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Kenmore City Council race for position 2 pits incumbent Sperry against Black and Prince | Vote 2013
The Reporter submitted four questions to each council candidate. Here is how they answered. For the entire Q&A visit Kenmore-Reporter.com and search “Vote 2013.”
Laurie Sperry was first elected to the Kenmore City Council in 2005 and three generations of her family live in the city.
But Sperry faces an August primary for Position 2 against two challengers, Bob Black and Mark Prince, who have lived in the city for decades and disagree with many of the council's decisions.
Black moved to Kenmore in 1985 and his interest in the council seat is to "make Kenmore more than a bus stop between Seattle and Bothell." He says that it does not take a degree to be an effective council member, "just common sense and a willingness to listen."
Prince is a lifelong Kenmore resident and has worked as the treasurer of the Northwest section of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He is currently a production supervisor for a Woodinville company.
"If the city is doing its job right, it should not have to take the actions of the citizens to bring the attention of problems in the city to City Hall for correction," said Prince.
All three agree that transportation and infrastructure are one of the top three issues facing the city.
Black is a big proponent of having a walkable city by "keeping [roads and sidewalks] maintained and installing new sidewalks."
He wants to end the "city's excuses of having no funds to fix them."
Kenmore incorporated just 15 years ago and has been slowly upgrading from a rural infrastructure, according to Sperry.
"It would cost $36 million to put sidewalks throughout the city or $2 million a year," said Sperry. "The council just adopted a 20-year sidewalk plan to build priority sidewalk segments seeking grants to leverage city dollars."
Prince cites tolling the area and increased traffic on State Routeh 522 as part of the issue.
He says that 520 tolling "has already increased traffic on Bothell Way and moved more traffic onto our neighborhoods and residential streets," said Prince. "With the plans to add tolling to Interstate 90, this will only add to the current problem."
Sperry also cites an additional issue with Kenmore's transportation infrastructure: "The condition of the Sammamish bridge is being closely monitored and may need to be restored or replaced in the near future, which is a major financial investment."
She is also very passionate about having a place for kids to play within walking distance from their homes and wants to see a Boys and Girls Club in Kenmore.
Black and Prince see taxes and operating costs within the city as a major issue.
"Our city's current salary structure needs to be in line with that of our city, not that of our neighboring cities of Bothell and Woodinville and their larger business tax base," said Prince. "That includes a number of medical research, technology, manufacturing, large stores and wineries."
Black said the council needs to be more careful about "frivolous spending" and must prioritize needs. He is also concerned about the transparency within the city.
"There needs to be an end to the closed-door meetings, plus the city needs to be more visible and accountable," said Black, who also wants to see Kenmore adopt the initiative and referendum concept.
Sperry and Prince mentioned economic development as big issues for Kenmore.
Prince wants to know why Kenmore residents have to go to neighboring cities for their shopping needs.
"A problem is in Kenmore’s business development plan," said Prince. "[It] has put restrictions on the type and location of new businesses within our business districts and this is sending our residents elsewhere to do business."
Sperry sees increasing waterfront access and promoting the city's quality of life as important to luring new businesses to the area.
The redevelopment of Kenmore Village has been a big economic lightning rod for the city. Officials announced two buyers for the property last month.
Sperry said that it is easy to criticize the city when all residents see is empty storefronts.
"However, the time of waiting is over," said Sperry, who added she was not in office when the city purchased the land. "Kenmore Camera is working hard to move into their new store by fall. On June 10, I voted to approve the purchase and sale agreement for the redevelopment of the remaining commercial property. Public amenities will include a 10,000 [square foot] public town green space, new sidewalks, lighting and street-scape."
But Black and Prince take issue with the decisionmaking.
"The city has placed blame away from them and is now throwing around a lot of numbers that makes this deal sound really good," said Prince, who said the city paid 45 percent paid 45 percent more for the property than the assessed value. "Today the value of the remaining Kenmore Village property has an assessed value of $4.7 million and the city accepted $1.8 million for that remainder of Kenmore Village."
Prince believes the city should have reexamined the criteria for the property to attract more bidders.
"These tax dollars should have been used in the development and repair of the roads and development that really benefits the citizens, as the city council and city management originally promised," said Black. "At this point in time, it is merely a bankrupt-style bailout in an attempt to save face and recoup pennies on the dollar."
Black and Prince believe the city needs to stop pushing away businesses that don't fit the city's vision.
"Provide incentives for business that provide worth and jobs to the area and residents," said Black. "Entertain larger businesses that can provide worth and even jobs for the area. Make the area fit for business and residential, and responsible developments will come."
Prince said that Kenmore is a potential gold mine with SR-522 running through the downtown.
"The city currently does not allow or encourage the types of business … that would allow the consumer to stop and shop, now leaving neighboring communities to take advantage of our passive approach," said Prince.
Sperry touts Kenmore's Business Incubator program and wants to see a local business organization to improve communication.
Prince would also like to see a different approach to deterring graffiti and a more proactive cleanup process.
To learn more about the candidates
Laurie Sperry, visit www.lauriesperry.com
Bob Black, email BobCBlack@msn.com
Mark Prince, email email@example.com