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Meet the Fall City Park Commission
Five Fall City residents are vying for seats on the board of the new Fall City Park District, which is slated to go before voters in an all-mail election Tuesday, Feb. 3.
If voters approve the new district, parks commissioners will be seated for their first term. The length of that term depends on how many votes each commissioner receives, with the candidate receiving the most votes serving longer before having to run for reelection.
The two candidates with the most votes are elected to six-year terms. The next two serve for four-year terms, and the one with the least votes serves a two-year term.
The Valley Record asked all five candidates to discuss the park district, their passions, and their reasons for running for office.
Wilkins, a 13-year resident of Fall City, was a founding force in the push for a park district. He works as an account manager for a life sciences company, and said he is running to give Fall City local control of its parks.
“It feels good to be doing something that could affect Fall City in a positive way,” he said.
“Fall City has been overlooked by King County for far too long,” he said. “We pay a lot of taxes for recreation and parks, and King County does not spend any of that money here.
“I have two kids and I want them to have nice public places to play,” he added.
“We need to keep and add to the public lands that are in Fall City,” he said. “If we do nothing, we will get nothing. If we put a park district in place, we will get more out of it than we put into it.”
Wilkins referred to a planned 9.7-cent tax per $1,000 of property value being considered by the commissioners. “For $9.70 per $100,000 of property value, we will have a voice and we will be able to ask for county, state, federal and private monies to improve the public spaces in Fall City. And, we will leave Fall City a better place to live.”
Moderow, a nine-year resident of Fall City, works in architectural design. She said she is running for office because parks are her passion, and there is a need for community members to serve.
“We need to keep our parks in the hands of singularly dedicated and publicly elected stewards,” Moderow said. “Over the long term we need to expand the recreational options and the quality of the maintenance to our parks. This is best done by publicly elected volunteers.”
Parks and their uses could disappear without any input from the public, she added.
“I hear a resounding desire for more kinds of public active spaces, and as development continues to encroach on our rural community, it is important to balance the need for green space and the need for outdoor recreation.”
Harris is a civil engineer in Bellevue who believes stewardship of Fall City parks should be managed and maintained locally. He is a nine-year resident of Fall City and lifelong King County resident.
“I am excited for the opportunity to represent Fall City,” Harris said. “I believe that my enthusiasm for this effort to form a new park district, coupled with my professionalism and appreciation for the serious issues associated with operating a new public agency, will add value to the community and the park district itself.”
Harris said the most important first job of the district is to take care of existing parks, securing the transfer of Fall City Park and Quigley Park from King County to the new park district.
“All park improvement priorities will ultimately need to be balanced by the fiscal realities of the park district budget,” he said.
Schneidler works for the city of Seattle’s Department of Transportation as a homeland security and emergency preparedness specialist.
A five-year resident of Fall City, Schneidler said he would bring 30 years of private business experience and 12 years in public service to the board.
“If we lose control of our parks to those who may not share the values and interests of the residents of Fall City, the current park land could be converted to uses that would not only fail to contribute to Fall City, but could adversely impact our community,” he said. “The new tax is nominal. From a purely business perspective, I’d think a vibrant community and park system would more than offset the investment.”
Debbie Pettersson is a parks and recreation professional with a focus on environmental education and wellness.
“I think we are at a critical decision point regarding the existing public parks and the potential loss of these lands,” Pettersson said.
“I feel my years of experience and passion for Fall City will be a benefit,” the 10-year Fall City resident said. “After 20 years in this profession, I feel I have a well-rounded and balanced perspective of how park systems work and the benefits they can provide to a community.