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Snoqualmie council race: Kevin Ostrem wants unique identity, strong economy for Snoqualmie
Snoqualmie residents have two choices to make in city council races this fall. One contested race pits incumbent Jeff MacNichols, in his eighth year on the council, against challenger Kevin Ostrem.
Both candidates share concerns about growth, the economy and quality of life, but differ on some priorities, notably the planned lower Snoqualmie mill annex.
Ostrem sees a lot of good things in today's Snoqualmie. But the challenger for Snoqualmie City Council's position 2 seat also has his eye on some new directions. A former small businessman and current Microsoft employee, Ostrem wants to strengthen the city's economy and do more for young people. He also takes a cool view on annexation plans at the former Weyerhaueser mill.
How long have you lived in this city? What do you do for a living?
I have lived in Snoqualmie with my wife Christa and our two children for 11 years. I have worked atMicrosoft for 17 years, 12 as a full time employee and 5 as a contractor. I am primarily a Project/programmanager and currently work in the Macintosh Business unit in Redmond.
What is the biggest reason you are running for office?
I was a small business owner prior to Microsoft so I understand what our small business owners are goingthrough and I can bring a lot of experience to the table that would benefit the city.
What do you hope to accomplish as a council member?
There are many things I would like to accomplish as a council member but my top three are:
• Bring strong companies to the business park and retail spaces.
• Keeping our community unique, and making Snoqualmie a destination for visitors.
• I want to ensure we meet the needs of our youth population especially as they get older.
What do you think Snoqualmie's biggest challenge is today?
The biggest challenge we face today and in the future are lack of involvement from residents. Go to council meetings, ask questions, get involved. I've attended council meetings where there is one or two residents and the rest of the people are city employees. We won't see eye to eye on every issue but community involvement can help overcome challenges we will face in the future.
How would you accommodate the concerns of residents and business in the Mill Annex area?
This is the hot topic issue right now, and I have a unique view on the whole thing. I grew up near the Bremerton raceway and as the raceway grew, property values went down, and quality of life went down as a result. The road getting to the raceway hasn't changed in 40 years, there aren't sidewalks and you can forget about a bike lane. I have fond memories as a kid riding my bike with my friends late into the summer nights. I also had a few terrifying close calls with vehicles speeding on their way to the track. I will listen to the Pro-Annex folks but it would take a lot to convince me this is a good idea. I 'm of the opinion: annexation will quickly overwhelm our city resources and negatively impact our quality of life.
How would you ensure transparency to the public on the council?
Our city is amazingly transparent, just call and ask one of the city employees any question you have. I'm currently in the Snoqualmie Citizens Academy, which I highly recommend by the way, and I feel we sometimes forget city administration and employees are Fathers, Mothers, Sons, Daughters, and Parents. Many of these people live in the community and have a vested interest in making Snoqualmie a great place to live. If anything, I'd like to see the council debate the issues a little more at meetings and if elected, would encourage more of this, other than that I feel the city encourages transparency very well.
Do you think Snoqualmie would be well-served by more growth?
I would encourage responsible growth. Getting businesses in our business park and adding tenants to our many empty retail spaces would be a good start. I want to keep growth in line with our infrastructure so we aren't negatively impacting residents or putting a strain on our city services. We are at the point where we need to start planning infrastructure repair and improvements. I am a capitalist at heart, but I don't want to see chain stores and fast food lining our streets.
Do you think there is a divide between old and new residents? How would you fix it?
There was a divide and if it does exist I don't hear people talking about it now. Historic Snoqualmie and the Ridge are one city, we need each other to build a strong vibrant community and we need to respect each other’s points of view. I believe the community has put the whole us/them attitude behind them as we have bigger problems to deal with.
What's something about you that your neighbors may not know?
I enjoy board games and video games. I don't have as much time to play as I'd like but my family tries to play a board game once a month. A few years ago, I worked with a friend to create an action packed board game encouraging kids/teens/adults to get up and move. The experience was great because I didn't know anything about the business side of gaming and overcame many challenges and obstacles. We designed the game, developed prototypes, packaging, rules and ad many hours of play testing. The game generated some interest but not enough to get the investment necessary to move forward with it.
• You can visit Ostrem's campaign site at http://kevinostrem.com/kevinostrem.com/Welcome.html