Candidates were asked to try to keep each response to 150 words.
Position: City Council, Pos. 2
Opponent: Ashley Eckel
Why did you choose to run for council?
The short answer: To make a positive impact on our City. I believe Clyde Hill can be financially solvent while keeping our safety, and residents can be treated fairly and in a positive manner regarding all issues they bring to City Hall.
My background as a Vice-Chair at Deloitte (recently retired) where working with people to find solutions, combined with my financial expertise as a CPA, will bring a much-needed skillset to City Council. And I have served on various Committees in other townships where I have resided.
While the most important endorsements come from residents, here is a list of officials that have endorsed me, due to the skillsets I will bring:
- The Clyde Hill Police Union
- Current City Councilmember Steve Friedman (our likely next Mayor)
- Current City Councilmember Kim Muromoto
- Chair of the Clyde Hill Civil Service Commission – Brian Ouellette
- The Mayor of Yarrow Point – Katy Harris
Please visit www.stevesinwell.com for more details on why I’m running and additional endorsements.
What is your plan to solve the budget crisis?
At the September 2023 Budget Advisory Committee meeting, our City Administration proposed raising property taxes to solve the deficit.
Before any increase in property taxes is considered, we need to invest substantial time in executing my “Three-Prong Plan”, as summarized below:
- Deep-Dive / Cost Analysis – rationalization of costs, consideration of shared-service models with nearby cities, and development of a zero-base budget. We do not compromise on safety.
- Revenue Optimization – Let’s optimize our license and permit revenue (a large revenue source) by updating our cost studies that support such fee determinations. And we will update these studies annually.
- Outside the Box Thinking – One idea (of several) is to successfully lobby Olympia to relax their rules on how cities can spend windfall-revenue collected from increased Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET). Currently, REET money cannot be used to fund operations, but when we are successful in changing the rule, this will be a big step to mitigate the deficit.
My plan will require extensive effort/expertise, and I commit to be very involved during the journey.
How would you handle conflicts of interest?
I have no conflicts of interest or any open matters with Clyde Hill. If one develops, I will be forthcoming and transparent to the public on all aspects of it. Lastly, I affirm that I will follow our existing guidance, pursuant to the Clyde Hill City Council Rules and Guidelines and State law.
The Guidelines state that Councilmembers “shall vote on all motions…unless an actual conflict of interest under state law, appearance of fairness or otherwise requires recusal… ”. The Guidelines provide additional guidance on abstaining from voting.
This excellent question could imply that Clyde Hill should adopt a more rigorous ethics code, which I would support. We can review our existing code and require updated expectations about conflicts (and ethics overall) which would add clarity and provide better assurance to residents. One suggestion is to consider adopting provisions from the Ethics Code required by the City of Kirkland, which is incremental to State law and requires their Mayor and Councilmembers to make annual disclosures.
If you could wave your hand and make one change to the city code, what would it be and why?
Before I get into specifics, the overarching change we need is to create clarity in the Code language and consistency in Code enforcement. The current language and lumpy enforcement of the Code has yielded countless hours/dollars of waste, disputes that linger, and unpleasant surprises experienced by residents.
To answer this question specifically, I’m going to wave a wand in each hand and update the Code relating to (1) Land Use and (2) Safety. On Land Use, most know the State has passed HB1110, which allows multi-dwellings to be built in Clyde Hill. I will propose levers to be inserted in our Code to minimize this new zoning impact to Clyde Hill. With respect to our Codes related to Safety, it has been numerous years since they have been refreshed, and doing so will help us all and the Clyde Hill Police, especially given new traffic patterns and various issues leaking over from Bellevue.
What is the top concern you’ve heard from residents?
That City Hall might not have the right people and right processes in place.
My biggest take-away when speaking to residents is the large number of their concerns and how long these concerns have existed. And it is difficult for residents to prioritize them as most are “mission critical”: financial deficit, more intense traffic related to Bellevue growth, concern about safety as Seattle problems are starting to be noticed on the Eastside, Land Use concerns since the State passed the new zoning mandates that allow duplexes, and stormwater matters.
In my view, what most residents seek is competence, commitment, and accountability. They want a City Council that has expertise, experience, and sufficient time to provide leadership and oversight to our City Administration.
Residents want their voice heard, not just during an election cycle, but all year long. And I plan to deliver on all these expectations, all of which are reasonable.
I appreciate the Clyde Hill Coalition asking these important questions and publishing our responses. And, thank-you Clyde Hill residents for your consideration! Steve Sinwell