RBCA candidate forum - Part 2 - City Council and Ronald Commissioners

Saturday, October 12, 2019

By Diane Hettrick
Photos by Bob Pfeiffer

Part 1 of the forum notes, with Fire Commissioners and Shoreline School Board candidates, can be found here.

Note to RBCA: next time, seat the opposing candidates together.

Luis Berbesi and Keith Scully
Shoreline City Council

City of Shoreline, Council Position 6

Betsy Robertson
Luis Berbesi

Luis Berbesi seemed like he was auditioning for a stand up comedian instead of city council. He's not going to win and he doesn't care. He says he has already won because he's getting so much attention and so many people are listening to him. He is witty and he got a lot of laughs during the evening. ("What the council needs." he said, "is someone with a Venezuelan accent.") He's smart and wants to be involved. He still hasn't figured out that the city doesn't fund the school district or pay teachers or that failing the Community Center Prop 1 does not mean that the city has $81 million dollars lying around to spend on the schools.

Betsy is already on the council, having been appointed (unanimously, she pointed out) to the seat vacated when Jesse Salomon was elected to the state legislature. She does talk a lot about the importance of having geographic distribution of councilmembers and how she's the only one east of the freeway.

David Chen and Vivian Collica
City of Shoreline, Council Position 4
David Chen
Doris McConnell 

Doris is a long-term incumbent, having been on the council since 2008. She said that we need smart growth, not unbridled growth. She also said that she had been "endorsed by her opponent" which sent a ripple through the room and startled her opponent, David Chen. I asked Doris what she meant and she said "Oh gosh, I didn't finish my sentence!" She was talking about the third person in the primary, Ginny Scantlebury.

When candidates were asked about their infrastructure priorities, Doris said that people talked most about sidewalks, and proved it by voting for a ballot measure to fund new sidewalks. That Transportation Benefit District may lose funding if Tim Eyman's initiative I-976 passes. She said that the council doesn't get anything done alone, that they need to find things they can work on with the community.

David wants the city to harness the power of the light rail and use it to our advantage. He talks about creating partnerships with our local institutions - school district, community college - to reach shared goals. He's concerned about keeping working families in the city and creating access, equity, and opportunity for all. "No one should have to live on the streets." He's concerned about people living on fixed incomes and how rising housing costs will affect them. He worked in direct services for the Vision House Jacob's Well project which houses, trains, and provides support services for homeless families and was chair of their board. He's on the board of the Dale Turner Y and the charitable arm of the Sounders. He wants smaller developments with community features. Make sure that things can come in that we want that are not limited by permitting and planning design codes.

Betsy Robertson and Doris McConnell
City of Shoreline, Council Position 2
Keith Patrick Scully
Vivian Collica

Keith gave an update on Point Wells, a focus of interest in Richmond Beach. The city wants small or no development. The developer wants a huge development. There was a slight set back when the developer was given an additional six months to correct the defects in their application. They would have to build a second road out of the site. Shoreline has made peace with Woodway and the cities are working together to oppose the development. Keith vowed to fight it all the way.

Vivian says that Shoreline is not a walkable city. It's not a destination city. Developers get a 12 year tax break but our taxes go up. Businesses are struggling but there's only one person in the Economic Development office. At events, we bring in food trucks that compete with our own businesses. We lose sales tax because developers are not forced to put businesses in their new buildings. The pool doesn't create revenue.

In response to a question on what they would do to solve homelessness, Vivian said to give the same tax breaks to homeowners as developers, so the homeowner can rent out rooms in their home to people who need housing. She said that it can be solved on a local level. Keith pointed to the 198th project and the partnerships which will provide 100 units to people who are homeless or in danger of being homeless as well as services.

City infrastructure - Keith said that sidewalks were a high priority and the city got it done. The 145th and 185th corridors are in process. They are not going to ask for more taxes and are going to let these major projects play out before planning more. Vivian said that we lost the post office and let an apartment building go in. Keith said that the post office is a great idea but we can't build one - the post office has to do that.

Laura Mork and Gretchen Atkinson
Ronald Wastewater District, Commissioner Position 2
Gretchen Atkinson

Ronald Wastewater District, Commissioner Position 3
Laura Mork

Ronald Wastewater District, Commissioner Position 4
Craig Degginger

All three commissioners are running unopposed. 

Laura Mork introduced herself as an engineer and infrastructure geek. She served on the city's sidewalk committee.

Gretchen said that she is a long-time volunteer in Shoreline - PTA, neighborhood association, council of neighborhoods, chamber of commerce. She has been on the Ronald board for six years, four as president.

Craig Degginger was not present.

The city is in the process of absorbing Ronald but the board still sets policy and owns the assets of Ronald, including that in Point Wells.

Board president Gretchen Atkinson said that the planned city assumption on March 1st is off the table for now because Ronald is involved in the Point Wells lawsuit, which has been going on for five years. Olympic View Water and Sewer District in Edmonds has lost five lawsuits but won in appellate court. The case is now going to the state supreme court.

She said that work will continue with the city on the assumption. Ronald is still planning for future development and expansion of the infrastructure.

Sound Transit will be moving two wastewater pipes on 145th and 30 inch pipes on 185th by the station.


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