Incumbent Matt Laase is seeking reelection to the Position 5 seat on the Snoqualmie City Council this November.
Laase was first elected to the council in 2017 after defeating challenger Terry Sorenson, receiving over two-thirds of the vote. This time he is challenged by newcomer Tanya Lavoy. With the election scheduled Nov. 2, The Valley Record sat down with Laase to ask him about his priorities if re-elected. The following conversation has been edited for brevity. .
Tell me about your background?
I’m a long-time resident of Snoqualmie, lived here for 21 years, and spent four years on council and prior to that I spent three years on the planning commission, and have also been involved in many community activities. I am a licensed architect and own a business in Seattle. Most of my work is in commercial architecture.
If elected, what would your top priorities be?
I have very similar priorities to when I was elected back in 2017. In no particular order, my current goals are to continue to be a voice in the fiscal responsibility for Snoqualmie. I think as a city, we need to be aware of the situation we’re in, both with COVID and otherwise. In an uncertain time, I believe the city needs to take care of its needs before it moves on to its wants — which includes balancing the budget, which we did for the first time two years ago prior to COVID. I believe through my efforts, and in working collaboratively with the other councilmembers, we can create a situation to balance the budget.
A second item is addressing the needs of our infrastructure, primarily the condition of the Snoqualmie Parkway. Everyone is aware of the crack sealing that’s been going on to stem the tide of the deterioration of that road. I believe very strongly that that road needs to be paid for in conjunction with the partners that use that road, namely the state and King County. Plus all of the other independent parties that travel along that road, whether it’s trucking companies or shipping companies or others. I also believe that the city should consider implementing a user fee for those companies that use the road or are traveling with vehicles that are greater than the prescribed gross vehicle weight. A lot of the damage that has happened on the parkway over the years has been because of larger trucks that it was never designed to carry.
Last thing I’ll mention as a priority is housing affordability for Snoqualmie residents. Right now, it is almost impossible for anyone that works a service position to afford to live in the city. Service positions would be your grocery or or food and beverage type workers, but it also includes teachers and firefighters and police officers postal workers and others. They are not able to afford living in city, which pushes them to outlying areas, which increases the traffic, which has increased transit time, which really is not beneficial for the city. As a community, I believe the city has had numerous opportunities to partner with outside providers but some have shown resistance. Those that can afford to be in the community from a work standpoint, should be able to afford to be in the community as a living standpoint.
What skills or strengths do you have that makes you an effective councilmember?
I believe I’m very much a collaborator. That’s something that comes with being an architect. We work with a lot of different entities or clients or consultants or outside agencies, including cities. So I really look at myself as being someone that is open to collaboration and finding solutions. I believe in every case there is a win-win situation, which I think is something that a councilmember needs to do at a city level.
I also feel like I’m a really good communicator. I think it’s clear that I do the research and I look at the information that’s been provided. I reach out to the community on items that I have concerns with and want to know what the community members feel. I believe I also do a good job of communicating that within council and pushing forward with ideas and options to items that may not always be readily apparent.
One of the council members I looked up to was Charles Peterson. Charles always had a methodology of you may not agree with what’s in front of you, but he would work to make it better and I think my role on council the last four years has very much been about that. It’s been about looking at what’s being proposed, it’s looking at what’s available to us, and if I don’t feel it’s, it’s the best thing for Snoqualmie, I don’t dismiss it, but I work strongly with the other council members and the mayor to make it better.
When you have a new development or a project that comes to the city, how do you decide if it’s worth implementing?
Right now, in Snoqualmie, there is very little available property for development. Most of the property that is available for development is in our urban growth area. So when somebody comes with a proposal the first thing I’ll look at is, is it providing a need or a service to the city that is beneficial? The second thing I’ll look at is does that benefit outweigh any costs? Does it provide what we’re looking for in terms of what might be at risk that goes along with it? Not necessarily financial risks, but also just cultural risks.
Snoqualmie has a hundred years of history and that history shouldn’t be dismissed. So when someone comes forward with a proposal, ‘Hey, I want to develop this,’ or ‘I want to do that,’ that maybe doesn’t fit perfectly in our prescribed municipal code, and we have to make a decision, I weigh it against facts and I weigh it against the history of the community. I look at it from the standpoint of what’s going to, what’s going to make what decisions would make the community a better place.
Why do you want to be on the city council?
I am on council and I feel that my role on council has been a positive one. It has contributed to some strength and stability of our community, both for the residents that live here and the businesses that operate here. I feel that I am in a position to continue to lead Snoqualmie. I have been participating in all of the different committees that have that are available to us and not just sitting back and letting only the things that I’m involved in be what I keep an eye on. What makes me a good councilmember are the same things that I think the community wants: someone that’s going to listen, someone that will take facts, and not fiction, and make good decisions.
I believe the last four years have been really good decision making processes. One of the things that I’m really incredibly proud of is my participation in the ad hoc committee to look at the COVID relief response, where we attributed nearly every penny received in funds back to the community. It wasn’t put into government programs. It wasn’t put into other activities to support Snoqualmie infrastructure or other things, it was given to the community. I think that’s something that I believe will continue in my role and I would continue to support the community in any way.
I’d like to thank everyone, residents, business owners and visitors to the city for the last four years. I hope that they’ll see my record and see the things that I participated in and how I represented the community with integrity and passion, and would look to reelect me as a city councilmember.