The three candidates vying for Snoqualmie City Council Position 2 are Katherine Ross, Elaine Amstrong and Anna Sotelo. Ross is the incumbent council member for the position.
Biographies from each candidate:
Katherine Ross: I am running for re-election for Snoqualmie City Council Position 2. It is my honor to serve Snoqualmie citizens as chair of the Public Safety Committee, Finance and Administration Committee member and council liaison to Snoqualmie YMCA Board and the regional SCA Public Issues Committee. Over the last 15 years, I’ve made a home in Snoqualmie with my husband and our twin daughters. My 20 years of business management experience, MBA, certificate for municipal leadership and service as a community volunteer for nearly two decades has prepared me to be a thoughtful, experienced and passionate leader. Please vote for me. For more information, please visit www.Katherine4Snoqualmie.com.
Elaine Armstrong: I am passionate about our environment and interpersonal justice. I earned my B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and M.S. from Portland State University. I earned teacher certification in biology and taught advanced placement biology, zoology and microbiology. As a special education teacher, I worked with some of the most developmentally challenged youth. In 1991, ARC of Benton County named me Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Now retired, I work with citizens and members of Congress to create the political will for a sustainable and just economy and a climate policy that protects future generations.
Anna Sotelo: My family and I have lived in Snoqualmie for over 14 years. I have enjoyed raising my kids in a safe city that still has a small-town feel, good schools and a great place to run a successful business.
I bring firsthand business experience from owning and operating Ana’s Family Style Mexican Restaurant successfully for 12 years. I know what it takes and what is needed to “Provide an economic base that supports approved long-range city revenue goals.” (Goal #1 City Council Objectives 2019-2020) I am excited to contribute my knowledge to strengthen our city’s economic development goals.
I enjoy volunteering for various local organizations and was a board member of The Tanner Jeans Memorial Foundation and Sno-Valley Wildcats Junior Football and Cheerleading Association.
City training and work sessions I have attended include 2018 Snoqualmie Citizens Academy, 2018 city of Snoqualmie ethics training, 2018 city of Snoqualmie Quasi-Judicial training, biennial budget planning sessions, 2019 and 2020 Biennial Budgets, city of Snoqualmie Capital Improvement Plan and city of Snoqualmie bond procedures and protocol.
I am confident in my preparation for this position and ask humbly for your support.
How will you work to increase Snoqualmie’s community involvement as the city continues to grow?
Ross: As a city councilmember, I believe public engagement creates opportunities for people to contribute to decision making for Snoqualmie’s policies and services. One of the council goals is to improve transparency and communications with our citizens by expanding our civic engagement plan. To work on this goal, I provided a capstone project proposal by Laura Schreiner, MPA graduate student, to city staff to assess Snoqualmie’s current public engagement. Laura interviewed many community members and prepared a comprehensive report, including recommendations to enhance public engagement.
The city council created a Public Engagement Committee with the purpose of gathering community perspective to help shape public policy, inform citizens and address specific concerns early in the decision-making process. To further our efforts, we started townhall meetings last December to cover a variety of important topics. To date, there have been three town hall meetings and a fourth meeting planned for September.
To accommodate our citizens’ schedules, we are holding a variety of public engagement events on different days, times and places. For example, I organized a “coffee with the council” and we have started meet and greets prior to the first council meeting of each month.
As a councilmember, I believe we are making progress and I will continue to work toward improving transparency and public engagement.
Armstrong: Citizen engagement should happen before growth is approved. The public should have a say in creating our new neighborhoods before variances and development are approved. Notifications should go out according to our code. Public hearings should be well communicated and at convenient times.
The current council has a siege mentality against the public. The record of the incumbent has been to limit the speech of residents. Her record has approved growth that does not fit with the character and beauty of our community. We need to reform City Hall to become more responsive to the public, not special interests.
Meaningful citizen involvement will happen when our government finally begins to create an atmosphere and culture of open cooperation and respect between the city and all residents.
The issues we face can be very complex and costly. As your council representative I will work to make all records and documents available to the public without red tape. I will open up our review processes so that every perspective is factored into city decision-making in the early stages. This will create a positive cycle of communication, trust and positive results.
Sotelo: As a consistent observer at Committee and Council meetings over the past two years, I have acquired tremendous insight into past and current plans, budgets and decisions, along with a solid understanding of the legislative process. I see a need for expanding outreach, increasing education and developing a culture of responsiveness for community concerns.
I believe opening our ears to our community provides a wealth of wisdom and experience. With the increasing influence of social media and technology in our lives we should optimize communication channels used to reach our community. Delayed citizen awareness leads to outcry and distrust. By actively educating and engaging citizens before the process, we can increase approval and enthusiasm.
I am committed to getting our youth more involved. I propose to add a “student council representative” modelled by Snoqualmie Valley School District and increase engagement with our students and educate them on the legislative process. Our youth are our future leaders.