The Snoqualmie Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum for city council Position 2 on July 23.
The forum was moderated by Brian Decorah, president and CEO of Snoqualmie Casino. Incumbent Katherine Ross, Elaine Armstrong and Anna Sotelo represented the three candidates running for the council position.
Ross has lived in Snoqualmie for more than 15 years with her husband and twin daughters. She has 20 years in business experience as an internal auditor for PACCAR, allowing her to manage budgets and learn about fiscal responsibility. Ross sits on various committees both in Snoqualmie and regionally.
Sotelo and her family have lived in Snoqualmie for more than 14 years. She brings a business background from successfully owning and operating Ana’s Family Style Mexican Restaurant for the last 12 years. Sotelo has attended many council and committee meetings for the past two years.
Armstrong has been a resident of Snoqualmie for 11 years. She was a teacher for more than 30 years, where she helped educate and find jobs for people with developmental disabilities. Since retiring, Armstrong joined the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and has met with members of Congress in order to work towards worldwide sustainability.
Ross is focused on expanding affordable workforce housing and senior living to combat increasing growth in the city. She said many seniors are being displaced from their homes, so assisted living and nursing homes would potentially help the growing community.
“Thousands of people commute here everyday, yet can’t afford to live here,” Ross said. She aims to minimize congestion on the roads.
Armstrong questioned the cost of infrastructure as developers continue to expand. She said it is important that taxpayers and residents not be responsible for determining what infrastructure is required for all the new development.
“I think it is very dangerous if we expect to shove people as densely as possible into our area,” Armstrong said. She believes any growth should be thoughtful and careful.
Sotelo said she is committed to reasonable growth. She highlighted the importance of having enough resources before taking on development and building additional infrastructure.
When discussing affordable housing, Armstrong said she would like to see transparency for the costs of units to know that they are actually reasonably priced. Sotelo wants to improve rent control and encourage the council to not let these goals stay parked. Ross briefly talked about the addition of 191 multifamily units for families with low income coming soon to Snoqualmie.
In a question about the annexation of Snoqualmie Falls, Sotelo and Armstrong expressed similar interests in taking time to plan development and grow infrastructure.
“I would really like to see that we plan before we proceed,” Sotelo said.
Armstrong suggested traffic studies that cover the entire area. She wants to gather input from everyone, especially residents.
“I think we need to slow down and really look at what is the impact of these large numbers,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think we’re in a big hurry. We are growing plenty fast.”
In relation to revenue, Armstrong wants to work on getting leaner as a city and to respect the money of residents in such a small community. Sotelo agued that Snoqualmie’s retail needs are unique because Snoqualmie does not have the population to support them, like other cities.
Ross would like to make property taxes less reliant and solidify a tourism plan, especially with the influx of visitors for Snoqualmie Falls. She referenced a potential city-wide tourism plan to be completed in the fall.
Nine questions were asked throughout the duration of the forum and each candidate was given two minutes to respond.
The primary election is Aug. 6, followed by the general election on Nov. 5.