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'We have accomplished much, yet much remains to be done': Q&A with Mayor Matt Larson
Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson is seeking his third term as mayor, and has a race on his hands this fall.
Larson is opposed by Ed Pizzuto in the general election.
Below, Larson, a former council member and planning commission member who moved to the Ridge in 1998 and took on full-time mayoral duties in his first term, answered questions about his vision and the city's needs.
Why are you seeking office?
I have derived great personal and professional satisfaction out of serving the residents of Snoqualmie these past eight years. We have accomplished much, yet much remains to be done.
We have, built a new City Hall, successfully weathered an historic recession, completed a very popular Snoqualmie Community Center, invested heavily in revitalizing the historic downtown (including flood-home elevations and Northwest Railway Museum projects). The Mill Site annexation is complete and holds great promise for creating economic development built around recreation and tourism. I have the experience, understanding and desire to guide us through the many complex challenges ahead.
What do you see the city's biggest current challenge as?
Our biggest challenge will be infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks, and underground city utilities. During the past several years, it has been an enormous fiscal challenge trying to rebuild the extensive failed infrastructure in the historic downtown. And while we have made great progress, the years ahead will become even more challenging as the Ridge infrastructure enters its first maintenance cycles and demands more resources. The City needs leadership that is willing to tackle this challenge head-on in order to address it successfully in the coming years.
What services does the city need to add or improve? Are there any services or staff you believe need to be cut?
The fire and police departments have had few staff increases during the past several years. We need to address these critically important areas as service demands continue to grow along with our population. This past year, we added two firefighters; one paid for with additional voter approved revenue and the second with a new transport fee. We now need to turn our attention to additional police staffing, beyond increases needed to serve our new North Bend contract. We must assure that all staff increases are fiscally sustainable. There are no areas that need to be cut at this time.
How would/do you balance the needs of residents and property owners with the need for things like business growth and more affordable housing?
We have extensive public involvement in the development of all planning and growth policies and when reviewing all development proposals. I commit to continuing such policies and procedures.
How can the city meet its infrastructure needs without putting an unfair burden on taxpayers and residents?
We must proactively and properly maintaining our current infrastructure. This requires that all taxpayers and residents accept the need and responsibility to take care of it. Neglect, while less burdensome in the short term, will create an exceedingly greater burden down the road due to costs that quickly multiply. We must choose to properly maintain infrastructure, at reasonable costs, or neglect and rebuild at unfair and exorbitant costs.
What kind of a place do you see Snoqualmie becoming in the next decade?
A continuation of today: A family focused town. A premier destination for rest, relaxation, recreation, and tourism. And a place with an exceptional quality of life for all residents.