August 14, 2012
Hired lobbyist could be good investment
We like the idea of the city of Issaquah hiring a lobbyist to represent its interests in Olympia to state lawmakers.
The lobbyist will be there primarily to bring money back to the city, going after local “earmarks,” a term generally associated with Washington, D.C., and Congress.
It doesn’t quite seem right to invest taxpayer dollars to go after a bigger pot of taxpayer dollars, but that’s the reality of today. Think of it as a donor development manager, a position paid for by many nonprofits. Most cities the size of Issaquah now use a paid lobbyist.
Should the investment in a lobbyist not pay for itself by this time next year, we hope council members will do an abrupt about-face.
But first the city must prioritize its hopes and dreams and communicate them well to its lobbyist.
Council members have said they want improvements to Lake Sammamish State Park and funds for transportation to be on the list.
The state park already has a multiphase redevelopment plan that was to have been nearly implemented by 2013, but has yet to see funding. Getting a new concession stand and bathhouse completed should be a priority, followed by relocation of the park’s shop to make room for RV camping. Both have strong economic development benefits for Issaquah.
The request for specific transportation projects should include landscaping of Issaquah’s unsightly Interstate 90 off-ramps, a responsibility of the state Department of Transportation. Another request should be for a pilot program to extend the free bus Route 200 to neighborhoods on Squak Mountain, in Talus and the Issaquah Highlands.
While a lobbyist can do the groundwork of speaking with legislators, the real push will still need to come from the City Council and city residents. It’s always harder to ignore the voters.