During Redmond Mayor John Marchione’s 12-year tenure, the city’s population has increased by about 30 percent.
Redmond, home to Microsoft, has seen the region’s population and housing booms hit hard there.
Marchione is not running for re-election, and whoever takes his place will face a city much different from when he took the helm. Three have filed to run in the Aug. 6 primary.
Two candidates are members of the City Council, and another is a real-estate agent. They say they have the experience to lead a rapidly changing city.
Angela Birney is president of the Redmond City Council, which she has served on since 2016. She was a chair of the Parks and Trails Commission in Redmond as well as a middle-school teacher. Her experience growing up in Eastern Washington “with lots of contrasting opinions” showed her the value of listening to residents in Redmond, which she described as a small town that is growing into a big city. She cited her work in making City Council meetings available on video for residents to watch as one way she worked to make residents feel involved.
“People who have been here a long time feel left out,” she said. “I want to make sure their voices are heard.”
Birney described Microsoft as a “thoughtful partner” that the city has an exceptionally good relationship with. She would like to continue partnerships with Microsoft and Sound Transit to build more housing and add density in transit areas.
Andrew Koeppen is a Windermere realtor and owns a printing business. He was born in Australia to German immigrants, and then moved to Edmonton, Canada, where he grew up. He worked for telecommunications companies in Canada, Germany and Maryland before moving to Redmond. He became a U.S. citizen last year.
As a realtor, he said, he has heard from longtime Redmond residents who had to move because they couldn’t afford to continue living in the city. He calls himself an outsider who wants to encourage input from residents in a way he doesn’t think the current city leaders have done.
“I may not have all the solutions, but I have ideas, and when people are free to have ideas, we can have a civil discussion, and we can come up with the best solution,” he said.
Koeppen said he thinks Redmond has shown disrespect for Microsoft, a company he likened to “the rich uncle in a family” that the city should be thankful for. To address housing affordability, he would like the city to build more condos, instead of apartments, to emphasize homeownership, and offer buying assistance.
Steve Fields has been a Redmond city councilmember since 2017 and owns a coffee shop in Redmond. He previously ran for mayor in 2015, but lost to incumbent Marchione. He said he wants the city to plan its growth more strategically, and feels that the city’s focus hasn’t been on “quality of life, but the quantity of apartments.” He spends time learning from residents, he said, such as when he traveled through the city in a wheelchair with another person who uses a wheelchair to learn about the challenges the resident faces.
“Our residents are our best city planners,” he said. “We need to listen to them.”
If elected, he would like to do more to address the arrival of light rail in Redmond by looking at how people will get to and from the stations.