Tim Harris and Tracey Yeager Blackburn are seeking Carnation City Council Position 3.
According to their candidate statements on the King County Elections website, Tim Harris is a data and applied scientist at Microsoft who attended California State University Sacramento.
Tracey Yeager Blackburn is an 11-year Carnation resident who works as a technology marketing and project management consultant. She holds a Bachelor of Science in business from Northern Illinois University.
The two candidates responded to a Reporter questionnaire.
As the greater Seattle area continues to grow exponentially, how do you plan to preserve the town’s character?
Blackburn: Carnation’s small-town character and charm are of the utmost importance to our community. It is why people move here, stay here and never want to leave here. The character of Carnation is about the spirit of the community, open communication with our neighbors and how we treat each other. Those who live here – whether they are new to Carnation or have generations of family living here — have chosen this city with one thing in common: We all love this town, and its small-town character and charm. We need to get back to that common ground, respect each other’s voices through open communication and welcome and revere visitors and residents alike. Our common ground brings us together, and our actions keep us together. One way of achieving this is through Carnation’s in-person, community events including Christmas in Carnation, the Fourth of July, the recent “Be Damn Ready” event, monthly “Coffee with Council” and our weekly farmers market from May through October. These are places where members of the community connect, communicate and get to know each other. Events like this, combined with a thriving downtown corridor, help us to know each other better by bringing us out of our homes, keeping us within our streets. Our community spirit, managed, sustainable growth and economic development need to work in unison to deliver a city that stays vibrant and sustainable for today, tomorrow and years to come — all of this to maintain our small-town character.
Harris: Carnation’s comprehensive plan must be brought into alignment with the growth targets cascaded by the state and King County. Our current plan calls for nearly three times the growth the state and county have budgeted for – which puts a strain on infrastructure and threatens the quality of life of Carnation’s citizens. Our central business district development standards need updating to make sure new development harmonizes with existing historic structures. I’ve talked to a lot of residents in Carnation who believe the short-sighted pursuit of maximum density in Carnation will lead to a diminished quality of life and a reduction in tax revenues as traffic makes our attractions more difficult to visit. Folks are worried that Redmond-like mixed use will dominate our small downtown, and that pressure will increase to raze the gathering places we currently enjoy while raising property taxes and forcing longtime residents to leave. Protecting our character means growing responsibly, while focusing on the needs of our friends and neighbors.
What will you do to create local job opportunities and foster the local economy?
Blackburn: Currently, there are no available storefronts for businesses in the central business district (CBD) of Carnation. As part of the city council, I will focus on working with city staff, planning board and other council members to work with developers that are building the types of businesses that we want to attract on our Main Street; companies that encourage our community to shop and work here. Local services such as a bank, pharmacy, bakery, micro-brewery and others, are some ideas of services that keep us from going outside of Carnation for these employment, entertainment and retail needs. A building like the new Confluence Building is an excellent example of a CBD storefront that fosters our local economic development and economy, but this is just one building. Carnation needs to continue working with people and businesses who want to serve our community in meeting our needs for sustainable and managed growth while maintaining our small-town character.
Harris: I will advocate for the city and the Chamber of Commerce to work more closely with one another to promote local businesses and services. Carnation’s municipal code needs to be updated to accommodate non-retail businesses in the central business district. The city also needs to invest in advertising itself as a desirable and more affordable alternative to other Eastside cities for light manufacturing and small offices. There are events occurring in and around Carnation all year that bring thousands of tourists to within a half mile of our central business district, and with a little work the city can partner with these events to draw tax dollars to our restaurants, bars and stores, and attract new businesses that cater to the participants of these events. Wayfinding and parking are issues today in Carnation that will only become worse as ad-hoc parking lots are lost to development, and it’s critical to the success of local business that it be convenient for people to stop in Carnation instead of just passing through.
The General Election is Nov. 5.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was cut for space. See the full story online at www.ValleyRecord.com.
What is one major improvement you hope to bring to Carnation?
Blackburn: The central business district project is the highest priority improvement for the city over the next 12 months. I can leverage my positive relationships with the stakeholders involved in collaboratively bringing the project to fruition. As an individual, the unique skills I have and one significant improvement I can bring to Carnation is improved proactive communications to the community. One of the things I hear most when talking to neighbors and friends is that they don’t know what is going on in the city. Where and how should they get their information? Facebook? The city’s website? Email? I have been a marketing and communications professional for almost 30 years and have been recruited to work for several Fortune 500 companies throughout my career. I plan on bringing that experience and expertise to open the lines of communications for the public, delivering accurate information in vehicles that reach our community but speaks to the individual. I’ve already taken a pro-active step in this effort by producing a podcast at www.electtraceyb.com/podcast, where I interview city officials to get their views and up-to-date information on the goings-on in the community. Additionally, I will leverage my professional background to work with the Chamber of Commerce and the city to support and cross-promote businesses and tourist attractions in Carnation and throughout the Valley. I plan on continuing this effort regardless of the results of this election.
Harris: About 25 percent of Carnation’s residents are children under the age of 18. Many have both parents working, go to school 10 miles away and can’t participate in extracurricular activities because of transportation concerns. It’s time Carnation invested in a community center to provide a safe place for people of all ages to come, but especially for school-age kids to enjoy and have access to activities. I’ve lived in small towns where the community center had a public swimming pool, weight room, classrooms, computers and places for the sheriff to park and do paperwork or take a shower. They saved money by putting City Hall in the same building. They made their kids a priority. With nearly half of 10th graders in the Riverview School District reporting struggles with anxiety and depression, and nearly a quarter of high school seniors reporting thoughts of suicide, the need for a place to come together for help, friendship and physical activity is critical. A project like this would be a challenge to pull off financially, but I believe the state, county and school district could be convinced to step up, and I believe an asset like this would benefit everyone in the city.
What are your budget priorities and why?
Blackburn: My budget priorities will always be to have a sustainable city that has the revenue required to provide essential services to the community including public safety such as police services, human resources including support and grant funding for our senior center and the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network (SVCN), and capital improvements like street repairs and maintenance and our sewer system. The city needs to be able to maintain itself during times of a thriving economy, as well as a recession. I have lived through both, and my priority is to make sure we always have a balanced, sustainable budget, to support essential services to the community – without compromise. This requires managed and sustainable growth and economic development. The budget will be approved shortly after the election. I regularly attend council meetings so I am prepared, particularly on a budget, once elected to office.
Harris: I have three main priorities when it comes to the city’s budget. First, I expect our budget to prioritize infrastructure and services for existing citizens of Carnation. Infrastructure improvements required to bring more homes and traffic into Carnation need to be borne by developers, and the city must stop signing off on unfinished work. Sidewalks ought not be optional – especially along major arterials. Second, I believe Carnation needs to invest more in its information systems to be proactive and fully transparent in communication with its citizens. People don’t have the time or ability to come into City Hall anytime they want to see documentation for projects that will radically alter the city. Information asymmetry breeds distrust between citizens and the city, and needs to be eliminated. Last, Carnation needs to sell itself. It needs to collaborate with event promoters, King County Parks, and advertise itself as a place where there are opportunities to build businesses outside the insanely expensive Eastside cities – while still being convenient to them all.