Old hands hope to offer city new leadership: Joe Forkner
October 8, 2013
By Peter Clark
Joe Forkner wants to talk things out.
As he moves stridently forward in what he admits is an “underdog” mayoral campaign, the multitasking commission, committee and City Council member hopes to translate some of his many experiences into responsible administration leadership.
He has worked in three governments and volunteered countless hours in citizen groups and spent seven years on the City Council. Forkner, 60, considers this variety of roles a strength.
“You get a perspective having been on both sides of the table,” Forkner said. “I’ve seen a lot of things in the past 20 years, and I think it’s time to get somebody to balance the future with the cost.”
More than anything, he expressed a desire to be involved in his community and to make a difference for the people around him. When he was first appointed to the council in 2000, he hoped to have an impact from that position, which unfortunately did not turn out as he had hoped.
“After six years on the council, I realized that I couldn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish as a policy maker,” he said.
Specifically, he wants to help lead Issaquah into its future of growth and bring its citizens closer to the government.
Acknowledging the ever-increasing problem of transportation, he provided a few solutions that he felt the city should explore.
“Issaquah needs something more efficient than the 200 bus to get people to where they need to go,” he said. “There are so many possibilities to address the traffic problem. I think the city should look at outside public and private partnerships. I think that’s a real viable alternative.”
He talked about a new system that could better adjust traffic light timing, and cooperation that could occur between retailers to shuttle shoppers to the Issaquah Highlands.
Transportation does not take up the whole of his platform. He spoke passionately about ways to address every aspect of Issaquah’s citizens and how to curb what he says is growing apathy.
“How does the citizenry even want to care?” he said, referring to quick administrative decision-making, which he thinks makes residents feel excluded. “We need to start timing these things so we can have a public process.”
About his opponent, Forkner reiterated differences that began to emerge at the Sept. 17 chamber of commerce candidate forum. Namely, Forkner believes he has a more local focus.
“Fred’s regional,” Forkner said of candidate City Council President Fred Butler. “He thinks there is a lot of top-heavy leadership that we can trust. I think we get a good reputation from the City Council. I think our employees represent us well.”
He said he sees the need for strong regional representation, but he said he didn’t want to lose Issaquah residents in the fight for credibility through the Puget Sound.
He did not pause when asked about strategies taken in the past year to defend Issaquah against perceived attacks from the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District. He said that an aggressive assumption plan and cybersquatting activities would have no place in a prospective Forkner administration.
“I’m a sit-down-and-talk-it-out kind of guy,” he said. “If we have a problem, let’s sit down, talk about it and just come up with a plan that will work.”
Forkner said his campaign has been extremely busy. With his campaign manager finding other work at the beginning of the cycle, he has had to undertake many duties himself. His campaign is constricted by a full-time job, at Encompass Engineering and Surveying, as well as a multitude of City Council demands. He said it’s worth it and he considers accountability of time and communication to be foremost in his approach to mayor.
“If there’s ever a situation where a citizen feels like they need to go to the council, then I did a bad job as mayor,” he said.