Snoqualmie is known for its natural beauty, its most famous asset being the 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls that draws 1. 5 million visitors a...
Snoqualmie is known for its natural beauty, its most famous asset being the 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls that draws 1.5 million visitors a year from around the world.
But after tourists stop to snap photos of the misty cascades, most simply get in their cars and leave.
Candidates for the City Council say it’s imperative to capture this incoming traffic so future visitors won’t head elsewhere to spend their dollars.
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Revitalizing an aging downtown with shops, cafes and restaurants and boosting the city’s commercial tax base are among the highest-priority issues in the Nov. 8 race. The city faces a $2 million budget shortfall by 2010, when it will stop collecting one-time revenue from the development of Snoqualmie Ridge. Also at issue is whether it makes fiscal sense for Snoqualmie to keep its own police department or contract the services out to King County.
Four candidates are running for two contested seats. Running unopposed for the remaining four seats are incumbents Kingston Wall, Maria Henriksen, Charles Peterson and Kathi Prewitt, for Positions 4, 5, 6, and 7, respectively.
Occupation: Settlement broker working with litigation attorneys, insurance companies and cities to resolve bodily injury cases
Personal: Married; two children
Background: Former claims manager for the city of Seattle, president of the Tanner Jeans Memorial Foundation
Top endorsements: City Councilwoman Kathi Prewitt, Snoqualmie Arts Commissioner Gloria McNeely, Parks Board member Brent Lutz
Campaign Web site: www.jeans4council.com
Tony Yanez, 54
Occupation: Product-support analyst and lead instructor for the military-training program
Personal: Married; five children
Background: Snoqualmie City Councilman, 1995-96; Planning Commission, 2001-present; Snoqualmie Library Board, 2001-present
Top endorsements: Fuzzy Fletcher, mayor of Snoqualmie; Marcia Korich, former Snoqualmie City Councilwoman; Frank Myers, former mayor of Snoqualmie
Campaign Web site: www.yanez4council.us
Gil Tumey, 54
Occupation: Service delivery manager for the information-technology department at Boeing
Personal: Married; two children
Background: Founding member of the Institute for Professional Ethics at Seattle University in the mid-1990s; president of King County Search and Rescue from 1998-2002; founding member and president of King County Emergency Coordination Support Team; author of “The Journey: Revelations for Personal and Professional Relationships”
Top endorsements: Fuzzy Fletcher, mayor of Snoqualmie; State Rep. Jay Rodne
Campaign Web site: www.gilforcouncil.com
Bryan Holloway, 44
Occupation: Project manager for the Phantom Works research-and-development unit of Boeing
Personal: Married; two children
Background: Graduated from University of North Dakota, 1985; Boeing employee for 19 years
Top endorsements: Snoqualmie City Councilman Matt Larson, Parks Board member Peter Pecora, Snoqualmie Arts Commissioner Bruce Carlson.
Campaign Web site: www.bryan4council.com
Robert Jeans had never given a thought to public service until a pickup truck struck and killed his 7-year-old grandson, Tanner, last year.
The family started the Tanner Jeans Memorial Foundation and Jeans began working with the Snoqualmie Police Department to organize events in the boy’s honor. He grew more interested in city government after that and began to attend council meetings.
He says he’s committed to revamping downtown and wants to have more public discussion of what type of businesses and industries the city should recruit. “Whether it’s high-tech or light industry, it’s a wonderful rural setting here and some businesses will covet that.”
Attracting more retail and other economic anchors is the best way to generate much-needed funds when the city’s one-time revenues dry up in five years, he said.
“We need to find a way to get people to stay here,” he said, referring to the Snoqualmie Falls tourists.
Jeans, a settlement broker who handles dispute resolutions, says he’s in favor of keeping Snoqualmie’s police and fire services local. “There is nothing more vital than for our citizens to feel safe and secure knowing that our local public-safety professionals are immediately available to us in an emergency,” he said.
Jeans also favors building a community center — Ridge developers set property aside for one near Center and Ridge avenues — and said he would be open to partnering with other entities to help share building and maintenance costs.
His opponent, Tony Yanez, is a former city councilman who served from 1995-96 when the city drafted its comprehensive plan. Yanez said he wants to be on the council again to “get growth back to a manageable level.”
The city’s population jumped from 1,631 in 2000 to an estimated 6,345 in 2005, making Snoqualmie the fastest-growing city in King County, according to figures released this year from the state Office of Financial Management. The growth was at the Ridge, a master-planned community built under a “live, work, play” concept, where about 75 percent of the city now lives. More homes are on the way.
“We grew too fast; that’s why we’re having so many problems,” he said.
Yanez said revenue has not kept pace with expenses, citing rising personnel costs, an unbalanced tax base and a slow economy. If elected, he wants to keep the city’s police force and cut costs in other places.
His suggestions for “belt-tightening” include improving technology to reduce future staffing needs; consolidating services, equipment and personnel costs within departments; and increasing use of volunteers.
Yanez said he wants to preserve Snoqualmie’s small-town quality of life. “I’m not no-growth; that would be like putting your head in the sand. My policy is to manage it.”
Gil Tumey ran unsuccessfully for a council seat two years ago, but is giving it another shot because he wants to build “a strong and vibrant community.”
Tumey is interested in a community/activity center at the Ridge site that would feature a workout room, meeting rooms and shops. While the idea of a swimming pool has been floated, it would cost too much to maintain, he said.
“This would be a community center that actually belongs to the community,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be the Taj Mahal in one day. It can grow over time.”
Tumey, who works in information technology at Boeing, said there needs to be more discussion on what constitutes the vision of the city.
“The future of a city is a like a puzzle,” he said. “Right now, there’s no picture on that puzzle. The idea is to define it and once it’s defined, it’s like doing a master plan for your landscaping.”
Bryan Holloway is a political newcomer who decided to run to help find solutions to the city’s looming financial trouble.
“We really need to look at containing costs in the city and be aggressive with economic development,” he said.
Holloway said he would explore how attractions such as Snoqualmie Falls, the Northwest Railway Museum, Salish Lodge, the historic downtown and retail stores on the Ridge can complement and augment one another.
He also wants to bring more government transparency to citizens “so there is a free flow of data back and forth.”
He suggests creating a monthly status report on the expenses of key city departments and projects.
Holloway is a project manager for the Phantom Works research-and-development unit of Boeing, where he works on electronics and electrical-systems designs.
Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or email@example.com