Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
I’ve worked hard to serve our City by volunteering as the President of the Kent School Board, Chairman of the Board for the Kent Chamber of Commerce, on the Board of the Green River College Foundation (with an emphasis on programs to assist veterans), and as a current member of the Kent City Council
Based on my long tenure in Kent, extensive service to the community, and deep management and leadership experience, I know that Kent is at a crossroads. As Mayor, I want the City to be more transparent about how the City is addressing these foreseen challenges, and why. I'm not a politician. I’m a public servant who’s earned a reputation as a watchdog and strong advocate for the people. I believe that's the kind of Mayor that Kent needs, and I am prepared to maintain that standard in office.
In Kent, three major issues include:
1. The potential reduction of current revenue sources: the annexation sales tax credit ends in June 2020 (around $4.7mil) and we need to prepare for that loss of a major funding source;
2. Providing affordable housing for our citizens from all demographics; and
3. Addressing the increased crime rates and the proportional increase in gun violence in South King County.
This is a difficult question because I feel that all three of these issues are equally critical in our city. If I were to pick the most crucial, however, I would say that gun violence is the most critical because safety and feeling safe in our city is of the utmost importance.
I believe that our senior citizens are an important facet of our diverse community here in Kent. As public safety chair, I’ve been involved at local SHAG housing forums to address issues with our police department. I’ve been very responsive to complaints that come from the age demographic and for years our Kiwanis club would have a senior breakfast the day before Easter, and the Golden Steer would be the sponsor for that event. I’m currently involved with a number of homeless feeding programs which involve senior citizen participants as well, including the over 400 needy citizens, including seniors, that are fed annually when my wife and I host a Thanksgiving dinner at the Golden Steer.
As someone who was born in Puerto Rico and moved to California when I was seven years old, I have firsthand experience in what these immigrant families are experiencing today. So long as these individuals are enhancing and engaging productively in our community they are a benefit to us. As soon as they begin degrading our community by breaking the laws and taking away from our economy and available services, however, I believe that they should be held accountable with due process.
During the recession, we deferred maintenance on our roads, sidewalks, and parks. I led the effort to protect B&O dollars to be used solely for road maintenance as well as ensuring $4mil will be given to parks over the next two years without raising taxes here in Kent.
Homelessness is an issue near and dear to my heart and my wife and I participate in numerous programs to help address it personally. But homelessness is an issue much larger than Kent. I truly believe, having co-chaired the “City of Kent Homelessness Taskforce” in 2012, that homelessness needs to be addressed by the entire community. . Collaborating with existing programs within and outside of our city, and addressing it as a regional issue, is how the City of Kent helps to quell homelessness.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
I have served as council member for 6 years including 2 as council president. I am a member of many regional committees primarily focused on transportation. I am endorsed by Kent Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Teachers and many regional elected officials as well as Labor.
I have lived in Kent my entire life and seen it change in many ways - some good, some bad. I am running for Mayor because I want to be a part of shaping the future of our city. It is time for bold leadership and someone who is willing to make tough decisions.I am frustrated with the lack of vision and want to be a part of changing that. I believe the City of Kent has tremendous potential. I want make Kent a place of opportunity for all residents.
Upcoming loss or revenue - we will be losing nearly $5m in annexation tax credit in 2020 and will potentially be losing an additional $5m in Streamline Sales Tax mitigation. We have to plan for these losses and be strategic in future investments.
Lack of maintenance - we have not done a good job of maintaining streets and parks. The longer we delay - the more expensive it will become.
Our community is the 10th more diverse in the nation. We need to work to engage our diverse population.
Loss of revenue is the most critical because it impacts every other thing we need to do in the city. Without sustainable funding sources we cannot maintain our infrastructure which makes economic development difficult. We cannot provide the programs our community relies on. We cannot fully staff our police department to insure a safe community.
I am fully committed to the senior citizens of Kent. As a council member I have advocated for many senior programs including our home repair program, shopper shuttle and our senior center. I have also worked with the King County Assessor to make sure our residents are aware of programs for low income senior property tax reductions.
Kent is the 10th most diverse city in the nation. It is our responsibility to make sure all of our resident, regardless of immigration status, feel safe. We are working with our immigrant community to make sure they understand that if they are the victim of a crime, our officers will not ask about their status. We want to protect all of our residents.
During the recession, maintenance on city building, streets, parks and vehicles was delayed. We now have a significant backlog of maintenance in all areas. The council passes several dedicated funding sources for streets. Parks and other facilities have not been addressed. As a result there is $60m in deferred maintenance needed on our park system. I believe there is a way to begin work on this backlog with some strategic reallocation of existing funds.
The city has a responsibility to all of our residents - those with homes and those without. The city needs to continue to partner with a variety of social service and faith based agencies to make sure the needs of our homeless population are being met and they are being moved toward permanent housing. I also believe we must engage with surrounding cities to develop a regional strategy.