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Pos. 5 candidates’ views on Island issues

During the past few weeks, Reporter staff and editorial board sat down with City Council Pos. 5 candidates Bruce Bassett and Patti Darling to discuss their campaign goals. Earlier this summer, the team asked the same set of questions to the four Pos. 3 candidates before the Aug. 21 primary. The responses of the candidates for Pos. 3, Mike Cero and Maureen Judge, can be read online at www.mi-reporter.com or in the Aug. 15 Reporter.

In preparation for the November election, we discussed the top priorities of the candidates for Pos. 5 and their positions on certain Island issues such as the PEAK project, the Town Center, emergency preparedness and our parks. Here’s what they had to say.

Why they’re running for public office:

Both Bassett and Darling stated they were eager to run for office so they could give back to the community. They also both shared displeasure with the current Council micro-managing city projects.

Bassett - “We enjoy things like parks and open space and now it’s our turn to leave a legacy for our kids that we’re proud of. One of the things that irritates me when I go to Council meetings is that I see the Council micro-managing staff. The Council should be pulling people together to make the energy needed to make their vision happen.”

Darling - “I’ve always had an interest in politics, and I feel this is my turn to serve the community. I feel I can change the complexion of the Council a bit because I bring a fit for the two under-represented voices on the Council, those being seniors and women. I have always been able to compromise a situation without compromising people’s principles.”

On their top three priorities:

Both candidates agreed maintaining parks were of high importance to them. Darling’s top three priorities included emergency preparedness, local transportation and conserving parks. Bassett said his top priorities are environmental issues, the Town Center and getting more Islanders involved in their community.

Darling - “I am very concerned about transportation. If you can’t get out of your house and catch a bus or if you have to drive to a bus stop, then you don’t have bus service. I also want to preserve SOV access to the I-90 HOV lanes and resist any more jet traffic over the Island. And I want to certainly maintain, retain and improve our open spaces and parks. Every inch of it. I do not want them developed.”

Bassett - “The Town Center is the No. 1 issue I hear about. People come about it from all angles. For some, we need a traffic signal at the corner of 27th, for others, it’s parking. The city’s efforts with the Town Center are great but as far as establishing a sense of place I don’t think we’ve nailed that down yet. I want to leave a legacy regarding environmental issues and preserve our open spaces and parks. I also believe in a transparent government. That empowers folks.”

On mitigating the impacts of PEAK:

Both candidates stressed the importance of fixing the traffic problems at the high school to help reduce the potential impact of PEAK on the surrounding neighborhood.

Bassett - “I have found good people who hate PEAK and good people who love PEAK and there seems to be no middle ground. I went out and door-belled the whole area, and all I heard about was traffic. That's the common ground because nobody is saying traffic is not a problem. I’m trying to get kids to bike or walk to school. I haven’t run into an adult who didn’t get to school that way. We didn’t drive our own car. We walked.”

Darling - “I am hopeful that as we create more parking we alleviate some of the traffic. There will certainly be less traffic if kids don’t have to drive around the neighborhood in search of parking. I think they could move the school buses to the city maintenance building to create more parking. Local transportation has also got to improve. I think PEAK is a bit grand, but it’s a wonderful gift and I think we can work it out.”

On the parking woes in Town Center:

Darling said she wants to find out more about reserving parking spots in the new park-and -ride for Island vehicles with a parking sticker. She is also keen on getting more Metro service on the Island. Bassett wants to see the plan to share parking in the Town Center develop further.

Darling - “I would like to have a portion of the park-and-ride for residents only. I think a lot of cars come from Bellevue to park there, and I would like to go out there and count the off-Island cars to see if we have a case for a parking sticker. There are also lot of people who don’t even want to drive and if they could get a bus they’d be very happy.”

Bassett - “In the Town Center we’ve come to the era of no walk-offs. I like that the city manager is working for a plan for shared parking. The heart of what I want to do is make a walkable downtown where people can get around without driving. The goal should be to create a community where people don’t want to get into their cars by making it easier to get around on a bike or something similar.”

On their top park projects:

Both candidates recognized a tremendous potential at Luther Burbank and they both want to see an education facility added.

Bassett - “Luther Burbank shoreline erosion is a top priority. I’d like to see more upgrading of fields. I’d also like to see a an environmental education center. We are trying to figure out what programs to put into place at Luther Burbank and find what resonates with people.”

Darling - “I walk my dog everyday in the off-leash area at Luther Burbank Park. I also support the environmental education center. I really love the trails on the Island. I love walking my dog no matter what park it is.”

On preparing the Island for an emergency:

Both candidates agreed the Council should make the city’s emergency preparedness coordinator a full-time position. They also see potential in improving or expanding the neighborhood preparedness program. Darling suggested identifying the Island’s medical workers and the local medical offices to use after a disaster. Bassett urged more community involvement by working on the neighborhood organization effort.

Darling - “The first thing I would like to do is make Rebecca Clark, our emergency prep. coordinator, from a part-time employee to full-time. I know that there are a lot of doctors and nurses on the Island which could be on a list and I would like to know of all the medical facilities on the Island. There are lots of vets, dentists and doctor’s offices with at least the standard medical tools and space that could be emergency medical centers. I envision allowing Rebecca to spend more time doing that, and I’d like to help her reinstate the block captain system. We have a fabulous HAM radio group and I’d like to see that wonderful group continue what they are doing.”

Bassett - “I agree that Rebecca as a part-time employee is over -taxed. I think making her a full- time employee makes sense. I was involved in getting the raised crosswalk near Lakeridge elementary. The neighborhood program takes a similar approach by determining who is at risk, who has certain special skills, who has supplies. That is the kind of neighborhood building I want to see. The neighborhood organization structure is not what it could be and not getting the attention it needs. Some areas have really well organized groups that not only create emergency preparedness, it creates a richer community that empowers everybody. I’d like to see an inventory of what’s in the emergency containers.”

On public plazas in the Town Center

The candidates again agreed that they expected more public space in the Town Center to come with re-development. Bassett said he wanted to bring community-building events, such as a farmers’ market, to the Town Center. Darling said she feels like the city was taken advantage of and would do what she could to make sure that didn’t happen again.

Bassett - “I really want to bring some sense of identity or sense of place to the Town Center and to do that I would like to see a farmer's market. In addition to helping residents buy groceries produced locally, farmer's markets are very huge community builders and that’s the kind of thing we need to be promoting. I would also like to see some town square put there.”

Darling - “We were supposed to trade public amenities for height. Some of those plazas built are not my idea of a public amenity. I just think somebody has taken advantage of the goodwill of the Council or whoever makes those final decisions. I would make sure to pay more attention. The City Council owes more to the community than what they have in front of the new structures.”

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