We asked the candidates, they answered

This week, Covington candidates respond to The Reporter’s campaign inquiries

Hundreds of candidates across King County are preparing for the August primary election, which is just about one month away. More campaign signs are starting to pop up near Maple Valley and Covington, and some candidates will be ringing neighbors’ doors soon.

There is a list of city, school district and county officials running for office this year. For most of the Maple Valley and Covington area, candidates will not appear on the primary ballot since all the races are either unopposed or only include two candidates, meaning they’ll appear on the ballot in November for the General Election.

Despite this, to help readers get revved up for the upcoming elections, candidates answered The Reporter’s questions about their campaign and future goals. Only candidates who are running opposed were provided questions.

Each candidate was given the same questions as their opponent, and each set of answers was edited for just spelling and grammar.

This week, due to lack of space in the paper, The Reporter is only running Covington Candidate answers. Maple Valley and the Tahoma School District’s answers will be in next week’s paper, along with the week after that.

Also due to space, some questions in this week’s paper were cut from our print edition, but the full questions and answers will be on our website at covingtonreporter.com.

Covington City Council candidates

Council Position No. 1

*Incumbent Marlla Mhoon

Marlla Mhoon

Marlla Mhoon

Age: 68

Why are you choosing to run for reelection?

I love this city and the direction it is moving. I am so proud of what we have accomplished. Since I have been on council we have COSTCO, a hospital, Covington Community Park and so much more that would not have happened without the efforts of a council with vision. Covington is a vibrant destination city, the economic hub of South King County and it is only getting better. There is so much more to do; city beautification, more parks, a town center with a public plaza and a city hall that is Covington owned. We now rent government space that costs residents $45,000 a month and we have rented for over 20 years. That is a waste of money!

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?

Nine years in banking and a two-year degree in basic banking.

Association of Washington Cities Certificate of Municipal Leadership. Thirty hours of course work in four areas:

To receive the Certificate of Municipal Leadership, you must earn 30 CML credits and attend at least one workshop in each of the four areas below. A minimum of five credits in each core area is highly recommended.

Roles, responsibilities and legal requirements (R)

Public sector resource management (P)

Community planning and development (C)

Effective local leadership (E) [Bachelor’s degree in] Elementary Education, [master’s degree in] Computers in Education plus 120 extended college credits. I served on the Covington Planning Commission for two years prior to being appointed to the city council in 2006.

I have served Covington residents on the Covington City Council for 13.5 years. I am on the WRIA 9 (Green/Duwamish Chinook salmon recovery) management committee. I co-chair the WRIA 9 Ecosystem Forum. I have served on the Puget Sound Regional Council Executive board. I served on the Sound Cities Association Public Issues committee and chaired it for one year. I serve on the King County Flood Control District advisory council (currently chair the SCA caucus). I represent Covington on the newly formed South King Housing and Homelessness Partnership.

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

[I’m a ]Retired educator, Tahoma School District – Maple Valley.

How should Covington handle continuing growth?

The Puget Sound area population is exploding; [It’s] predicted 1.8 million more people in the next 30 years at the rate of 55,000 new people per year. If we want to keep rural, rural, rather than sprawl like Los Angeles, cities must take that influx of population within city boundaries. It means growing up not out. That means more multifamily units in Covington. Yes, we have pass-through traffic issues that will be somewhat alleviated when 256th is completed to serve as a bypass. Also, the new LakePointe Urban Village development will include a transit station, with parking, that will directly access the Kent transfer station and Sounder [train].

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

Yes, the city is financially stable. Achieving an AA+ bond rating recently, we refinanced a loan at a lower rate which saves residence tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Differently, we must continue to meet new challenges and stay on the path of responsible financial governing. If there is a change in council, this may not happen. As a city, we have never had an issue with annual state audits of our finances. Covington is a very well managed city. Income streams that are predictable are used for ongoing long term expenses like police officers and staff. A baseline sales tax can also be used for ongoing expenditures. Sales tax beyond base rate and REET (real estate excise tax) funds fluctuate based on the economy. This money is used primarily for one-time expense items and saved for future projects that residents of our city want. We saved money and were able to pay cash for the Covington Elementary property which will be the future Town Center. SoCo Park will be part of that and as they become available the city is buying future park properties along the creek. Residents over and over have said they want a gathering place, a town center. (The Reporter’s) recent article about Maple Valley wanting a Town Center – Covington is years ahead on that issue because of a council with future vision and goals. It takes vision and planning! The economy slumps and Covington is still sound. Future challenges; an aquatic center that is very near the end of its life.

How can Covington continue infrastructure improvement?

We have worked hard to successfully get grant funds and with the help of our legislators secured highway funds and state grants. [State Route] 516 (272nd) is a state highway. It will be widened to four lanes, with sidewalks, just past Home Depot soon. (Recently) at council, we approved the contract to complete the sidewalk connection between Kentwood High School and Covington/King County library. Our six-year TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan) has predictable funding. [The] plan is on the city’s web page. Phase one and Phase two of Covington Community Park was funded by multiple grants.

How will you manage large projects such as the LakePointe Development or the Covington Connector project?

It is and has been well managed! When you work with developers it is an everyone wins. We successfully bridged the gap between the developer and citizens, holding many public meetings. We successfully supported the developer by lobbying for state funding for the Covington Connector road project. As a council, we changed the gravel pit zoning to accommodate the LakePointe Development. There were many community meetings where residents planned what they wanted and how it should look. LakePointe listened to our residents and what they wanted. Covington is getting so much from this high-end developer; a transit station, a hotel that is so needed on the [State Route] 18 corridor and finally residents will have Covington access to the 110-acre Cedar Creek Park with a parking lot! Cedar Creek Park (King County park) is amazing – totally passive walks through forests, quiet nature. Currently, the only access is through the Cedar Downs development in Maple Valley.

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

This role? [I] do not understand the question. Referring to large projects? Being a council member?

If projects, the gravel pit is the last large piece of buildable land in the city. All agreements reached benefit this city. Smaller plots of land, platted under old King County regulations, do not meet current standards for street width, etc. Developers have been very cooperative to meet current standards. It takes building relationships and working together.

If being a council member, when this city incorporated it was with the desire to be a real city, with a real downtown, with parks and a place residence would be proud to call home – not a Highway 99 strip mall. Cities go on long after our personal lifetimes are over. We are creating a vibrant city for future generations. The current council maintains that vision and works hard and responsibly to make that dream a reality.

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

As a council, we have committed to adding a police officer each year. With the businesses coming in at LakePointe, we will have to double up on that – development revenue will pay for it. We have much bigger issues in Covington; drug addiction and homelessness do not recognize city boundaries. Home thefts, purse snatchings and car prowls are drug addiction related 100%. These are regional issues and must be addressed regionally, even nationally. Covington is part of, and I am the Covington representative, a multi-city project: SKHHP (South King Housing and Homeless Partnership). Together, many south King County cities will work together to provide housing close to services. Covington is not the best location but the current council will contribute to servicing our residence – even if they have to move to Auburn or Kent to get needed services.

Contact information and campaign website information: marllam@aol.com Working on a website.

*Kristina Soltys

Age: 33

Why are you choosing to run for election?

To contribute as a strong, sound voice to the decisions made for the future of our community. Living in Covington for 14 years, I absolutely love the area and more importantly the people that make up the city and want to see a safe and stable environment for our seniors, families and children to thrive in. Growing up in an immigrant family, I have always been taught to do more, try harder, and give back because serving is more rewarding than being served. I believe in upholding the core values that make up the town that we call home.

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?

Growing up, I’ve always held a leadership role, small or big. As a music teacher, I learned patience towards people of all ages. When teaching another person a new task, it takes great diligence and an invested attitude to inspire them to succeed, and to love the journey towards success. Working in the medical field has taught me to connect with and contribute to my many patients. To say that I care about the well-being of people is an understatement. The ability to empathize with new people has always been my strong suit, which is something I do not take for granted and believe I can do more with it. As a mentor to female youth, it is apparent to me how influenced our young community is and how vital it is to steer them in the right direction. It both inspires and shakes me to think about how vulnerable and moldable the youth is and that when placed in the right atmosphere with strong advisors and advocates, they can move mountains.

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

I am currently working part-time as a sonographer (ultrasound technician) at PacificVascular and am focusing on raising our two boys.

How should Covington handle continuing growth?

Whether we are growing or not- the most important things do not change. Families still need safe communities, safe parks and safe schools. We still need healthy neighborhoods. Because we are not served by the Sound Transit lite rail, cars are a part of this city’s future and congestion relief is important. None of those priorities are going to change so as we look at growth, we need to look at how to grow with things that are consistent with the city we want. Not just today but long term for families and their kids. We need to be thoughtful and focus on what’s most important, not only for the economic health of the city but for the quality of life for all of us who call Covington home.

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

The city’s revenues are financially stable. I think it would be a mistake for Covington to follow the lead of Kent and Auburn in claiming there is a fiscal cliff that requires massive tax increases. Kent increased prop taxes 38.8% in a single year; there is no room for that kind of nonsense in Covington. What we need is to continue to grow the economic pie that generates sales taxes and allows us to keep (property taxes) low. In addition, the legislature recently passed significant new property tax exemptions and deferrals for disabled veterans and seniors with more limited incomes in order to make sure they are treated fairly. We should help to get the word out for those programs. We should budget based on priorities and not appetites. We need to be thoughtful about every nickel the city spends and how hard folks have been hit by recent tax increases from governments other than the city of Covington. We don’t need to make the same mistakes other governments have made.

How can Covington continue infrastructure improvement?

Being that Covington is rather new and most of the development is as well, it would be wise for us to be incredibly strategic about where and the type of commercial property is placed within our city. We need to make sure all building and traffic agreements are honored to the letter so that our families are not paying the cost of other cities by sitting in traffic. We have dangerous intersections that we cross daily and need to put pressure on the government for solutions to these hazards. When we invest in new infrastructure, it must be in areas we want future growth to go to avoid infrastructure deficits. We have to keep Covington inviting and welcoming while preserving the closeness of our community. Growth is great when we are living within our means.

How will you manage large projects such as the LakePointe Development or the Covington Connector project?

It would be wise to lay out very clear policy about what our expectations are for the projects and improvements of life with very clear standards to ensure the residents of the city are protected while creating a nice place for the folks who visit and move in.

When we set policy and expectations, we must ensure that they are reflected in agreements and insist that they are honored. We need to make sure that the road improvements are sufficient to meet the traffic that will be generated by LakePointe.

And initially, the sales tax revenue from LakePointe should be the key source of income for solving issues that may arise around LakePointe requirements so as to avoid impacts on the rest of the city residents (pulling funds from Covington’s budget).

Similar expectations should apply to the Covington Connector project in regards to policy. Because we will heavily rely on the connector for the Lake Pointe development, it must be completed in a timely fashion with met deadlines.

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

This is a relatively young city but many of the families who are here have deep roots and strong ties to this area. Because of that they know the city, they know its history, they believe in its future, and they share a hope that brings people together. So the most important thing a city council member can do is to listen carefully, pay attention, use common sense when making decisions and stay focused on what continues to make Covington a great place for all of our city’s families.

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

This is a really important question for me because Andre and I have young children. The children in our community need to be safe. We are fortunate that our parents live nearby because we grew up here, so we understand the importance that our seniors are also safe. Keeping families safe cannot be an afterthought or something that we only address with money that is leftover in the budget; it must be a priority. Beyond making public safety the city’s No. 1 priority, there are other things we can do to be effective. For example, we know that gangs are crossing city boundaries between Burien and Tacoma, therefore it’s important for us to participate in county-wide law enforcement task force efforts that focus on the most serious threats we face. It is also important that we spend time with our police officers listening to what they are seeing. I’ve done that, and I’m continuing to do that, and the truth about what is happening, especially in downtown Covington, causes me concern. We need to listen carefully to what our police department is telling us and make sure they have the tools to do the difficult job we’re asking them to do. This question, like the other questions, is really about two things. The first is our core values. The second is leadership who will stay focused on Covington’s core values. Actually, there are three things. The third is to not leave our common sense behind when we address these issues.

Contact information and campaign website information:

kristinasoltys@gmail.com

Direct Cell: 206-227-1856

Website: kristinasoltys.com

Facebook: Kristina Soltys for Covington City Council

Council Position No. 2

*Appointed incumbent Jennifer Harjehausen

Age: 43

Why are you choosing to run for reelection?

I have been involved in the local community since moving here 17 years ago. When I started volunteering with the city years ago, I was impressed with how it is run, the positive culture set forth by council and displayed by city staff, and the progress being made by a city that’s only 20 years old. It’s impossible not to want to do more! I was unanimously appointed in April and thoroughly enjoy serving our residents.

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 a wealth of experience serving on boards, working with groups of people to come to a consensus while not losing sight of individuals’ opinions, and advocating to amplify voices. I have been in leadership positions on local and council level (Parent Teacher Associations), the local non-profit Covington Co-Op Preschool, Kent School District committees such as the Citizens Budget Review and Family Engagement Task Force, I ran a successful Save Cedar Valley campaign to keep the elementary school nestled in our Timberlane Community from closing, and I’ve served on the City’s Arts Commission, Planning Commission, and Parks and Recreation Priority Advisory Committee.

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

I am the Manager of the project management department at a clinical trials laboratory in Seattle. I telecommute a majority of the work week.

How should Covington handle continuing growth?

Covington should plan traffic mitigation aggressively, support our police chief with adequate resources as property crime increases when more retail comes in, prioritize updating our tree code to preserve our mature tree line that is part of our City’s identity, and truly listen to residents’ concerns regarding growth.

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

Yes. The city has an AA+ bond rating which has allowed the city to save the residents a million dollars! That’s fantastic. The city was also recently able to purchase a piece of property to develop a central gathering space for our residents. As what limited parcels are being purchased by developers, it’s important that the city not only owns property to set the feel and vibe of that space but also to serve as a financial investment. The thing that I really wanted to change was allowing residents to have the ability to view the city’s finances in an understandable format. The city recently added its financial information to a cloud-based database where residents have access. Check out cleargov.com/washington/king/city/Covington.

How can Covington continue infrastructure improvement?

Being a small city and being committed to keeping taxes low for our residents means the city has to partner with other cities for regional transit and infrastructure improvement. The city must look to the county and state for funding, and be creative and aggressive in seeking out grant opportunities.

How will you manage large projects such as the LakePointe Development or the Covington Connector Project?

By ensuring the City’s Community Development Team is working very closely with the developers, by ensuring updates are being presented to council and that opportunities for feedback are given, by keeping residents apprised of progress, and by giving residents ample opportunity for input along the way.

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

Being ahead of the growth. It’s easy for developers to just come in and wreak havoc on our traffic, environment and community. Working with developers, ensuring a robust community development team, supporting the residents who serve on the planning commission, and ensuring traffic studies and environmental impacts are performed and mitigating the growing pains felt by residents.

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

By ensuring our police officers have adequate staff, training and resources to protect our residents. Our police chief manages his growing number of officers well and communicates regularly with the city staff and council regarding necessary support. Also, we can always do more in supporting human services efforts locally and regionally; Serving on regional boards in order to work with other cities and the county on collaborative efforts, supporting the residents who serve on our Human Services Commission and supporting our local organizations who do the work every day to support our high risk residents and families.

Contact information and campaign website information:

Jennifer Harjehausen

27177 185th Ave SE, Ste 111-202 Covington, WA 98042

253-245-9525

VoteJennifer@gmail.com

votejenniferh.com

facebook.com/votejenniferharjehausen

*Elizabeth Porter

Age: 48

Why are you choosing to run for election?

I am a 15-year resident of Covington, and have been attending city council meetings for the last three years. Learning more about the current council’s priorities, I see our council continues to put aside millions of dollars for a town center and aquatic center. The past two resident surveys have shown these capital projects are a low priority for Covington citizens, yet the majority of the council disregards those positions in favor of their own vision for Covington. In nearly unanimous votes, council has also increased taxes at every opportunity. The millions set aside for those previously mentioned capital projects should be re-prioritized for safety and infrastructure, thereby reducing the need for tax increases for the near future. They are not prioritizing the most basic needs of Covington: safety and roads. Still, the council is continuing on its course without stopping to seriously ask themselves if it is in the best interest of the long-range health of its residents.

I also think that it is important for citizens to have a choice when voting for their elected officials. Too often, our local candidates run unopposed which doesn’t really fit into the idea of democracy. Even if I do not win this election, at least I know that I have given the citizens a choice for who will represent them on the city council.

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 been on the city’s Planning Commission for the past two years. In the year leading up to my appointment as a commissioner, I attended nearly every city council and planning commission meeting, to learn more about the Lakepointe development, and to bring knowledge back to a group of citizens concerned about the impacts that it would have on our community. By inspiring others to get involved, we were able to help shape the Development Agreement between the city and the master developer. Through that process, I also learned about how priorities were set and decisions made which impact our community. In 2018, I attended the Planning Association of Washington’s 2018 conference, after being invited to give a presentation on my public involvement in the LakePointe Development. I attended many workshops and learned about the role of a Community Development department’s role in shaping the communities of Washington.

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

I have been in the retail industry for 25 years. After most of that time in store management, for the past 10 months I have moved into a position as a Retail Operations Project Manager for a locally-based national outdoor specialty retailer.

How should Covington handle continuing growth?

Even with the immense growth that Covington faces, it is always important to bear in mind the opinions of those who have lived in this town for decades. The Council’s stance should not be to push for maximum development, yet they have always chosen that path. In addition, our local government needs to ensure infrastructure is in place prior to development so that the impacts on the lives of current residents are mitigated. All sides should be considered when making these critical decisions even if, as a councilmember, it is an opinion you don’t agree with.

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

Covington is financially stable. Are there projects that we don’t have funds for, absolutely. But those are “nice-to-haves”, not necessities. My priorities for spending are on safety and roads. Parks would be third. There is an opportunity for a “call to action” by citizens to volunteer time, energy, and money for other cultural elements. There are some missed opportunities to provide a way for citizens to be more involved. This would save the city money, and also provide citizens more ownership in their town.

How can Covington continue infrastructure improvement?

The Covington City Council needs to make this element a HIGH priority. Too much money is being set aside for other capital projects that citizens have not voted on. That money is better spent on improving roads, sidewalks, and other infrastructure support.

How will you manage large projects such as the LakePointe Development or the Covington Connector project?

LakePointe is definitely going to be the project to watch over the next five to 10 years. With it, comes more amenities- entertainment, dining, shopping, and a “place” for the community. But that will also come at a cost- more schools needed, more safety (police officers, security, potential for a local jail and other logistical needs). And of course, more traffic. The Council needs to hold the developer to a very high standard, as well as rein in the continued demands for more retail space and more housing units. Balance is key.

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

It is critical that councilmembers take all of their constituents seriously. Everyone deserves their voice to be heard. Turning from a small town into a large city requires a delicate balance of appreciating those folks who moved here by choice years ago, while also supporting the new arrivals who moved here because they couldn’t afford to live closer to Seattle and Bellevue. It is important to have a vision for the future, but also remain flexible if public priorities change. If the council wants to make a lasting and reputable impact, they need to find ways to bring the people along on this journey, so they feel that the changes are happening with them, not to them. Large expenditures should be put to a vote, and transparency should be paramount.

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

Money that is being saved for the Town Center and Aquatic Center would be used for adding officers and providing them with better facilities and logistics, as well as improving some of our hazardous intersections and sidewalks.

Contact information and campaign website information:

Email Address: VoteElizabethPorter@outlook.com

Mailing Address: 325 Washington Ave S #165 Kent, WA 98032

Phone: (206) 852-9385

Website: PorterForCouncil.com

Council Position No. 3

*Incumbent Margaret Harto – Withdrawn

*Jared Koukal

Jared Koukal

Jared Koukal

Age: 23

Why are you choosing to run for election?

I decided to run for Covington City Council because I want to continue my service to this community. I see a need for improved public safety, roads, and community in our city and I know we can accomplish these tasks together. My top priority would be Public Safety, I want my family as well as yours to be safe and protected.

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 believe my leadership/communication skills from the military will benefit me and help me establish connections with the residents of covington and our city. Being Co-Chair of the Covington Economics Development Commission will bring a new insight to the council of our business community and how we can continue to help local businesses in our community thrive and succeed.

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

Assistant Chief Engineer at CBRE/Microsoft Account. I also help manage a small property management business.

How should Covington handle continuing growth?

Covington should continue what they are doing. Making sure we have sidewalks to use, Roads being repaired and lobbying in Olympia for funding. One thing I want to make sure of, is the new LakePointe development, we need to ensure we have additional police officers for the increased population and business and the potential of theft and crimes that could occur.

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

I think the city is financially stable and our finance department does an outstanding job, however when the new LakePointe development is finished we need to plan to make sure the downtown core (Safeway, Fred Meyer blocks) is still thriving and producing at the volume it is. This is something we are talking about with CEDC, and something we should all keep in mind for the future.

How can Covington continue infrastructure improvement?

I think with the list of Improvements the city has now, We are on a great path for continued infrastructure improvement. Continue developing sidewalks, road and pothole repairs, widening of our streets. These are things the city have been trying to improve over the years and we just need to make sure we prioritize them.

How will you manage large projects such as the LakePointe Development or the Covington Connector project?

I want to make sure I have as much information as possible. Thankfully I have the time and energy to put everything into this and with my Project Managing experience I can contribute input that could make the process smooth. I have full trust in the city staff that they will do an amazing job managing and facilitating this as well. But the most important part is making sure everyone knows what’s going on, why it is happening the way it is and the residents should have easy access and a voice represented as well.

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

The most important part of this role as a young city is that we represent everyone. From the residents that lived here before it was a city and to the new young families moving in to the city know. I Want to continue serving the community as a volunteer and continue to encourage and inspire others to do the same, especially our youth.

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

I want to figure out a way we can add an additional five police officers. Hearing that at some points Covington Police has no one on duty (when others are Sick, or on PTO) it’s scary. Of course we have our contract with the King County Sheriffs and they fill in, but the presence of additional Covington Police around high crime areas, and adding additional detectives can help relieve some of the pressure of our current officers and detective. I am very passionate about our Law Enforcement and they do an amazing job but they also need a larger space to conduct their business and improved equipment.

Contact information and campaign website information.

Phone: (206) 854-4399

Email: koukaljared@gmail.com

Website: www.votejaredkoukal.com

Council Position No. 5

*Incumbent Sean D. Smith

Age: 53

Why are you choosing to run for reelection?

Over the past five years that I have been on the council, I’ve seen Covington change for the better. We have new police officers, improved roads, a new hospital, expanded parks and some of King County’s lowest taxes. Covington’s reputation is growing and is, literally and figuratively, putting us on the map. My leadership on the council has helped to make this happen. I want to serve a second term to continue the city’s trajectory toward greatness.

I take the opportunity to serve the residents of Covington seriously and I never forget my job is to make the lives of our residents better.

I ask for your vote.

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’ve lived in Covington since 2006. My wife and I chose to move our family to Covington because of its affordable housing, good schools, safe communities, outdoor recreation and more.

I’ve served on the city council since 2015 and currently serve as Covington’s Mayor Pro Tem. I’ve led city council meetings and other events when the mayor is not in attendance. I’ve voted to add new officers to our police force, improve our roads, and keep our taxes low. I also serve as Covington’s representative on the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority board. The Fire Authority’s mission is to protect its service area from fire and professionally and compassionately help people. The board supports this mission by approving the purchase of new fire vehicles, reviewing personnel matters and setting strategic priorities.

Prior to joining the city council, I served five years on Covington’s Planning Commission. On the planning commission, I helped develop and implement the city’s vision by reviewing and approving the city’s Town Center plan, its Shoreline Master Plan, Affordable Housing proposals, the LakePointe development and many more. In 2010 I was named Covington’s Commissioner of the Year.

Back in 2012, I served on the City’s Budget Advisory Committee. This committee spent the better part of a year going over every aspect of the city’s budget including both revenues and expenses. We made recommendations on where the city should invest additional resources, where it might scale back city efforts, and how it might pay for these services.

My education also equips me to be an effective council member. I have a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in Political Science. I received my Master’s in Resource Management from Central Washington University. I also completed the Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy at Santa Rosa and the Wildland Firefighting Academy in Yakima.

The combination of my work, education, and experience make me uniquely qualified to serve a second term on the Covington City Council.

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

I work for the Washington State Department of Ecology as an Environmental Planner. I lead the state’s multi-million dollar effort to get the worst toxic chemicals out of our products and commerce.

How should Covington handle continuing growth?

South King County is one of the fastest growing regions of the state. Since I first moved here, the population has grown from around 16,000 to more than 20,000. This growth tells me that Covington’s commitment to a vibrant retail core, diverse housing options, well-maintained roads, safe communities, and well-maintained parks are attractive to a people and that our city is on the correct path. However, I recognize that uncontrolled and unmanaged growth can threaten the very things that make Covington livable. That’s why I’m committed to measured growth that balances the needs of our new and current residents with the need to maintain those resources and values that make Covington great. I’ll continue to look for creative opportunities like the LakePointe development which transforms an already heavily impacted area into a modern urban village complete with residential, retail, transit, and entertainment opportunities.

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

Yes. The city is in a sound and stable financial position. The council has an inspiring vision for our future and a fiscally conservative approach to achieving it. This approach resulted in the city bond rating improving to an AA+. This new bond rating allowed the city to refund its bond, saving the city’s taxpayers roughly $1 million. Meanwhile, the city provides high-end services like police, roads, parks and social services all while keeping our tax burden among the lowest in the county.

How can Covington continue infrastructure improvement?

Covington will need to continue its strategy to seek partnerships to achieve its infrastructure needs. During my tenure on the council, Covington has entered into partnerships with surrounding cities to secure millions of dollars for roads projects, like improvements to Highway 18 and 272nd .

Covington will also seek out state and national grants to help expand our park system. I’m extremely proud of the success Covington had in securing grants allowing the city to complete phase two of the Covington Community Park. We will continue to seek these opportunities in order to complete phase three, as well as investigate the viability of a regional recreation/community center.

Covington will also partner with regional entities and communities to address social service needs such as affordable housing and homelessness. Covington has joined other communities such as Kent, Renton and Auburn to develop resources and strategies to address the affordable housing crisis.

While on the council, I will continue to work with regional partners and seek resources to maintain and improve our roads, parks and quality of life.

How will you manage large projects such as the LakePointe Development or the Covington Connector project?

I assume this question means how I would approach future projects like ones similar to the LakePointe Development for, as a council member I don’t actually manage large projects. Rather, I would continue to review and assess large scale projects as I have always done. I would consider each on a case by case basis, reviewing the benefits the project brings to the community as well as its costs. I also consider how any new large scale project fits within the city’s vision for a vibrant/liable community, which improves our residents’ quality of life. I further consider the impact any large scale project will have upon things like city finances, tax revenues, traffic, schools, public safety, etc. If, after this review, the positives of a project outweigh its negatives, I expect to support it.

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

It has been an honor to serve the residents of Covington on their city council. The primary role of the city council is to ensure that Covington’s government provides high-quality services its residents demand including safe communities and good roads while minimizing their tax burden. I take my oath to serve Covington’s residents seriously and strive every day to make sure our city government is both efficient and effective and ultimately makes our community better for all.

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

True public safety is dependent upon many things. The most obvious is that the city have sufficient police officers and the needed resources to enforce our laws. I will continue to support expanding our police force so that all continue to feel safe in every part of our community. If re-elected, I will continue to advocate and support Covington’s partnering with other police forces throughout the region. Partnerships allow Covington access to expanded police resources and expertise thereby improving public safety.

However, public safety also rests upon other factors like our residents having adequate housing, a clean environment, needed services and a good job. I will continue to support local, regional, and state efforts that improve our residents’ access to these services.

Finally, public safety rests upon Covington’s residents taking an active role in the policing of their community. I encourage all of Covington’s residents to join our growing list of police volunteers, as well as complete the citizen police academy. These high impact actions are simple ways the community can help make Covington a safer place for all.

Contact information and campaign website information:

Sean Smith M.S.

www.bit.ly/voteseansmith

voteseansmith@yahoo.com

206-818-4041

*Jonathan Ingram

Age: 49

Why are you choosing to run/run for reelection?

I’ve been the quiet resident for a few years, but have also been watching and learning and my concerns have been growing. There are three reasons I put my hat into the ring now:

1. About 98% of the votes on our city council are unanimous, which simply doesn’t represent the opinions of everyone in the city.

2. To my knowledge, our city council has never voted against increasing taxes!

3. Instead of putting our tax dollars into infrastructure and public safety to support that growth, millions of dollars of tax revenue has been set aside for other purposes while we are repeatedly hit with tax increases. These things are just wrong!

If I win the election I’ll work to change these things. If I lose, then I hope my opponent starts looking at things from the perspectives of everyone in the city.

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?

My career has been software development, specifically databases. I’ve worked on systems in many different fields, taught database development, and written several books. The one thing that’s been true across all of my experience is that we have to be willing to learn and adapt. Volunteering on Covington’s Planning Commission, listening closely at city council meetings, reading the same documents the city council reads and working with the city’s amazing staff to educate myself and learn more about our city will all benefit me when I’m elected.

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

I have a full-time job as a lead software developer. Fortunately, I’m able to telecommute.

How should Covington handle continuing growth?

Growth is already straining our city’s infrastructure and public safety services. We must continue efforts to make the city inclusive and livable, address environmental concerns like our inadequate tree preservation policy and the plastics issue, and spend the money necessary on infrastructure and public safety so that the pressures of growth do not overwhelm us. Public safety spending will not just include police officers; we’ll have additional costs associated with handling crime like court costs and a second prosecutor. We need to push the state legislature to come up with a better solution to drug-related crime, that includes mandatory drug treatment for addicted offenders and the support services to help addicts recover instead of relapsing.

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

Our city is financially stable, but tax revenue right now is being spread over too many priorities. Millions of dollars of tax revenue is being put into reserves for future projects (that the public hasn’t voted for!) instead of being spent on roads and public safety.

Before we ask the people of Covington to raise taxes, we should spend the revenue we already have to address critical infrastructure and public safety needs and pay off debt. We don’t need more money; we need to spend it wisely.

How can Covington continue infrastructure improvement?

Tax revenue that’s currently being set aside in reserves for the Town Center should be redirected to public safety and roads; the Town Center should be put before the voters with full details about the true cost. The Town Center is a great concept – a city hall and plaza at the heart of a large, modern shopping area would be a great addition to the city, but before spending $30 million the public deserves to vote on it. Our city can only be great if it grows with the support of the public!

How will you manage large projects such as the LakePointe Development or the Covington Connector project?

Our city’s amazing staff does the bulk of the work on this from the logistical perspective. The job of the city council is to set priorities that create an environment where these projects can succeed in a way that benefits both the developer and the people of Covington. Sometimes that means holding the developer to a higher standard, and sometimes it means accepting that the needs of public safety have to be met before optional projects are funded. For example, once the Covington Connector is constructed the ongoing LakePointe construction is going to require police protection before a single new business opens or a single new resident moves in.

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

The city council has to set priorities that meet the public’s needs in the short and long term. Being forward-looking is a must, but so is being able to look at all the sides of the issue and represent the viewpoints of everyone and not just the people who agree with you. The city council should also be taking unilateral action only when it’s truly necessary; large capital expenditures (like the Town Center) that will cost the equivalent of several years’ worth of revenue should go to a vote – the public deserves a say!

If elected, how can you increase public safety?

Tax revenue that’s currently being set aside in reserves for the Town Center should be redirected to public safety and roads; the Town Center should be put before the voters with full details about the true cost. The Town Center is a great concept – a City Hall and plaza at the heart of a large, modern shopping area would be a great addition to the city, but before spending $30 million the public deserves to vote on it. Our city can only be great if it grows with the support of the public!

Contact information and campaign website information:

I can be reached by cell phone 503-522-4043 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. My website is votejonathaningram.com, and my email is votejonathaningram@gmail.com.

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