Email Interview with Councilmember David Carson

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Some months ago I sent emails to several current council members who are unchallenged in this November’s election.  Of the 3 current council members; only one returned my email with answers to the questions.  I have copied the email in its entirety; only adding the questions as they were originally asked.  Two spelling or clarification items are in brackets and italicized.

David Carson holds Position #7 on the council, is a member of the Public Safety Committee and the Parks and Human Services Committee.

<Email, May 7, 2015>

Hi, David.  I’m going to feature some posts on my blog about the council members that are running for re-election/election this fall and I wondered if you’d take some time to answer some questions for me?

  • Why are you running for Redmond City Council?

I’m am running for another term on the Redmond City Council because while I think we’ve made great strides in making local government more accountable and responsive to the needs of the citizens that fund it, but there is still a substantial amount of work left to be done. I think it really takes at least one term to get the lay of the land and during a second term, you really have done the necessary learning to be effective, so it’s the third term where you can really leverage all of the knowledge and experience on council to get things done.

  • What do you think the main obligations of Council members are?

In my view, the main obligation of council members is to listen to residents and get them a fair shake if they’ve got an issue with City Hall and to be as involved in the community as possible.

  • What will you bring to the council position?

Even though I’m now work{ing} in the technology sector, I bring a former business owner point of view to the council that isn’t otherwise represented. As a business owner, I’ve had problems that were exacerbated by various levels of government, so I know how jumping through fiery hoops can feel.

  • How will you stay connected with the people in the City of Redmond?

My work with the Redmond Kiwanis as well as neighbors and friends who I keep in touch with. My employer is also based in Redmond, so keeping in touch with businesses (including patronizing small businesses in Redmond) is certainly something that I strive to do.

  • What projects are you excited about?

I’m excited about the continuing efforts at Redmond City Hall to streamline processes so that when you come to get a permit or otherwise have city business, you can expect a professional and expedited response rather than being afraid of how much time and money you’ll have to spend to get what you need. I’m also excited about the work being done to expand our Parks and Recreation offerings as well as arts and culture initiatives. I’m excited about the completion of the Downtown Park in the next few years as well as other projects related to increasing our availability of developed park land.

  • What projects would you like to see proposed or planned for the City?

This is a fairly wonkish thing, but I would like to see more funds set aside for capital improvements versus everyday operating expenses. The former will provide short-term construction jobs and will help with traffic congestion and allow managed growth to continue in Redmond. If we set aside more for these construction projects (we have about $750 million in projects that are identified, but not yet funded) we could substantially increase the quality of life of Redmond residents by getting them to and from work faster. With light rail coming to Overlake/Microsoft, we have mobility projects that will allow this area to become denser while easing congestion in that part of Redmond. It all takes money and by transferring a higher percentage from the operating budget to the capital budget, we can get to more of these projects as time goes on.

  • What challenges do you think the residents of Redmond face in the coming year?  5 years?  10 years?

Redmond faces the problems that come with it being a very desirable place to work and live. Growth is our number one issue and will be into the foreseeable future. Managing that growth effectively is key to minimizing the impacts to residents. Allowing more housing to be built near where people work allows commute times to get shorter and more time to be spent at with one’s family. The construction in and around Overlake for light rail will be a significant challenge both for residents and business owners in that area.

  • How do you feel Redmond meets the needs of small businesses?   Do you think Redmond could do better?

I think the biggest responsibility the city has to business owners (regardless of size) is to be a) predictable, b) transparent and c) provide a good atmosphere for economic growth. Excellent communication is how we can achieve those goals with our small businesses. Getting out in front of city projects that impact businesses has to happen and we need to take back the suggestions and complaints that we get and try to mitigate them to the best of our ability. We’ve got active initiatives on each of these points with our budget process to our communications strategies.

  • What project or projects would you like to have been involved in and why?

I’m particularly interested in being involved in organizing a local festival that will highlight the great beer, wine and spirits that are being produced and marketed in the Sammamish Valley (Redmond and Woodinville). This has implications for the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (to encourage events that promote higher utilization of Redmond’s hotels) and the Redmond Kiwanis chapter (whose mission is to help the youth of Redmond in a variety of ways).

  • Do you feel Redmond is in step with other cities of like size and demographics?

I think Redmond is ahead of many comparable cities in our region as well as nationally. We’ve been using the Budgeting by Priorities model of budgeting now for nearly 8 years and we’re really starting to reap the benefits of it. Our regional participation in the various organizations is certainly one measure of an active and forward-thinking council as well. This council is active in literally dozens of regional policy boards which means that Redmond is guiding the policies of Western Washington, not just our city of 55,000.

  • What are the short and long-term plans to address the growing homeless situation?

    Regarding the homeless situation, this administration (Redmond PD specifically) has taken the lead to work on this issue and mitigate the effects of the growing population of homeless folks we’re seeing in Redmond. The jury is still out as to whether this effort will be successful, but we are starting to see some abatement in the impact to the community.

  • What are the short and long-term plans to address the growing crime rate?

    Actually, it’s a mixed bag in terms of crime in Redmond. Violent crimes are actually down but property crimes are up a bit. It does seem that repeat offenders are victimizing Redmond residents more and this is due to the “Catch and Release” nature of property crimes at the moment. Until these crimes are punished more severely, I doubt it’s likely that we’ll see any improvement. Unfortunately this is largely a county and state issue where Redmond can only advocate for more funding that would either keep these criminals locked up longer or get them effective drug treatment (since most offenders are victimizing others because of their drug habit), and I would like to push our state legislators to accelerate the penalty schedule for repeat offenses in this area so that we don’t have keep dealing with the same people stealing to support their drug addictions.

  • How is the city going to mitigate traffic congestion and parking shortages with all the growth going on?

    Congestion and parking shortages are indeed a casualty of success. In the last 8 years, we’ve seen increased connectivity with the near completion of the downtown grid as well as the Bear Creek Parkway extension’s completion. There are a few other connections and improvements that would alleviate congestion further such as the widening of West Lake Sammamish Parkway from Marymoor to Bel-Red Road or widening of Willows Road and Highway 202 between downtown and 124th Ave NE. An additional road that would connect downtown to Highway 202 is also on the drawing board, but finding the funding is difficult.

  • How do you feel the about the Budget by Priorities method the City currently uses?

    Budgeting by Priorities (BP) is an excellent process, and every biennium we find a few more things that we tweak to get better results. It’s clearly far superior to Baseline Budgeting in terms of measuring inputs and outcomes to make sure that we’re getting the results we desire at a price we can afford. It also encourages involvement from the community as well as measuring the outcomes so we know whether a certain program or project is delivering on its promises.

  • How can the City remain fiscally accountable to the taxpayers?

Well, the BP (Budgeting by Priorities) process goes a long way to mapping out that accountability and transparency for Redmond taxpayers to see. This really is a one-stop-shopping of government accountability concept. Also, I would say that while generally the mayor and council are on the same page w.r.t. {with regards to} the overall priorities of Redmond government, the refinement and adjustments that council brings to mayoral/staff proposals means that we’re usually getting a better product than what was initially proffered. While we may disagree from time to time on policy issues, it’s become a norm for that not to become personal which would hinder cooperation on future policy topics. The taxpayer’s ultimate check on your municipal government is at the ballot box. If you think someone has become strident (or alternatively a rubber stamp), it’s always the prerogative of the voter to turn them out. It’s council’s job to make sure the city spends your money wisely and it’s the voter’s job to select the council members that can do that.

Thanks for offering the forum for candidates to make their views known on these topics and I sincerely ask for the voters to mark their ballot for me in November. I really appreciate it!

David Carson

Redmond City Council, Position 7

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