<Letter sent to Redmond Reporter Editor, Andy Nystrom; not printed in September 18, 2015 edition>
Dear Editor (Redmond Reporter):
As a resident and small business owner in Redmond I want to add my strong support and endorsement of Steve Fields for Mayor of Redmond. Steve’s solid work history shows that he has the right experience for the job. More importantly, he is not only attentive to the concerns of citizens, he actually understands those concerns. When I saw that Steve Fields was running I contacted him via email even though we had never met. He responded to me very quickly and actually asked to meet with me one on one to discuss the issues the city faces. The fact that he actually listens is a welcome relief and that alone makes him one of the most refreshing candidates for any office that I have ever met.
In contrast, the current mayor only seems interested in the feedback of the residents and business owners whose views directly align with his. He uses the fancy buzz phrase that “development should pay for development,” yet development has not paid for development, hence the need for levies to pay for amenities that attract and enrich out-of-town developers.
In my view, Mayor Marchione is much too cozy with these developers. Consider the following example before you cast your vote in November:
John Marchione was instrumental in forming OneRedmond – a “public – private partnership” to which Redmond taxpayers contribute $100,000 per year. OneRedmond has 43 members, many of whom are either out-of-town real estate developers, or businesses that make their money from the real estate development industry. As part of the process of forming OneRedmond, the Redmond Chamber of Commerce, which had 450 members (mostly small businesses) was dissolved. So clearly, Mayor Marchione is not very interested in the views and concerns of small businesses in Redmond.
John Marchione sits on the board of OneRedmond along with councilman Tom Flynn, and sitting next to him is a Kirkland developer, Robert Pantley. Mr. Pantley is proposing to build yet another “micro suite” building, 162Ten, in Redmond. These buildings typically consist of 95 “suites” that are simply a bedroom and a bathroom. They are about 150 square feet each, and rent for up to $1000 per month, not including parking fees. If you wondered what has been driving up normal apartment rents, wonder no longer. Anything goes if you can rent 150 square feet for nearly $1000 per month. It seems like 2007 all over again, where supply and demand economics goes out the window and the price is decided on the concept of “how much can we get?”
Of interest, OneRedmond claims to own the site where Pantley wants to build “162Ten” because the Chamber of Commerce owned it, and OneRedmond subsumed them. This is also the site of the old Nokomis club building, a site of historical significance. Despite that, the OneRedmond board on which Marchione sits sold it to fellow board member, Pantley, with the express purpose of demolishing it. Sadly, Pantley’s company has been approved for these builds by the city, even when they require zoning variances for parking or other favors, such as ignoring the historical significance of a building. The appearance of a conflict of interest is strong, in my opinion.
Mayor Marchione promoted and is using $32 million dollars in city funds to pay for a downtown park that is clearly meant for the tenants of these developers given that it has no parking nearby. It is a nice amenity for developers to tout to potential tenants of these high and mid-rise buildings, but unfortunately these gifts to developers are hard on the taxpayer’s checkbook. That’s is why the Mayor asked for the park levy that subsequently failed. The fact that he now says the failure of the levies indicates to him that Redmond voters think he is doing an excellent job just might be the most out of touch statement I have ever heard from a politician.
John Marchione seems to have forgotten that he was elected to represent the citizens of Redmond first, and foremost – not the developers. In my opinion it is time to thank Mayor Marchione for his years of service, and elect Steve Fields to replace him.