resolution 1606, our outstanding police department in Lake Forest Park had an unofficial policy of not inquiring into immigration status. They were, and remain, dedicated to serving and protecting all members of our community, regardless of their immigration status, as should all local officials regardless of their personal opinions on immigration policy.
A lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the City Council. Pressure to further weaken our tree ordinance. The ST3 project that will give Lake Forest Park a new park and ride station and the potential redesign of the Town Center. This raises a number of issues in regard to zoning and what the community would like to see come out of the ST3 project. Increasing population pressures from population growth in King County that will bring traffic and potentially more development.
Transparency and accountability play a significant role in the other problems mentioned, so I think this is the most significant of the additional issues facing our city. Too often the city moves forward with plans without discussing these with residents first, whether they be changes to the tree ordinance, the vision for the redesign of the Town Center, or even how to deal with the pressures our city is feeling from increasing density, both here and in the surrounding areas. The City Council does not provide nearly enough opportunities for Councilmembers and residents to interact and for the latter to offer suggestions or ask questions. This needs to be fixed and this will be a focus of mine should I be elected.
I will work to develop an honest, open, and respectful relationship with both the mayor and city administrator.
Address Same as above
Phone (206) 963-7908
Email jwright4LFP@live.com
Town where you live Lake Forest Park Washington
Experience (300 characters max) Current: Two-term City Councilmember, Sr. Construction Manager for Consulting Engineering firm. Past: Resident Engineer with over 30 years of experience. Retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer and Combat Veteran. Husband, Father, Community Volunteer, Rotarian and youth football coach.
The most pressing issue facing Lake Forest Park involves the steps the City will take to prepare for Sound Transit investments coming in the coming years, and meeting the 18-month timeline for a workable agreement. Success involves crafting an agreement between the City representing LFP Citizens, Merlone-Geier Partners (the owner of our Town Center), and Sound Transit, who have committed to building a 300-stall structured transit facility in the City and instituting Bus Rapid Transit on SR-522. I believe that the ST-3 investments provide the opportunity to springboard re-development of the Town Center and provide new retail, dining, and entertainment opportunities for the city as well as providing the transit access facility that our city has needed for so long. LFP is also embarking on Safe Streets, Safe Highways, and Parks & Open space development plans that will provide improvements to our infrastructure and recreational opportunities for our citizens. I see a very bright future!
Our best response to homelessness is to continue to support regional community services and NUHSA (North Urban Human Services Alliance). Our City does not really have an identifiable ‘homeless’ population, but we do recognize the importance of acting locally on regional issues and addressing the human cost of opioid drug abuse, alcoholism, and mental illness. We owe it to our less fortunate neighbors to help as much as we are able.
As a senior citizen myself, my commitment to our seniors is to keep their taxes low so that those on fixed incomes can afford to stay in their homes, and to provide opportunities for seniors wanting to downsize to remain in our city. I know that many seniors in our community are looking to transition from the homes that they raised their families in to smaller more manageable properties that are easier for them to care for. For those who love our city and want to stay in Lake Forest Park, not many options exist for the type of housing they would seek in downsizing, and we need to work to provide those options. We are also currently working to provide more safe walking paths and sidewalks around the city, and with Metro and Sound Transit to provide shuttle services through the City and to access Link light-rail stations. Lake Forest Park must remain a great place for seniors!
I think most all of us would agree that our current immigration laws are in serious need of overhaul, and we should make comprehensive immigration reform a top national priority. Until then, we should follow the law as it is written. This is a primary responsibility of government and it is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of a free and orderly society. The worst thing we could do is to foster the impression that adherence to the laws of our country is voluntary and not mandatory, particularly to those new to our shores. I do not support turning our local police officers into immigration authorities or having them actively look for those residing here illegally, however I also do not support creating the impression for those here in violation of our immigration laws that they are being offered ‘sanctuary’ of any kind, because we are not in a position to do so legally and can not make them safe from deportation. We must be honest and clear.
Our proximity to Seattle is bringing us great pressure to increase our density and development as our land prices skyrocket, and that is threatening the special natural environment that makes our city such a unique pastoral oasis. Current regulations call for strict restrictions on residents in managing their tree canopies, but far more environmental impact comes from denuding our forests to site new developments and our regulations are seriously out of balance. Our people reside here because they love this environment, not in spite of it, and our regulations need to be adjusted to reflect that. New development should be regulated so that our forested character remains intact and the 'forest' remains in Lake Forest Park. I will continue to push to make that happen.
Most urgent is preparing for Sound Transit investment in the city, if only because we have about 18 months to put together a very complex and multi-faceted mutually-beneficial agreement, and this will be a very difficult task. It is urgent because, while this singular opportunity holds the promise to transform our city and ensure its long-term viability, if we are not ready when the investments are offered we may miss the opportunity altogether and they would be made in another city that is ready to accept them. If that happens our citizens will be paying for improvements that they may never see the benefits of, and that would be a monumental failure. We cannot let that happen!
The Mayor and I have a great deal of mutual respect for one another, and I'm thankful for his leadership every day. If we disagree on an issue we can talk it over and come to eventual decision on a course of action that is acceptable to us both. Our Mayor is the real deal, meaning that he says what he means and means what he says, and I find that kind of honest candor very refreshing and appealing. Lake Forest Park is very fortunate to have this kind of leadership!

VOTE411.org logo

Disclaimer:

All statements and videos are posted directly by the candidate, unedited by the League of Women Voters and do not express the views of the League. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.