Briarcrest / Ridgecrest forum asks the tough questions of Shoreline council candidates

Saturday, October 14, 2017

By Diane Hettrick

Candidates for contested Shoreline Council seats took a lot of deep breaths before tackling the complex and thoughtful questions presented at the Briarcrest / Ridgecrest / Shoreline Area News candidate forum on Thursday evening at the Prince of Peace church on 20th NE.

Multi-part questions dealt with city-wide issues, some immediate, such as their position on injection sites, and others very long-range, such as their ideas on homelessness.

Other questions dealt with affordable housing, income tax, property taxes, upcoming bond issues, and rezone issues of tree loss, open space, and infrastructure.

There were some sharp contrasts. Jin-Ah (pronounced Gina) Kim, running against Keith McGlashan, and Susan Chang running against Carolyn Ahlgreen for an open seat, both took very moderate views of past actions by the city council. "You don't get a magic wand when you become a council member," said Jin-Ah. Susan Chang had been part of many of the decisions in her role on the Planning Commission, and has been attending city council meetings since July.

Carolyn Ahlgreen, on the other hand, listed a litany of accusations against the current council, saying they had threatened Dreamers, parks, and threatened people who opposed them with arrest, that they were not acting as voices of the people and were failing to protect and defend citizens.

Moderator Sara Kaye of Briarcrest announced that she was getting rid of the first question, as the City Council voted unanimously Monday to take Hamlin Park off the list of sites under consideration for a maintenance yard, eliciting applause from the audience. Chang, Kim, and Ahlgreen still pointed out they had all participated in the protest. McGlashan said that after the first staff presentation he had a private meeting with the City Manager and advised her to remove Hamlin Park from the list.

All the candidates said they were opposed to "injection sites" except for Kim, who has a unique perspective as a recovered opioid addict. All agreed that Shoreline was a poor location for such a site and already has Therapeutic Health Services on Aurora.

A question about the new development at the post office site not having retail space elicited comments about wanting restaurants and businesses, but noting the number of empty storefronts in North City.

A question of what to do about homelessness elicited several comments about finding the roots of the problem and developing solutions. One commented that the family whose rent was raised is in a different situation from an alcoholic / drug addict who is on the street and require different solutions. Ahlgren referred to addicts' choice to continue using as an impediment to solutions.

Councilmember McGlashan said that he served two years on the King county Committee to End Homelessness in Ten Years, which had every social service and government in the county represented. He said "after two years of work on the committee, I feel more hopeless now than when we started."

The Shoreline Council candidates will appear together for the last time at the Chamber of Commerce forum on Tuesday, October 17, 7pm at the Crest Theatre in Ridgecrest. (see article)


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