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Candidates focus on jobs and ballfields in Maple Valley

In Maple Valley’s only contested City Council race, Leslie Burberry is running against councilwoman Victoria Jonas for council position No. 6.

NEW TO POLITICS BUT NOT  To MAPLE VALLEY

Burberry, a newcomer to the political arena, said he decided to run because he felt the time was right.

“I think as much as anything else, looking at myself and just saying, if not now, when?” Burberry said.  “I think it’s time for change on the City Council and I’ve always been a believer in term limits — just the idea that you want to bring in new ideas, new talent, new perspective into government as often as possible. You still want to obviously maintain some continuity, but being able to bring in those new ideas, the new perspectives, I think is imperative. And I think that’s what I represent. The ability to voice those concerns from a new perspective and take up that mantle.”

Originally from Lexington, Ky., Burberry grew up on a horse and tobacco farm and attended Cincinnati Christian University. He and his wife, Patricia, have six children ranging in age from 9 to 25, three of whom currently attend Tahoma schools.

Burberry served as a pastor for three years in Kentucky and then went on to work for Liberty Mutual for 18 years. He is the regional sales manager for AAA, a position he has been in for the past five and a half years.

The top issues Burberry would want to tackle should he be elected are collaboration with the Tahoma School District to help solve the district’s overcrowding problems, making the city attractive to businesses to improve economic development, and addressing the community’s need for ballfields through the Summit Park and Ballfields project.

“I think that being able to have the city partner with the school district is essential to help provide for the facilities that need to be built out in the coming years,” Burberry said. “Two would be supporting collaboration and innovations within our community to grow our economy so that we can provide some living wage jobs right here…and there are a number of things that our city can do in order to foster that.”

Burberry said that one way he feels the city could make itself attractive to businesses is to continue to improve transportation.

“So some of those things are outside the city’s control but the city can certainly encourage and they can point out these issues and put a spotlight on key issues that have to be confronted,” Burberry said. “There are also a lot of other things that we can be looking at — our codes and being able to just examine those and make sure that we are attracting and looking for businesses that fit our community. There’s a certain character to Maple Valley and so we should be looking for ways in which we can really make ourselves attractive to those businesses. That’s been done in part but I think certainly it can be done to a much fuller extent.”

As for ballfields, Burberry said that topic is one which pushed him into running for office.

“It’s just inadequate sports facilities for a community that has one of the highest percentages of children under the age of 18,” he said. “I support the Summit Park plan and that’s one of the things that has been begun, but needs somebody to pick up that mantle and move that forward.”

The top two challenges Burberry sees the city facing are the ongoing process of annexation and rezoning for the donut hole property and proper prioritization of city priorities.

“I think right now it’s a matter of really having an eye for putting first things first,” Burberry said. “There are a number of things that we could do, but what’s the most important thing to do — and I think that’s what’s going to be critical in the decision making of the council…”

JONAS LOOKS TO FINISH WORK

Jonas, who has been on the Maple Valley City Council since 1999, has lived in South King County her entire life. She graduated from Renton High School and studied at a local community college. She worked for the human resources department of the Seattle Police Department before retiring in 2007.

Jonas and her husband and their two sons moved to Maple Valley 20 years ago, drawn by the location and the school system.

Jonas said one of her passions is giving back to the community and she has volunteered with a number of organizations over the years, including volunteering at the Maple Valley Food Bank and co-founding the Maple Valley Farmers Market.

After witnessing the birth of the city in 1997 Jonas began attending City Council meetings and participating on committees, she decided to run for the council after she was encouraged by a council member who was serving at the time.

“I gave it considerable thought and reflection about running for another term and my passion and commitment to the residents of Maple Valley is stronger than ever,” Jonas said. “And I believe that to be an effective council member you must be actively engaged in the community…And I also believe that during these tough economic, challenging economic times that it is more important than ever to have proven leadership that our residents can trust to represent their best interests while serving on our City Council.”

For Jonas, if she is re-elected, her top priorities would be public safety, economic development, the donut hole annexation and rezoning, and parks and recreation.

“The number one always for me is public safety,” Jonas said. “Being proactive in community policing has served our community very well.”

As for parks and recreation, Jonas said that she sees partnerships as a crucial part of being able to provide for the needs and wants of residents.

“As I’ve learned on the council over the last several years, big capital projects such as that, such as building ballfields, maybe building a municipal campus, no city can afford to do it on its own. You really have to partner,” she said.

Jonas cited the city’s successes securing grant funding for transportation projects and current discussions to partner with the Ravensdale Park Foundation to contribute to Ravensdale Park as recent partnerships the city has been involved in.

Since Gov. Inslee signed Senate Bill 5417 which will allow the city to annex the donut hole property, the next step for the city is to take their request to annex the property to the Boundary Review Board and Jonas said that there will be plenty of work for council members going forward.

“The process will probably take about a year and so once we go through that process then we will be able to fully pursue the vision and planning process to insure that the development of the property meets the needs of our citizens now and in the future generations to come,” she said.

Also in relation to the donut hole, Jonas said she supports the Tahoma School District’s vision to purchase part of the property from King County and build a new high school on the site.

“I’m very supportive of the school district’s desire to have a high school within the city of Maple Valley,” Jonas said. “I think that would be a wonderful opportunity for many reasons.”

The top two issues Jonas sees the city facing in the next few years are fiscal challenges as new home construction and sales in the city slow and providing parks and ballfields for citizens.

“Moving forward being fiscally responsible to our tax payers and parks and rec, and that definitely includes the ballfields that the discussions, the serious discussions, are going to be starting now on how we we fund that and bonding and maintenance of our parks,” Jonas said. “We have a lot of community wants and desires and it’s how do we get there with a recovering economy?”

 

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