City Council candidates TJ Filley, Joshua Schaer answer questions

October 18, 2011

By Staff

Before returning ballots to meet the Nov. 8 deadline, review where Issaquah City Council and Issaquah School Board candidates stand on important issues.

Council candidates Joshua Schaer and TJ Filley answered questions about numerous issues facing Issaquah in the years ahead. (Answers had to be 25 words or less.) Schaer is seeking another term on the seven-member council. Filley is focusing on transportation issues in the campaign.

See the candidates’ responses: City Council Position 4

Find more responses from Filley and Schaer below:

TJ Filley

TJ Filley 

 

How will you communicate with your constituents to help engage them in the decision-making process?

I plan on creating a webpage in a blog format for constituents to voice opinions on current issues.

 

What is the No. 1 problem facing Issaquah that you can influence through your experience?

Understanding how to manage the portfolio of projects to maximize taxpayer return on investment.

 

What should be the single most important accomplishment of the City Council in the next four years?

Developing a plan for understanding what job growth will be necessary based on economic data/turning that into a plan for how to develop the city.

 

What council decision made in the last four years would you change because you disagree with it? Why?

The bicycle and pedestrian overpass would not have been approved until it was determined to be one of the top 10 priority projects in transportation.

 

What influences your decision-making process: What your constituents want? Or, what you know?

Evaluate problems, get expertise from multiple sources, research if others have tried to solve the problem, then use that to formulate the best possible solution.

 

In 2009, city leaders reduced spending, laid off employees and encouraged others to retire early as a way to cut spending. Name at least two areas you could support cutting from the city budget, if needed. 

I would implement zero-based budgeting, and performance budgeting methodologies to try to ensure that the taxpayer resources are being maximized.

 

Is there a specific city staff position you would cut if needed? Why?

I do not believe Issaquah should hire a lobbyist, and I would cut the position if created.

 

Should the council raise the property tax rate to increase revenue or allow it to remain as-is until the economy improves? Why?

Property taxes should not be raised. Families are struggling trying to make house payments on property where they owe more than the property is worth.

 

What incentives can the city enact to persuade businesses to come to Issaquah and encourage existing businesses to stay and grow?

Issaquah needs to determine how many jobs it wants to have in different sectors, and look at percentages of established companies versus startups.

 

What specific economic development plan, other than tourism, should the city pursue in the near future?

See above.

 

How can city leaders best work alongside landowners and residents to implement the Central Issaquah Plan?

The CIP is important in that developers need to have clear, consistent regulations regarding development where they can accurately predict costs and schedules.

 

What concerns do you have about implementing the Central Issaquah Plan?

The CIP should have how many people Issaquah will have at future points, and number/type of jobs needed to support our economic statistical area.

 

What is the single most urgent infrastructure need facing Issaquah?

Congestion relief, especially south of Interstate 90. Front Street is a joke at rush hour, and Newport Way is in dire need of improvements.

 

What solution do you propose for the future of aging Julius Boehm Pool?

With private health clubs now featuring pools, the need for a public pool should be looked at from a fiscal responsibility and liability standpoint.

 

Should public funds be used to create more parking spaces or a parking structure for the historic downtown area? Why?

I would look at Issaquah investing in a public parking facility, as well as investigating whether private companies would want to develop parking.

 

City leaders reached a major milestone last year by preserving the Park Pointe property. What, specifically, should be the city’s next conservation priorities?

We need Issaquah to be good stewards of taxpayer money, ensuring projects done are high-priority and accomplish cost-effective goals, and our tax base is stable.

 

What role should the city play in creating a viable plan for the future of Lake Sammamish State Park?

Possibilities and Issaquah potentially acquiring it include discussions of limited commercial licenses to offset maintenance, to a development with a public marina and commercial development.

 

How can the city best address the medical, safety and social concerns surrounding medical marijuana operations?

The state has authorized medical marijuana cooperatives unless denied by a municipality, and there is no compelling reason for one to be located within Issaquah.

 

Should the city pursue annexing Klahanie and the surrounding neighborhoods? Why?

I have not researched this yet and as such I have no opinion.

 

Is a city-funded lobbyist for Issaquah a reasonable use of public dollars? What should the city expect in return?

A city-funded lobbyist is not a reasonable use of taxpayer dollars. Even if federal and state funds were not drying up it wouldn’t be prudent.

 

Joshua Schaer

Joshua Schaer

 

How will you communicate with your constituents to help engage them in the decision-making process?

I support holding committee and budget meetings in more convenient locations. I also visit neighborhoods to directly receive feedback from residents about important issues.

 

What is the No. 1 problem facing Issaquah that you can influence through your experience?

Between 2000-10, Issaquah’s population grew 142 percent. I’m a council leader on sustainable development, infrastructure improvements and maintaining the city’s character — while managing growth.

 

What should be the single most important accomplishment of the City Council in the next four years?

The establishment of standards and prioritization methods to reduce government inefficiencies across all departments; this will produce high-quality service levels at lower costs.

 

What council decision made in the last four years would you change because you disagree with it? Why?

I’ve disagreed with decisions that aren’t right for Issaquah — for example, my colleagues shouldn’t have wasted resources designing roundabouts that data revealed as currently unnecessary.

 

What influences your decision-making process: What your constituents want? Or, what you know?

I serve the community, but sometimes become faced with conflicting interests. Then, I diligently research an issue and vote based on the best information available.

 

In 2009, city leaders reduced spending, laid off employees and encouraged others to retire early as a way to cut spending. Name at least two areas you could support cutting from the city budget, if needed.

We need to reduce our rising benefit costs — they are unsustainable. We should also reduce our reliance on consultants for projects city staff can handle.

 

Is there a specific city staff position you would cut if needed? Why?

With Joe Menghini’s retirement, we shouldn’t replace the deputy administrator position.  For Issaquah’s size, with a mayor and administrator, the work can be delegated elsewhere.

 

Should the council raise the property tax rate to increase revenue or allow it to remain as-is until the economy improves? Why? 

The council hasn’t raised property taxes during my term. We’ll assess the possible economic benefits or harms when determining whether to continue this yearly trend.

 

What incentives can the city enact to persuade businesses to come to Issaquah and encourage existing businesses to stay and grow?

We must incentivize the “right kind” of businesses, which match the community’s character, including permit process improvements, impact fee reductions and rewards for “green” development.

 

What specific economic development plan, other than tourism, should the city pursue in the near future?

A new commission and council direction will help add employment centers that match existing core industries (e.g. medical, outdoor retail) and promote a healthy lifestyle.

 

How can city leaders best work alongside landowners and residents to implement the Central Issaquah Plan? 

The challenge of transforming current development into a shared vision requires listening to needs, studying market trends and creating consistent policies.

 

What concerns do you have about implementing the Central Issaquah Plan?

The steps needed to add density, new roads and affordable housing — plus managing stormwater. You can’t just force changes to occur without innovative solutions.

 

What is the single most urgent infrastructure need facing Issaquah?

A multimodal crossing over Interstate 90 would relieve congestion, provide a future rail hub and enhance connectivity. Discussions must start before redevelopment increases the difficulty.

 

What solution do you propose for the future of aging Julius Boehm Pool?

All options should be considered, including a bond measure, public-private partnership and regional participation. We need a safe, cost-effective facility that serves local families.

 

Should public funds be used to create more parking spaces or a parking structure for the historic downtown area? Why?

At my recommendation, the top city goal for 2012 involves studying this issue. Improving parking options downtown will reduce circulating traffic and benefit businesses.

 

City leaders reached a major milestone last year by preserving the Park Pointe property. What, specifically, should be the city’s next conservation priorities?

Protecting our greenery and waterways. I’m disappointed by recent highlands clear-cutting, and dissolving our Stream Team. We must uphold being a Tree City USA.

 

What role should the city play in creating a viable plan for the future of Lake Sammamish State Park?

We should determine if assumption — and making it free again — is financially realistic. We must also improve ways to reach it by walking or biking.

 

How can the city best address the medical, safety and social concerns surrounding medical marijuana operations?

Our ordinance must protect the rights of qualified patients while safeguarding our children and preserving the integrity of our neighborhoods.

 

Should the city pursue annexing Klahanie and the surrounding neighborhoods? Why? 

Although I joined Issaquah through annexation, I don’t believe Klahanie is a sound long-term investment, given the cost of service expansion compared to tax-base benefits.

 

Is a city-funded lobbyist for Issaquah a reasonable use of public dollars? What should the city expect in return?

I don’t support this particular goal, as the mayor and council already exert influence regionally, and we can’t guarantee a return on such funding.

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