Budget, economic development/business, public safetyHow will you address your top three concerns if elected to the Burien City Council?
If elected, how would you support business development and address the various portions of vacant storefronts in Burien?
Budget: The council recently decided to dip into reserves to balance the budget and revenues do not seem to be keeping pace with spending. Reducing city costs by, for example, public private partnerships on low impact development, refinancing debt at current lower rates, seeking more grants, etc, are options to consider. Transparency is key to sound decision making. The council needs regular updates and a finance director/city manager who make the best and highest use of every tax dollar collected.
Economic Development: As a resident and customer of a number of Burien businesses and most recently a candidate listening to business owners, they are not happy. It is difficult to open a business in Burien. Businesses feel burdened by excessive paperwork costly to business, permitting problems, parking impact fees and higher taxes. We need to streamline the process for new business to open, remove unnecessary financial burdens and eliminate unfair restrictions on business activities. City staff and the council members need to listen to the business owners, citizens, the advisory boards and Discover Burien and develop a strong collaborative economic development plan. (Click image for a larger copy of Debi in downtown Burien)
Safety: Making sure our city is a safe place by funding police services is essential. Hiring more officers may be necessary. I believe more can be done in certain areas of the city that have higher crime problems. Eliminating nuisances, placing more lighting and promoting neighborhood watch programs should be explored. (Click image for a larger of copy of Debi with Police Chief Kimerer at the National Night Out Block Watch Party in her neighborhood in August of this year)
What do you bring to this position that sets you apart from your opponents?
We can look at what other cities have done to create a climate where business feels the desire to locate. There are certain draws to business that can be added such as a community college satellite, a large office complex, an entertainment center which have all been suggested. Renewed interest, new ideas with a new council and city manager will go a long way to create:
- An economic development partnership who work in a friendly, cooperative climate
- Development of a robust business and economic development plan in an open public process
- Removing barriers, restrictions and reducing where possible, fees, taxes and other burdens
I have been volunteering and actively involved with my community for over 20 years. Now that my family is grown, I feel I have the time and experience to research and understand the hundreds of pages of information provided each week to the council, necessary for making informed decisions on issues that affect all of us. For many years the incumbent I am challenging has felt comfortable taking advice from the city manager rather than listening to the citizens and thoroughly researching the issues for herself. Good examples of this are the annexation of area Y/White Center and the change of Burien city government to Chicago Ward style districting. Both were opposed by Burien citizens who spoke and wrote letters and the annexation attempt failed at the polls 2 to 1. Both of these have wasted valuable council time, city staff hours and our tax dollars. I have spent many years researching and presenting as a citizen advocate before the council on these and other issues. If elected, I am ready and willing to work hard to ensure the best possible future for Burien and its citizens.Would you support resolutions that would allow and/or encourage large box stores, such as Walmart, to open locations in Burien? Why or why not?
People I have talked to during doorbelling say they do not want a Walmart in their neighborhood. It is important to listen to the voice of citizens and Burien businesses prior to decisions like this. I would have trouble approving a big box store like Walmart since it would damage local businesses who have already been struggling through a very severe recession.The 2013 Burien City Council recently appointed Craig Knutson, Burien City Attorney, as Interim City Manager after former City Manager Mike Martin resigned after accepting a position as the CIty Manager in Lynden, WA. As hiring a new City Manager is likely to be one of first issues dealt with by the 2014 Burien City Council, if elected, what would your priorities be when considering candidates for Burien's City Manager position?
Well qualified and well regarded, accountability to the public and council, collaborative leadership style, balances the interests of citizens, business, and the community, transparency in operation, open with information/no hidden agendas, honesty, integrity and fairness.If elected, would you support an increase in funding for development of parks and public recreational facilities in Burien or would you support a trimming of parks and recreational facilities funding?
Burienís budget is currently stretched to its limit. Although it would be nice to have a recreational facility in the city that serves all ages and it is clear there is need for activities to engage our youth, it may have to be approved and funded by Burien voters. As long as the council is doing their best to prioritize and the city manager/finance director are working together with the council to plan and project long term budget needs it will be clearer where the city can create and maintain amenities.
Following is a letter that Debi wrote to the Editor of the B-Town Blog on June 14, 2013:
This Wednesday, the City of Burien sent out a newsletter to its approximately 48,000 residents and on the front page of that newsletter, it failed to list me as a candidate for Council. The information for who is running in the Council election comes directly from the King County Elections website. So I find it strange that my name was excluded from the list shown in the city newsletter. When I called the city for an explanation, they couldn't explain why this error had occurred and they refused to send out a mailing correction for their error.
Now the dilemma here is that the city does not consider the blogs to be valid media sources so they are only willing to correct their error in the Highline Times and on the city website. If we are to believe the cityís surveys, only 20% of the Burien citizens get their information from the Highline Times and only 33% of Burien citizens have a computer that they get their information from. So this error in the city newsletter of not listing me as a candidate puts me at a disadvantage to the other candidates that have been announced as candidates by the city. Please tell your friends, family and neighbors that I am still running for Position #3 on the Council.
As I noted earlier in the week, the city has made it very difficult for the candidates to know at which of the city events candidates are allowed to meet and introduce themselves to the citizens. I have been clearly told that this is not allowed at the Strawberry Festival, etc. Based on how election business is allowed in the city, it is no wonder that incumbent candidates have an edge over new candidates in Burien elections. If your name is missed in the city newsletter, thousands of citizens donít know you are running because 80% of the citizens donít read the Highline Times. See the Letter that I wrote this weekó and my announcement to runó here.
One of the reasons that I decided to run for City Council was because I was concerned about how citizens and businesses were dealt with by the city, how information was not fairly disseminated to citizens, how government and Council activities were not transparent to the citizens and how citizen and business concerns were ignored by some of the Council members. These last two situations, which I have just experienced and written to the blog and newspaper about this week, are perfect examples of how citizens aren't being communicated well with by the city.
While the City Manager has just announced he is leaving, there are still major changes that have to happen to the Council to improve service to the city and its citizens. If elected, I will work to improve the quality of communication that citizens are given in the City of Burien. As a taxpayer (who pays a lot of taxes in Burien), I am very disappointed in how I have been treated by the city. Initially, I was not even offered an apology by the city for their error. Citizens deserve better treatment. I would appreciate your vote in this election.Sincerely,
The correct, complete list of City Council Candidates (as of July 9, 2013) is:
The 2013 Primary election will be Aug. 6, and the General election will be Nov. 5. Please be sure to vote.Debi's May 18, 2013 announcement of her candidacy:
My name is Debi Wagner and Iím running for Burien City Council Position #3. I would like to tell you a little about who I am and why Iím running.I believe itís time to reform Burien city government, make it accountable, transparent and responsive. Citizens need to be heard. This isn't happening with the current council majority. Public safety needs to be a top priority along with jump starting our local economy. Burienís businesses need to be revitalized and new ones need to be recruited. Environmental protection and Town Square need to be an important part of Burienís planning. With years of experience in financial management and environmental issues, I have the knowledge and skills to guide Burien during these critical economic times. Many times I have spoken as a strong citizen advocate before the Burien City Council on important city issues such as; the costs to Burien of the proposed annexation of area Y/White Center, the lack of a badly needed City business plan, the unwillingness of the council to allow citizen advisory votes on annexation, wards, Town Square and forms of government for the city. I believe we need to get back to the business of Burien, stop pointing fingers at others for blame and work together for positive change.
In recommending me for the city council, Burienís founding First Mayor and co-author of ďCarbon Reduction Ė Policies, Strategies and TechnologiesĒ Arun Jhaveri said:
ďI have known Debi for many years, as a passionate and dedicated Community Leader, working in the areas of Environment, Education, Fiscal Policies, Children Causes, and Sustainability. As a wife, mother, and champion of local issues, she has demonstrated her leadership qualities of vision, integrity, diplomacy, communication, coordination, accountability, and transparency.Ē
My husband and I are long time Burien residents Ė we love living in Burien. We chose to raise our family here because of the small town atmosphere. All of our children attended Highline schools. We support local businesses and participate in our community. I intend to preserve, sustain and enhance Burienís assets. I would appreciate your vote and look forward to working with you in making Burien an even better place to live, work and play.
Please take the time to view my video and find out what I stand for in this election at: (Link removed in 2017 due to missing video)
Please visit my web site at: friendstoelectdebiwagner.org
Any contribution would be greatly appreciated.
Email: <Debi Wagner>