In May I sent a list of several questions to each of the council members whose positions were going to be on the November ballot. Councilman Myers responded to my questions; his answers are listed below. Questions are in boldface; responses in italics:
- Why are you running for Redmond City Council?
Typically new Council members are learning the ropes in their first term, and then establish their interests and added expertise in the second. Things were a little slower for me as I am more fiscally conservative than the majority of members, but I have pursued interests in the environment and job creation and innovation.
- What do you think the main obligations of Council members are?
The main obligations include crafting a budget every two years, reviewing proposals made for the Council by the administration, and advocating for residents’ interests.
- What will you bring to the council position?
Eight years of experience primarily, 44 years as a transportation economist, a similar amount of time in government regulation and legislative functions. Most of all, I bring an interest in improving Redmond and staying connected with the public.
- How will you stay connected with the people in the City of Redmond?
Mostly, I participate in a lot of city volunteer events such as Green Redmond, Redmond Senior Center, Redmond Parks improvement, OneRedmond, Redmond Business Showcase, Lake Washington Schools events, the WRIA-8 Salmon Recovery Council, the Together Center and VALA. People do email me or call me as well. I believe I am responsive to those contacts.
- What projects are you excited about?
I am looking forward to creating a Senior Shuttle, building the downtown park, improving salmon habitat, and creating a vibrant, dense downtown.
- What projects would you like to see proposed or planned for the City?
We need better transportation that serves our single family areas and allows smooth movement through downtown. This involves long term commitments to a 160th Avenue extension, improvement in West Lake Sammamish Parkway from Marymoor to the junction of Bel-Red road, and Red-Wood Road.
- What challenges do you think the residents of Redmond face in the coming year? 5 years? 10 years?
I am hoping we can reduce challenges as we have gotten behind on our roads and infrastructure improvement. I see a challenge in creating a more walkable local community in each area of town, with the ability to reduce dependence on cars.
- How do you feel Redmond meets the needs of small businesses? Do you think Redmond could do better?
Our process is difficult, and we hear that from small business owners. We need to open up allowed uses and reduce the number of special zones in the city. A concept that shows a lot of promise is “Form Based Planning” which encourages innovation of uses within an area.
- What project or projects would you like to have been involved in and why?
The irony of politics is that decisions about technical issues are commonly made on the basis of consensus and administrative convenience. The Senior Shuttle, for example, as it is now envisioned, is designed for the most efficient city administration, but also the highest cost. I am particularly interested in engaging the public in programs for civic improvement such as the improvement of the Sammamish River through the Marymoor area.
- Do you feel Redmond is in step with other cities of like size and demographics?
We have a high cost of government compared with our neighbors, as well as more regulation. We also tend to take longer to determine policy issues. For example, all of our neighboring cities have established zoning and regulations for marijuana and are reaping the tax benefits. 62% of our voters endorsed this program three years ago, yet the Planning Commission has yet to be briefed.
- What are the short and long term plans to address the growing homeless situation?
The community needs to be safe, and there needs to be mechanisms to assist able-bodied persons out of homelessness, and to provide a safety nets for those who cannot be fully self-sufficient. There needs to be a better solution to transient housing than living on top of wood pallets and underneath tarps. I think a significant problem is that government has tried to control the services, but cannot provide the needed support alone. A major solution lies in the civil population of charities, volunteer efforts and churches.
- What are the short and long term plans to address the growing crime rate?
This is a bit of a false assumption as crimes against persons continue to decline, particularly in residential areas. Property crimes, primarily car break-ins and home burglaries, are rising. Property crimes are for money, and Redmond is where the money is. A significant amount of property crime involves a resident not being careful to lock up possessions and cars. These are crimes of opportunity. The city can lead an effort to make a cultural change relative to property crime. I like to feel I can trust my environment, but now I lock my doors and when shopping put all valuables out of sight.
- How is the city going to mitigate traffic congestion and parking shortages with all the growth going on?
I have been critical of our downtown parking program because we do not have a firm handle on what customer needs are and how we can create space for people to drive into commercial areas and park. Actually parking and mobility are still good in Redmond, and all of the newly developed apartments are full. Apartment residents actually own fewer cars per person, and use more transit. The city has also restricted commercial properties ability to use their own parking to absorb overnight needs, which I think needs to change.
- How do you feel the about the Budget by Priorities method the City currently uses?
The Budget by Priorities, as originally adopted, is based on the book, “The Price of Government”. Our shortcoming has been that instead of going through all the steps of the process, we have skipped a few. Consequently we have a higher price of government than our neighbors with less feeling of citizen involvement. The biggest shortcoming is that we do not build in an easy way to consider changes or alternatives. It is nearly impossible to do changes in the beginning because we do not have the entire picture, but by the time we do it is too late to make any changes in the very complex budget. In this way Budgeting by Priorities is more convoluted and less flexible than the Mayor submitting a budget and then the Council hashes it out. The BP process as described in the Price of Government is a superior system, but only if we follow the complete path.
- How can the City remain fiscally accountable to the taxpayers?
Again, the Price of Government says that if citizens feel they are not getting the services they want for the money they pay, they resist. The loss of the two levies, I believe, is an example although others feel that the voters we saying we are really doing fine, and there is not more need. Another way is to get involved in the public process. None of the Council elections are contested, including the open seat. In our neighboring cities several seats had so many running that primaries were required. We have trouble filling the Planning Commission. In democracy, the voters get the government they deserve.
From the City of Redmond City Council Page:
Term Expires 12/31/15
Chair of the Public Safety Committee
Member of the Parks & Human Services Committee
Hank has served on Redmond’s City Council since January 2008 and is now serving his second term. He has served on advisory boards for Metro Transit and the Bellevue School District. Councilmember Myers is the Director of the Eastside Friends of Seniors, and serves as Chair of the Board of the Together Center in Redmond. Hank began his professional career with Hughes Airwest as a regulatory affairs specialist and since 1980, has served as a consultant in transportation economics, including aviation and surface issues. He has a Bachelor’s degree in English from California State University. A 38-year resident and living in the Viewpoint area of Redmond, Hank is married to Christine and has two grown children. He likes to spend time volunteering with Green Redmond and at the Center for Wooden Boats.
I have corrected spelling if necessary, but have copied and pasted the comments, in whole, from the email sent by Hank Myers September 29, 2015.