Growth, traffic top campaign issues in Redmond City Council races
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
It's only October, but the race for Redmond City Council is experiencing the snowball effect.
With Rosemarie Ives not seeking re-election for mayor, two Redmond City Council members, Jim Robinson in Position 7 and John Marchione in Position 1, are leaving their seats open in order to run for that job. That leaves four Redmond City Council positions up for grabs, with one race unopposed.
Hank Meyers, a transportation planner, is running unopposed for Position 1. Meyers is currently serving the remaining portion of John Resha's term in Position 7. The City Council appointed Meyers to the seat in September, after Resha announced his resignation from the council.
Candidates in each race are grappling with how to plan for the growth the city must absorb, tame traffic and maintain quality of life.
The race for Redmond City Council Position 2 pits Brian Conlin, an education advocate, against Hank Margeson, a member of the parks board.
Both candidates want to improve the business climate and agree that decreasing traffic congestion and commute times are foremost for Redmond residents.
Conlin said trail connections could be improved to promote walking and bicycling as commute options.
He said efforts to improve congestion and parks have focused on Education Hill, "where the majority of City Council lives," and he would make sure that future improvements are better distributed.
Margeson said he would encourage Redmond to work with employers to offer more incentives for alternative commuting modes, and would make sure Redmond works with neighboring cities to tackle traffic.
Though neither has served on the council, both Conlin and Margeson have been involved in Redmond politics.
Conlin campaigned to defeat the property-tax levy lid lift proposed for Redmond in 2006, which he said failed because it did not fully account for how the money would be spent.
Margeson has served on the parks and recreation board since 2004 and helped get this year's successful parks levy on the ballot. Both candidates expressed concern over a lack of affordable housing.
To that end, Margeson supported an update to the comprehensive plan that allows for accessory dwelling units as a way to expand housing options in the neighborhood, he said.
David Carson, a software test engineer, faces off against Brian Seitz, a senior marketing communications manager for Microsoft.
Carson is a former member of King County's election and oversight committee, and campaigned against Redmond's failed 2007 property-tax levy, which was not specific enough to warrant approval, he said. He is also a board member of Mamma's Hands, a Bellevue nonprofit that serves abused and homeless women.
When it comes to managing growth, Carson believes Redmond needs to protect the property rights of its residents, while Seitz wants Redmond to make it easier for citizens to access information and lodge their opinions, particularly about development.
The two candidates clash in their attitudes toward bicycling as a commuting alternative.
Carson believes Redmond's decision to put bicycle lanes on both sides of West Lake Sammamish Parkway, while Bellevue put a bike lane on only one side, was a mistake partly because the process was influenced by those who do not live in the city.
Seitz, who said he is an occasional bike commuter, believes Redmond has not lived up to its past reputation as a bike-friendly city and should do more to create connections for commuters who combine multiple transportation modes. He also supports more in-city transportation options, such as a shuttle bus or streetcar, to cut down on local traffic, he said.
Both say Redmond needs to do more to promote businesses.
Incumbent Richard Cole faces challenger Michallea Schuelke for position 5.
Cole, who was first elected to the council in 1988, is finishing his fifth term.
Schuelke, a member and former president of the Lake Washington School District PTSA Council, is making her first bid for a council seat.
Both agree Redmond needs to increase revenues and better manage its budget process, but disagree on how that can be accomplished.
Cole said he is running for what will likely be his last term because he hopes to "help the city get its financial health back."
Key to this is budget prioritization that starts by looking at desired results, rather than previous budgets.
This is something that has "long been missing" in Redmond, Cole said, and it's why he persuaded the council to approve funding for a consultant to help the city adopt the new approach.
Schuelke said Redmond has already identified public safety as a top priority, and nonetheless failed to use general funds to pay for all of it.
Cole is at least partly accountable for that, she added, since " a lot of the budget issues we're facing is under his watch."
She believes it's the wrong time to implement the new budgeting approach. The process would be better served by improved communication between the city and its residents, and by incorporating citizens' desires in budget decisions, she said.
Cole said he voted against the last two budgets because they did not reflect his priorities or those of his constituents.
"I don't think anybody was really happy with the process we've had," he said.
Amy Roe: 206-464-3347 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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