Candidates were asked to try to keep each response to 150 words.
Position: City Council, Pos. 4
Opponent: Ryan Olson
Why did you choose to run for council?
As a 25-year Clyde Hill resident, I appreciate our quality of life and strive to improve it. After 35 years in the business world, I’m retiring in November and want to spend the next phase of my career serving our community.
Clyde Hill faces numerous post-pandemic challenges and opportunities. Our residents deserve a cohesive city council that will work effectively with the incoming (presumptive) mayor, Steve Friedman (currently council Position 1). As I’ve come up to speed on the issues, I’m endorsed by Steve Friedman, current council members Kim Muromoto (Position 3) and Dean Hachomovitch (Position 5), Yarrow Point Mayor Katy Harris, and former council member Scott Moore (vacated Position 2 in May).
These endorsements underscore that our local government officials have stated their preference for Position #4. They consider me a capable problem solver and effective collaborator. If elected, I’ll be honored to work with them. Read more: www.mark4clydehill.com.
What is your plan to solve the budget crisis?
To contextualize the budget crisis without getting into the weeds: Clyde Hill has several million dollars of cash surplus resulting from revenue from the construction of two schools in the 2010s. But the city now spends >$500k per year more than it takes in from revenues and can only do this for a few more years before running out of money.
Preventing a crisis involves some combination of reducing expenses and increasing revenues (taxes and fees). My approach: before reflexively raising property taxes beyond the normal 1%/year (as Medina did in 2019), let’s first cut some expenses. (Salaries/benefits represent 60% of expenses, increasing >10%/year). We should:
- Convert some benefit-rich FTE jobs to contract employees.
- Pool some “back office” (IT, infrastructure) and other expenses with Yarrow Point and Medina.
- Eliminate sales tax revenue leakage (to Bellevue) from online commerce.
- Stay vigilant on public safety; do NOT reduce police force.
How would you handle conflicts of interest?
My desire to serve on the Clyde Hill City Council stems from an interest in serving my community. That’s it. I have nothing to personally gain from serving on the council and foresee no conflicts of interest.
Should a conflict arise, I will do what I’ve always done: disclose and recuse.
At Microsoft I oversee a $1 billion venture-style investment fund. We have deployed $700 million through > 50 investments. We operate in strict compliance with all state, federal, and international investment regulations. Earlier this year, a long-time friend was raising money for his startup. His company appeared to be a perfect fit for our fund. My approach: I introduced the deal to the team, immediately disclosed my friendship, clarified that I had zero financial interest in the company, and recused myself from the investment committee vote.
If elected, I will operate with the same level of transparency and integrity.
If you could wave your hand and make one change to the city code, what would it be and why?
If I could wave my hand and make one change, it would not be to the Clyde Hill City code. Instead, it would be a change to the county and state code which allocates only 5% of our property taxes to small cities like Clyde Hill. But I don’t have a magic wand, and getting King County to allocate more money to small cities can’t be the only way forward. The path forward can’t be about changing a single policy. Rather, it must be about empowering the residents of Clyde Hill to influence changes to all policies. If elected, I’ll strive to create a sense of “resident empowerment” through a transparent and accountable government that systematically listens to its residents and acts with urgency.
What is the top concern you’ve heard from residents?
Recent conversations with residents reveal that they have multiple concerns about the future of Clyde Hill. By far the top concern is preventing runaway increases in property taxes. This threatens the affordability and diversity of our community – especially for fixed income residents. Fiscal responsibility and budget discipline are a must, and residents understandably want to know that they can trust the local government to make good decisions with respect to how their money is spent.
Second, residents are concerned about public safety and security. Crime rates are on the rise, and we must stay vigilant. This is why I do NOT support cutting police as part of a balanced budget.
Third, residents are anxious about new affordable housing legislation coming from Olympia (House Bills 1110, “Middle Housing”; and 1337, “ADUs”). There are still many unknowns, but residents want some assurance that we will minimize the impact of these new laws.