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Snoqualmie council hopefuls Heather Munden, Terry Sorenson weigh in on city changes
In the Nov. 5 general election, Snoqualmie voters will choose between two candidates for Position 5, Terry Sorenson or Heather Munden.
The Valley Record questioned both candidates about Snoqualmie’s needs, and their objectives, if elected. The following are their responses.
1: What is the city’s role in making sure that anyone can afford to live in Snoqualmie? How would you balance that responsibility with the needs of property owners?
2: How will you determine whether the shared police services agreement with North Bend, beginning in March 2014, is a success? What are your criteria for judging that?
3: What do you think Snoqualmie’s infrastructure needs (streets, parks and pipes) are, considering Ridge growth is essentially done? How should the city pay for updates to its aging amenities?
4: What is your approach to economic development? How would you work to revitalize downtown businesses, and on a related note, what do you think of some downtown business owners’ proposal for a traffic “loop” through the city? Would it work, why or why not?
1: Elected officials need to keep taxes and fees as low as possible. Many citizens live on limited income and every penny can matter. Reasonable regulations also make it easier to encourage businesses to locate in Snoqualmie. The more local jobs we create, the more affordable we make it for all of us.
2: We need to have monthly meetings with the (Police) Chief to look at crime stats for both North Bend and Snoqualmie. We want both city’s crime stats to go down. Success to me means we help improve North Bend’s crime rate without affecting the safety of our citizens.
3: In 2017, Ridge construction should end. We will need to be very selective on what improvements we will make after that. Our revenues will dramatically drop after construction ends. Utility rates could fix some pipes and block grants could be used for parks and streets. Many of our parks and streets need improvement. We use a six-year transportation plan to prioritize our streets and sidewalks.
4: We need to continue to find ways to get our tourists to spend money in our shops. We should continue to work with the Chamber of Commerce. Our business owners must be part of the decision making and coming up with solutions to get these tourists from the Falls and casino into the shops. We must make it more business friendly. I have heard from those interested in opening a business that we make it much more burdensome than most cities. Many have said they follow exactly what staff says and then new requirements are added later.
1: It is the city’s role to support the conditions necessary for sustainable job growth and the building of a durable local economy. These include two key economic drivers: innovation and regional collaboration. I am endorsed by King County building, affordable housing, and realtor organizations, because in part, I promote the approach to controlled growth that keeps our stock of income-qualified housing sprinkled throughout the city, and planned growth that continues to meet residential needs. I advocate the city maintains the current direction, continuing to recruit reputable organizations to construct and manage these units.
2: In order to measure success, a baseline needs to first be established. The 2013 police services survey included the following criteria: general safety, police department response, criminal activity, safety at local schools, public safety programs, communications, and demographic considerations. It is important to compare this baseline data with the responses of North Bend and Snoqualmie residents during the upcoming 2014 after-action reviews and follow-up 2014 police services survey. These important assessments should be conducted annually. Results from the 2013 and upcoming 2014 surveys are how I will evaluate success. Public safety is a key component of my campaign.
3: The failed downtown infrastructure needs continued, expensive attention, while Ridge infrastructure is entering its first maintenance cycle. This is Snoqualmie’s current priority and greatest short-term challenge. The city needs to devise a cost-sharing program for downtown residential street rebuilds. Without additional revenue, the city simply cannot afford to rebuild all downtown neighborhoods. The remaining build-out of Snoqualmie Ridge, the annexed Mill Pond site, and other areas within our urban growth area, need to be addressed using smart, planned growth. All proposed development must require additional revenue streams and diversified tax structures for the city to allocate toward current and future infrastructure needs.
4: Snoqualmie has a severe economic problem with retail leakage; 70 percent of residents’ retail purchases take place outside of Snoqualmie. My approach to economic development is to actively recruit community involvement when working with public, private, and nonprofit sectors, to build a stronger community and economy. It is important to leverage the city’s general fund with matching grants, and use these funds as seed money to be combined with public, private and nonprofit funds. This approach, used for Phase I of the downtown revitalization, maximizes the city’s funds.
I support the community dialogue that “loop” proposals are creating, and I promote an approach that supports all business districts equally within Snoqualmie. I am keenly aware of the economic opportunities and challenges Snoqualmie has and, if elected, I will continue to work on these important issues.