Puyallup: News

Q and A with Puyallup City Council Candidates

The Puyallup Herald recently conducted a question and answer session via email with each of the candidates running for Puyallup City Council positions. This is the second in a two-part series featuring each of the candidates. This week features candidates John Palmer and Keith Sherrill for District 2, as well as District 3 candidates Robin Ordonez and Tom Swanson. Last week’s edition featured Dean Johnson and Steve Vermillion for the at-large position, as well as Pat McGregor and Robin Farris for the District 1 position.

District 2

John Palmer

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue/issues facing Puyallup?

A: Two important issues are public safety and smart growth. Ensuring our police are well trained and equipped to help prevent and fight crime is a top priority. Well planned development promotes new businesses, jobs, and housing that fits in our community. It’s also vital to develop and protect the Van Lierop farmland area in a way that’s compatible with our city as originally zoned, not eight massive warehouses as proposed.

Q: What in your mind makes you the best fit for Puyallup City Council?

A: Experience and commitment. While raising our daughter over the last 16 years, I’ve been extensively involved serving our community as a planning commissioner, volunteer coach, school and community volunteer, Herald guest columnist, and a council member the last four years. I also have a master’s in Public Administration and 30 years of government policy experience.

Q: What change would you like to see in Puyallup?

I would like to see a more professional and respectful Council; regional, collaborative, and firm solutions to significantly improve our homeless problem; reduced traffic congestion in key areas, and new multi-sport recreational fields for our kids and families.

Keith Sherrill

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue/issues facing Puyallup?

A: Homelessness: The council must keep the dialogue open in order to ensure we help, but not enable this population. By not weighing in, or providing guidance to our local nonprofits who aim to address this issue, we may end up with solutions that undermine our police force, cause negative economic outcomes within our parks/downtown core, and simply don’t address the root cause (drugs/mental illness?). I have already started to educate myself on the issue by conducting a ride along with the Puyallup Police Dept., visiting the New Hope Resource Center and Good Samaritan Hospital.

Q: What in your mind makes you the best fit for Puyallup City Council?

A: Perspective: I have lived all over the country…I know what makes Puyallup a great community and I intend to preserve it. It’s true that I’m not from Puyallup, but I chose to live here!

Relevance: I am active in the community. I am the Chair of the Puyallup Parks, Recreation, and Senior Advisory Board. I frequent our small businesses (Coffee at Anthem, lunch at Arista, dinner at Crocketts, and a beer at Powerhouse!), wrote my college thesis on Boeing’s 787 at the Puyallup Library, and I am a frequent workforce commuter via the Sounder Train. Issues such as the upcoming school bond (VOTE YES!) are particularly important to me as my 2-year-old son approaches school age.

Vitality: right?

Q: What change would you like to see in Puyallup?

A: I would like to fix our roads, while increasing walkability/bike ability throughout our town. Additionally, we should work with the Chamber of Commerce / Main Street Association to fill our empty storefronts by reducing barriers to entry for “would-be” small business owners … the whole community benefits from their success. Lastly, a change is needed for a council that is less contentious, and delivers results!

District 3

Robin Ordonez

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue/issues facing Puyallup?

A: We have an opportunity this election to protect our small town sense of community and quality of life. The other option is to over-develop our land with big box warehouses. My vision for Puyallup is preserving open space and agricultural lands and plan for smart, controlled growth in our town.

Q: What in your mind makes you the best fit for Puyallup City Council?

A: My experience working for Pierce County and serving as Chair on the city’s Planning Commission are needed on the Puyallup City Council right now. I’ve have run cost-effective, environmentally-sound large projects for the County. I understand the importance of economic development to cities and, more importantly, how it’s actually accomplished.

Q: What change would you like to see in Puyallup?

A: I would like to see Puyallup provide more sidewalks and crosswalks in areas that are near schools and parks. This is a significant public safety issue for our community, particularly near Ferrucci Junior High School and Sunrise Elementary, where a safe crosswalk is many blocks away. We can do better.

Tom Swanson

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue/issues facing Puyallup?

A: The most pressing issue facing Puyallup is the same issue facing all of America. Hardworking, middle-class families are struggling. Bills and expenses keep increases and wages don’t. If they don’t have money in their pockets, our local economy doesn’t have fuel. For the City’s part, we need to make sure we’re minimizing the financial burden to our citizens by providing services as cost effectively as possible. That is why I voted against the multiple utility rate increases which will end up costing many middle-class families in our community $300 to $400 more for their utilities. I proposed an amendment that would first audit city operations for efficiencies and cost savings. This amendment was unfortunately defeated. We need to put the financial needs of our citizens ahead of the fiscal wants of our bureaucracies.

Q: What in your mind makes you the best fit for Puyallup City Council?

A: Elections are about differences. The biggest difference in this election is my years of experience, involvement and proven community leadership. The reason my first reaction to challenges is to look at our amazing resources in our service groups and nonprofit sector is because I’ve been active in these groups, far before being on the Council. By serving on the boards of and having volunteered with The One Another Foundation/Puyallup Cares, the local Association of the U.S. Army, Argus Manor senior housing, the Chamber of Commerce and numerous others commissions and task forces, I know how capable our community is of solving problems if government acts as a resource and not an obstacle. When someone hasn’t been involved and doesn’t trust the community, their natural reactions to any issue is more government, more bureaucracy. I know our community, I trust our community and I know how to continue turning City Hall into a resource for our community.

Q: What change would you like to see in Puyallup?

A: On the same string of thought as the previous question, it isn’t or shouldn’t be about what I or any Council wants to change or what our ‘vision’ is. It should be about what citizens want to change and what the communities vision is and how do we organize City Hall so it’s a resource for citizens and community groups to achieve that. Saving the Puyallup Historic Fish Hatchery and growing it into the amazing educational resource it now was nowhere on any politicians agenda four years ago. A group of active and concerned citizens made that happen. The best thing we (the City) did was helping guide those citizens through a bureaucratic process and making city resources available to add to their efforts. When rumors of a halfway house for sex offender on Shaw Road surfaced, my immediate response was to task the city manager to hold a public meeting, which was attended by 500 citizens. We got the facts on the table, we set clear expectations of what the city could and could not legally do and we identified what city codes and state laws needed to change. This allowed for those citizens to navigate both the city zoning/land use process and the legislative process in Olympia. We were able to protect our neighborhoods, not by more government, but instead by more community.

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