Maple Valley candidates vie for votes

Continuing The Reporter’s series of candidates questionnaires

The primary election is just around the corner, where King County residents will narrow down candidates for the general election in November. Many new and familiar faces are running for positions in local city, county and school district races.

To help voters find the information they need to make informed choices on their ballot, The Reporter is running a three-part series featuring the local candidates. Each candidate running in an opposed race was given the same set of questions, and all answers were edited for spelling and grammar only.

To read the full lis of questions and answers, visit our website.

Maple Valley City Council candidates

Council Position No. 3

•Incumbent Les Burberry

Les Burberry

Les Burberry

Age: 55

Why are you choosing to run / run for reelection?

I am passionate about giving back through local leadership. Much has been accomplished in the last four years while serving on city council. I championed transportation projects, adopted a common vision for the Legacy Site and promoted policies that enabled us to build Summit Park this summer without new taxes. Our city is recognized as one of the safest in the state, and we are making inroads in economic development. But the job is not done. We have an ambitious slate of $47 million in future transportation projects that I want to see finished as well as completion of the Legacy Site, and a host of additional initiatives.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? I have never been charged or convicted of a felony.

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? I filed for bankruptcy in 2004 as a result of a threatened lawsuit that I did not have the financial resources to defend. The bankruptcy was an effort to protect the equity in my family home.

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

I am a regional sales manager in the Insurance Division with AAA Washington. I manage our Rainier Region that extends from Tacoma to Vancouver. I have been with AAA WAshington for 12 years and prevous to that Liberty Mutual for 18 yeras.

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

I have experience in planning, budgeting, risk analysis and policy development that directly relate to the duties on city council. In addtion, my wife and I have raised our six children in the Tahoma School District so we have a desire to create a great environment for families in the future. Like a majority of Maple Valley residents, I commute long distances and understand the challenges of working and trying to get back hom for our children’s activities. That experience has led me to seek solutions for other families in similar circumstances to improve our quality of life.

How should Maple Valley handle continuing growth?

The actual city limits of Maple Valley are relatively small compared to the land area that bears a Maple Valley zip code. Within city limits, I believe we should manage growth to incentivize local job creation and economic development before additional residential housing. We have most of our remaining available land zoned to encourage local job creation in order to reduce the need for long commutes. Outside of our city limits and outside the Urban Growth District, land will remain largely undeveloped.

Do you think the city is financially stable? What would you do differently?

The city has a very stable financial position as evidenced by our bond rating and continued large margin of reserves. The city has won awards for several years for its budget presentation and transparency. And the city has achieved clean audits from the state. We do need to diversify our revenue over time. That means reducing our reliance upon residential real estate taxes by attracting companies and jobs to locate in Maple Valley. That will increase our retail tax collections with more daytime population and increase our contribution from business related taxes.

How can Maple Valley continue infrastructure improvement?

In some instances developers are required to fund infrastructure and it is built at the same time. However most of the time impact fees collected from development (Traffic Impact, Parks Impact Fees, REET) are collected in small increments until we have enough to fund projects. Our city staff have been very resourceful in the past several years, being awarded matching grants for parks, transportation (both motorized and non-motorized) and safety projects. This has allowed us to accelerate the pace of infrastructure improvements.

How can you help create a downtown Maple Valley?

First we have to zone property appropriate to the vision for the Town Center. Then we will activate the Legacy Site with the Farmers Market and road design which we have already begun, and received funding. I am focused on developing the Legacy Site as a public gathering place, and focal point for the community that retains the natural setting of our environment. Next we need to commission a Master Plan that reflects the Legacy Site Task Force recommendations. Once the Legacy Site begins to take shape that will trigger the properties south of it in Town Center to redevelop.

What, in your opinion, is the most important part of this role for such a young city?

The most important role that I play on city council is to understand the concerns and needs of our citizens and translate those needs into practical policies for our city staff to act upon. I have been successful in this role over the last four years and with your vote in November I will continue to work on the projects for policies that make our city the best place to live in the State of Washington.

If elected, how would you increase public safety?

We have added additional officers to our force in the last four years and we will continue to do so as needed. We have adopted projects to complete the sidewalks through our Witte Road corridor and on Kent-Kangley. The city has hosted meetings and an open house this year with WDOT, Metro, King County and citizens to identify safety improvements that can be made on (State Route) 169. And we will move forward with those that are feasible. We have decreased speed limits on parts of (State Route) 169. The city is better prepared for emergencies than ever before and host the Disaster Preparedness Fair in the fall for our citizens. Maple Valley is recognized as one of the safest cities in the state because of a great police force, the strength of our community and through our strong partnerships in the community.

Contact information and campaign website:

My phone is 360-951-9505. My city council email is les.burberry@maplevalleywa.gov. My campaign email is les.burberry63@gmail.com. Or you can learn about my campaign on my Facebook page, Les Burberry for City Council.

Victoria Schroff

Victoria Schroff

•Victoria Schroff

Age: 48

Why are you choosing to run/run for reelection?

I am choosing to run for Maple Valley City Council because I am devoted to our town and I want to have a seat at the table when it comes to helping make the big decisions that will shape the lives of its citizens today and for many generations to come.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

I have lived in Maple Valley with my family for over 10 years. Our daughter was in third grade when we relocated here from Nevada and we are grateful that she was able to have the Tahoma experience which readied her for the rigors of UW where she just completed her first year. I am a small business owner here in town and have volunteered for Vine Maple Place, Seattle Children’s Hospital Dream Builders Guild, Susan G. Komen, Elk Run Farm and most recently Maple Valley Centennial Lions Club and The Maple Valley Library Guild. I have also been a member of The Chamber of Commerce. I feel like my local business, volunteerism and journey through our school system have helped me to keep in touch with a wide cross-section of our community. The good people of Maple Valley talk and I’ve spent over 10 years listening. I have been regularly attending city council meetings and at times stopping by for the monthly Coffee with Council meetings as well. Additionally, I have spent several hours meeting with a wide variety of people from city hall and other community organizations so that I can educate myself on how our city works, how we arrive at the decisions that we make, and how we can make changes that we feel would benefit our growing little city.

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

I own and operate a small massage therapy business and spend the majority of my work week in Maple Valley. My schedule is flexible so, as your city councilwoman, I will make serving you a priority by being there when you need me. This means attending meetings, volunteering for committees/commissions, and being present at community events.

How should Maple Valley’s handle continuing growth?

Handling our continued growth is a complicated subject. We are designated by our state as an urban growth area which means that, in order to preserve and protect the forested greenspace around us, we must allow further growth and development within our city limits. However, how we go about this is up to us. I would like to see a halt or at least a drastic slow-down when it comes to residential zoning as I believe we have more than enough of that already to support employment centers, recreation and a variety of community-enriching businesses in the areas slated for development. I would also like to see clear-cutting stopped. I think most of us can agree that we need to be very judicious with the treatment of our remaining trees. This is critical, not only for the preservation of Maple Valley’s identity but the healthy air that we breathe as well as the preservation of the planet itself. Freshly planted trees are lovely and appreciated. However, it’s the large, old-growth trees that trap the most C02 and produce the most oxygen. I would also like to incentivize developers against allowing competing businesses in their complexes. The cannibalization that occurs when similar businesses in a town this size set up shop next to one another is unhealthy and doesn’t reward the loyalty of already existing small businesses.

Do you think the city is financially stable? What would you do differently?

I do think that our city is financially stable and there is a tremendous amount of transparency which makes me feel comfortable in how our finances are handled. Responsible development in town will continue to contribute to healthy finances which are necessary for ongoing road improvements, groundwater maintenance and the myriad of things that are necessary to maintain a thriving town.

How can Maple Valley continue infrastructure improvement?

In my opinion, road improvements are the most critical component when it comes to infrastructure. We have incremental plans being implemented already which will improve traffic flow and safety through the main arterials in town. If we are to properly activate The Legacy Site, attracting community friendly businesses to our town, among the first things we must do is bring a road into the site and move forward with the proposed roundabout in between Rock Creek Elementary School and the site. However, I urge that, before we move forward with infrastructure on any proposed site of development we have a very clear path forward on what we want to go there and what the overall design of the parcel will be. If we are not firmly committed, then minds could change and trees could be taken down needlessly.

How can you help create a downtown Maple Valley?

I have attended the downtown visioning meetings and the city has done a great job of providing these community forums where citizens are able to voice our opinions on what we would like our downtown to look like. This information will be used to help with zoning and to decide what kinds of businesses we want to draw to our city. Among the many ideas that I support and would help implement is the embracing of our natural habitat with an active forest, architecture that is reminiscent of our beautiful library, employment centers so that we can reduce some of the need to commute and businesses that are more unique and would provide a draw to the area. I also recognize that our teens are drastically underserved when it comes to recreational, non-competitive activities in Maple Valley and I have suggested that we also solicit their feedback on this subject by having surveys distributed to all students in the middle schools and high school so that we can include their insights when we’re trying to decide what businesses would be the best fit for our town. I would speak out against further residential zoning in the downtown area and would be vocal in leaving as much of our forested space as possible, most especially in the more visible areas. I would like to make sure there is a wildlife corridor leading onto the trail. Displaced wildlife is heartbreaking to witness, but it doesn’t have to be a tragedy if we provide them with safe passage.

What, in your opinion, is the most important part of this role for such a young city?

In my opinion, the most important part of this role for such a young city is being able to look beyond today at the bigger picture and to remember that you are one voice speaking for an entire community whose great, great grandchildren are counting on you to choose wisely.

If elected, how would you increase public safety?

Maple Valley’s widest committed crimes are those involving property. I believe that we as a city can help decrease this with community outreach. I would like to see City Council members and/or police officers visiting all of the local HOA’s with simple reminders such as remembering to check that your garage door is down at night, your property is well lit, all cars are locked, etc.

But we have a bigger, two-fold safety issue that desperately needs our attention. As climate change hits closer to home it has become imperative for our public health that we do everything in our power to combat it. Additionally, walking along our main arterials can be risky with the volume of traffic we are experiencing at peak times and our young people who do not yet have drivers licenses are particularly at risk in this regard. To help solve this, I would propose looking into the purchase of two small electric shuttles which would run from the north end of town to the south and to all popularly frequented areas such as the library, golf course and Lake Wilderness.

This will help alleviate some of the traffic congestion, help get everyone, both licensed and unlicensed, to their destinations safely, help eliminate drunk driving and reduce C02 emissions in town. This would also be particularly helpful once we begin to establish our downtown region and could make ours more desirable to potential employment centers as we try to try to shed the notion that we are just a bedroom community. Electric shuttles are affordable and very inexpensive to run and I believe, for our public safety, this would be a wise investment.

Contact information and campaign website:

I can be reached at victoriaschroffmv@gmail.com and I have a Facebook page under Victoria Schroff.

Council Position No. 5

Syd Dawson

Syd Dawson

•Incumbent Syd Dawson

Age: (Candidate did not answer)

Why are you choosing to run for reelection?

As growth continues, both in the city and the surrounding areas and for the city to continue to maintain the quality of life we experience, I believe I will help set the course as the city faces the following challenges:

• Diversification of the economic base: This includes not only attracting additional retail businesses but also businesses that allow the residents to remain in the community during the day for their jobs. This does at least two things – provides a daily customer base for the retail sector and provides additional tax revenue, helping shift the tax burden off the residential tax base.

• Population growth: The city council must work to balance the additional resources required to support the growth along with expectations residents have for the services currently provided. Economic growth and diversification are integral to supporting a growing population.

• Transportation: As growth continues both within the city, but also especially in the areas outside the city boundaries, the impact on the highway and street infrastructure continues to increase. Working on the policies and plans to mitigate this issue is not a simple task but will take time and much thought and consideration.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

Since moving to Maple Valley in 1999, I have been actively involved in the community.

• The Highlands at Lake Wilderness Homeowners Association 2000 to 2008.

• Tahoma School District Elementary School Boundary Committee 2002.

• (Boy Scouts of America) Troop 711 Adult Volunteer 2000 to 2007.

• Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics Alumni Board 2008 to present, Board President 2012 to 2014.

• Greater Maple Valley Community Center Board of Directors 2009 to present, Board President 2012-2013 and 2015- 2018.

• Maple Valley Historical Society Board of Directors 2015 to present.

• Recipient of one of the first 20 Keys to the City of Maple Valley, August 2017.

• Appointment to the City Council, April 2018.

In addition to my time on the city council, I have served on several boards of directors for nonprofit organizations that includes serving as the board president or chair. This provided me the ability to look at the overall community to see what the needs and wants are and balance those with the financial resources available to meet those needs. I understand funding sources and how they can impact the long-term operations of the organization. This has resulted in organizations that are financially sound and continue to support community needs.

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

Manager, The Boeing Company

How should Maple Valley handle continuing growth?

Management of growth is a multi-faceted issue. It requires balancing residential growth with both retail and commercial growth. Our residents have expressed the desire to have additional retail opportunities along with an increase in other commercial activities, including improving the number of living wage jobs located within the city so our residents do not have to leave the city for work. It is the role of the city council to provide direction to the Economic Development Commission and Planning Commission so we can set planning and development policies that will guide both current and future development. These policies must take into account the impact on our existing infrastructure and lay the plans for future improvements.

Do you think the city is financially stable? What would you do differently?

Yes, I believe the city is financially stable. As a member of the Council’s Finance Committee, I review all city revenues and expenditures twice a month. We also work closely with the city’s Finance Department and perform quarterly reviews of how the city’s actual finances compare to the budget. The shift to a two-year budgeting process has led to better forecasting of both city revenues and expenditures and encourages both the council and staff to look longer-term when setting budgets.

Maple Valley, along with our neighboring cities of Covington and Black Diamond, looks for opportunities where we can partner to provide services to our residents. This allows us to provide better service and reduce both duplication and cost. We will look for future opportunities to continue these partnerships.

How can Maple Valley improve its infrastructure during growth?

Infrastructure improvement is an on-going effort. Our growth has stretched our existing roads to capacity. Improving the infrastructure requires the city to ensure its current plans are still adequate. It also means the city must be planning for future growth, not only within the next five years but also where it wants to see itself in the next 20 years. It requires providing direction to the Planning Commission to establish the regulations that require future development shares in the cost of these improvements. A good example of this is the Ten Trails development in Black Diamond. As certain development thresholds are met, the developer is contributing to traffic improvements along Maple Valley Highway.

How can you help create a downtown Maple Valley?

I have participated in the two Downtown Visioning sessions the city hosted this past May and June. These sessions brought together a wide variety of community stakeholders, including residents, business owners and property owners along with the Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission. Creation of a downtown area is a long-range plan as we are establishing what Maple Valley will be for the next 50 years or more. Development of a downtown area must also include the thoughtful development of the adjacent Legacy site at the same time. The Legacy Site taskforce has provided a framework for that development and the city council has budgeted $800,000 to begin infrastructure improvements. We were also successful in obtaining a $154,000 grant from the State of Washington to help with those improvements.

As a council member, my role is helping set the course for this development by listening to our residents and community stakeholders and then implementing the best ideas that will create a downtown area that is an envy of our neighboring communities.

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

As a member of the city council, we approved two additional police officers, one for 2019 and one for 2020. We also approved the addition of a police sub-station, opening later this summer, located in the Ascent apartment complex behind Safeway.

The city council also approved adding a traffic light at the intersection of Kent-Kangley Road and 242nd Ave SE, behind Safeway. The installation will be completed this Fall.

I am on the Council’s Maple Valley Highway safety committee and we are working with WSDOT and King County Metro to improve pedestrian and vehicle safety along the corridor. This has included one public open house involving WSDOT and KC Metro to date. I will continue to work on transportation improvements throughout the City. This includes infrastructure improvements on Maple Valley Highway, Witte Road and Kent-Kangley, along with improvements on other roads throughout Maple Valley.

What, in your opinion, is the most important part of this role for such a young city?

I believe the most important part of this role, is balancing the needs and wants of our current residents while setting the plans for the city’s future through the next 10, 20 and 50 years. The city council represents all our citizens and our community stakeholders. The decisions we make today regarding residential growth, economic development and transportation improvements along with the protection of our public open spaces have long-lasting implications on our citizens. It is our responsibility to do the best we can in leading the city into the future.

Contact information and campaign website information:

syddawson1@gmail.com

Richard Axetell

Richard Axetell

•Richard Axtell

Age: 48

Why are you choosing to run in the election?

I believe in democracy and representation. I live in Maple Valley and value mine and my family’s quality of life within the community. I believe that the voice of the community best serves how Maple Valley should be governed, and it is that voice for whom I hope to represent.

Service has always been my raison d’etre. I served in the (United States Marine Core) and U.S. Army Infantry. I served in law enforcement as a Deputy Sheriff. I served in the federal government and have similarly provided the same to local and state government. I have traveled across the world and have served in dangerous parts of the world. I have also provided disaster response in communities across this country, to include volunteering in Hurricane Michael, in Mexico Beach, Florida. As you can see, someone has to take on the task, but that requires the will of the people.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What experience do you have that would benefit this position?

I am currently a Planning Commissioner for Maple Valley, but I also have a deep background in Public Policy. I make it a priority in which I focus on positive social change but will only provide this if this is the will of the people. I have seen communities go through significant challenges, but I have also stepped up to the plate and challenge the status quo to focus on common sense measures. Whether it is working at the federal level having formulated a new program that promoted a cost savings of almost 50 percent to assisting communities, secure their infrastructure at a reduction in costs and increased efficiencies, I have personally focused on making sure change is smart, measurable and has a positive ROI. Most importantly, I listen to what is being asked, and I focus on the details so that implementation risks are evaluated appropriately.

What is your full-time career? Are you retired?

I am a disabled veteran and could retire if I choose, but I continue to work hard. In my career, I am a consultant with my own business. I conduct active shooter/active assailant workshops, security assessments and develop Emergency Preparedness. In my volunteer work, I serve on the State Advisory Board for the Homeland Security Emergency Management Center of Excellence, and as a Disaster Response Volunteer for Team Rubicon. I value hard work and always take on a challenge.

How should Maple Valley handle continuing growth?

Growth is necessary for smaller communities, but it must be smart and measured growth. This means that understanding that with growth comes greater responsibilities such as increased public safety needs, infrastructure management, fiscal responsibility and proper zoning/land use management. There is a danger that as a community grows, governance also requires policy proposals that cross the line into demanding citizens conform to what the government foresees is necessary, of which regulating private property and private livelihoods becomes a reality. I am against this and I refuse to allow that threshold to be crossed. For Maple Valley, every time we add houses, we add traffic and our roads are bursting at the seams. We need to focus on the daytime economy and generate revenue from outside monies. This increases our city’s revenue streams to allow greater opportunities for management of the infrastructure and even provide for city-funded opportunities.

Do you think the city is financially stable? What would you do differently?

The city has gained financial momentum, but the key problem is that the funding sources come from internal monies, meaning that it’s our citizens spending money in town that generates the revenue sources. Add that to a growing maintenance requirement for the city’s ventures, we will outspend our general funds in years to come. At some point, even with the retail growth, this does not mean commercial growth, and therefore the city becomes dependent on sales taxes and property taxes as the primary sources, all of which are internalized.

If I were elected, I would push to focus on bringing a business that outsiders would seek out during the workday. This could mean retail or a large corporation.

How can Maple Valley improve its infrastructure during growth?

It can’t while on the current course. As Maple Valley grows, the infrastructure (roads, utilities, medical needs, schools, lighting systems, etc.) would require additional growth also. Take for instance the new High School, for which the back area needs increased lighting, sidewalks and crossing elements, all of which somehow appears to have become an afterthought of the design element during the building of the school. We must determine how we are going to tackle the increasing demand on infrastructure for a functioning community. Bringing in state and county partnerships shines the light on the issues. We also must place the state highway into a pre-disaster mitigation issue, for which the lack of road support places the public into a potentially dangerous situation, should a large disaster occur. One concern I do have also is that as we grow, we are reducing the wetlands and natural flood barriers. We could potentially see areas of Maple Valley become prone to flooding that were a result of overdevelopment.

How can you help create a downtown Maple Valley?

I have sat in the workshops where we can all come to a consensus over what is defined as the “City Center.” First and foremost, this must be defined. The second part is to identify what the city center should look like. I believe in walking areas and a place where we can all want to go and feel that this is what our community is all about. One thing I would love to see is during Memorial Day, placing the American Flag along a parade route or simply lining the streets with Americana (decor), so that we can show our city pride and honor our veterans. I also ask that we create a common vision of what distinguishes us from Covington and Black Diamond at the boundaries. Why can’t Maple Valley have a specific design that distinguishes our city from another? Once again, all of this costs money, but we must be smart about this.

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

Public Safety is already a concern with the increase in car prowls, continuous hit and runs, and porch pirates. How do we stop it? We start demanding a focus on criminal enforcement and partnerships with the community. Granted, traffic stops on the new 35 mph zone is a concern, but we also see mistakes being made by our officers, including the SUV Patrol Car driving off with the gas hose still attached to it. We are all human and even law enforcement makes mistakes, but if King County doesn’t want to prosecute, then we challenge them. We need to stand tough and take it to the state. But first and foremost, we listen to both law enforcement and the public and try and understand the root cause.

What, in your opinion, is the most important part of this role for such a young city?

It’s the voice of the citizens. I feel that my role would be to represent the public and that I am not there for my own interest, but the community for whom we serve.

Contact information and campaign website information:

(Phone number is) 360-772-9552 or email me at richaxtell@comcast.net.

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