October 22, 2013
2013 mayor candidates questions and answers
How will you address traffic problems, short term and long term?
Joe Forkner: Upgrading the current Intelligent Transportation System to the next generation real-time system would be short term and better public transportation long term.
Fred Butler: Take an integrated system approach to get maximum efficiency from our transportation and commute trip programs, upgrade ITS and apply Adaptive Transportation Management where appropriate.
How will regional representation improve if you are mayor?
Joe Forkner: As mayor, I would have time to spend meeting with regional representatives to discuss Issaquah’s position in the region.
Fred Butler: I will seek leadership opportunities in SCA and PSRC while expanding regional relationships that benefit Issaquah and the region.
If the city had an extra $1 million to spend, what should it be used for?
Joe Forkner: Use $1 million to investigate and fund a sustainable public transportation system.
Fred Butler: I would like to see greater investment in human and social sustainability and increased spending on street maintenance.
If budget cuts are needed, where would you suggest they be made?
Joe Forkner: I would like to evaluate the need for consultants and determine if the city has expertise through staff or volunteer citizen boards or commissions that reduce costs.
Fred Butler: I would review the status of budgeted projects and prioritize them to determine which could be deferred, suspended and which should continue.
If elected, what will be your top priority in your first year in office?
Joe Forkner: Evaluate services the city provides to citizens and customers, and determine ways to be more efficient and cost effective in providing those services.
Fred Butler: Achieve excellence in all we do and develop a means to measure how we are doing.
What two local issues, besides transportation, have the greatest urgency?
Joe Forkner: The issue of assumption of Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District inside the city and the infiltration gallery for Issaquah Highlands need to be re-evaluated.
Fred Butler: Drug use and economic development.
What changes would you make to the current administrative direction?
Joe Forkner: Establish a management plan that integrates HPO and gives staff greater flexibility to contribute to supporting customer service from a customer’s point of view.
Fred Butler: I believe the city is on the right track. I would like to see greater emphasis on financial sustainability.
What city staffing changes need to be addressed?
Joe Forkner: Review shared services and expanding this concept to allow city to address needs by shifting staff responsibilities short term to allow flexibility and cost savings.
Fred Butler: I’m not prepared to answer this question now, but I plan to review staffing with department heads during the first 90 days of my administration.
Given the retail boom in Issaquah, are there taxes that can be reduced?
Joe Forkner: Long-range fiscal planning and saving for such events could show good reason for not reducing taxes.
Fred Butler: I do not envision recommending any tax reductions during the first year of my administration.
How can Issaquah retain its community character amid future growth?
Joe Forkner: The city needs to balance future growth with Issaquah treasures, the wooded hillsides, quiet neighborhoods and the Olde Town charm of downtown.
Fred Butler: Focus growth in Central Issaquah in order to protect our historic downtown and forested hillsides.
How would you address the need for more affordable housing?
Joe Forkner: City works with A Regional Coalition of Housing to leverage local dollars with regional and development dollars to get the most for affordable housing dollar.
Fred Butler: Continue to be an active member of ARCH and consider adding an affordable housing requirement to the Central Issaquah Plan for new development.
How can the city address the growing drug problem?
Joe Forkner: The police and community working together to deal with the problem will make it difficult for the use and selling of drugs to continue.
Fred Butler: Convene a drug summit to have a community discussion that includes the city, ISD, resource agencies, law enforcement and the faith based community.
How would you represent the less fortunate in a largely affluent city?
Joe Forkner: Human Services Commission and community members have been working to provide a human services campus in Issaquah to help provide local services and raise awareness.
Fred Butler: Support hiring a Human & Social Sustainability Manager and increasing the per capita contribution for human services to $10. Support an Issaquah human service campus.
What is your plan to entice redevelopment to central Issaquah?
Joe Forkner: The Central Issaquah Plan was adopted with tools in place to provide incentives for development in the central core, and I will pursue others.
Fred Butler: Develop professional marketing material and a marketing plan, form a public private marketing team and aggressively promote Issaquah.
What’s the next step for Issaquah on the path to sustainability?
Joe Forkner: Continuing the administration’s programs and evaluating new programs that will allow us to attain our goals of greenhouse gas reduction should be our next step.
Fred Butler: Reduce the waste stream and adopt Green Building initiatives in older home renovations.
How much more green space and parks does Issaquah need?
Joe Forkner: Green space in an urban area is like an oasis in the desert, where you can find refuge from all the street activity.
Fred Butler: Compete the Green Necklace envisioned in the CIP and continue to acquire property along Issaquah Creek to connect Squak Valley to Lake Sammamish State Park.
How important is the takeover of district wells to provide water utilities?
Joe Forkner: The city’s membership and continued support of Cascade Water Alliance will provide for the future water needs of Issaquah regardless of district wells.
Fred Butler: I believe the assumption of the SPWSD within the boundaries of Issaquah as mandated by the GMA is appropriate.
Is it important for the city to annex Klahanie? Why or why not?
Joe Forkner: The city doesn’t need to annex Klahanie, but if annexed, the rest of the city should not feel a negative impact from the annexation.
Fred Butler: Klahanie is in our PAA, it makes financial sense and the BRB has ruled it is appropriate. We are a city of annexations.
If elected, how will you personally keep communication lines open with citizens?
Joe Forkner: The city has worked to rebuild its website and initiate social media notification about city events. I would continue to advertise and enhance these tools.
Fred Butler: I will be accessible, continue the monthly mayor’s breakfast and be visible in the community. I am considering some form of community focus groups.
What can you do to lead city government toward more transparency?
Joe Forkner: I can make myself more available to the community by attending more community functions and being available at events to discuss any subjects with citizens.
Fred Butler: I will be open, honest and ethical.
What is the primary difference on issues between you and your opponent?
Joe Forkner: My opponent wants more regional focus and I believe we need more local focus while continuing to build regional focus.
Fred Butler: I have proven leadership experience at all levels, broad and diverse support, and strong regional connections that benefit Issaquah.
2013 school board candidates questions and answers
As state funding increases, what percentage should go to teacher salaries? To programs? To class size reductions?
Lisa Callan: New revenue distribution should be determined by amount, state-imposed limitations, priorities identified by our community and staff, and the greatest educational benefit for students.
Alison Meryweather: The district will strategically invest the additional funding to support student academic achievement goals aligned with our community priorities; current staffing is 85% of budget.
What experience do you bring to the board that will make a difference to the school district?
Lisa Callan: A STEM business background, early childhood intervention programs, PTSA leadership, strong family background in public education, the only candidate/director with a child in elementary school.
Alison Meryweather: Advocacy and policy work at the state level collaborating with key education legislators to improve funding and educational outcomes. Strong relationships with local community partners.
Aside from funding, what should district officials be asking of state legislators?
Lisa Callan: Require the Legislature and OSPI to complete financial and program impact studies prior to implementing unfunded mandates. Mandates impact district resources, including teaching time.
Alison Meryweather: To carefully assess the impact of seemingly unrelated legislation to education that creates ‘unfunded mandates’ to school operations that drain funding away from the classroom.
What changes to vocational classes should the district consider?
Lisa Callan: Expand vocational training opportunities, specifically in STEM-related courses. This should include broader class offerings, partnerships with business and options for certification.
Alison Meryweather: The rebuild of Tiger Mtn. HS allows for expanding the current vocational offerings districtwide, encouraging early internship partnering with local businesses such as Swedish.
How important is all-day kindergarten for future educational success?
Lisa Callan: All-day kindergarten is very important for kids at risk. Pre-kindergarten access is also very important, providing an equal start for all kids.
Alison Meryweather: Research shows all-day kindergarten has a significant impact on the future learning success of children that have not had any preschool enrichment experiences.
What is the role of the school board in the district’s relationship with the teachers’ union?
Lisa Callan: The board’s role is to represent and ensure the community, parents, teachers, staff and kids all have a voice in mission, policy and means.
Alison Meryweather: The board’s role is to represent the values and voice of the whole community to district administrators; the board does not participate in contract negotiations.
What would you do to lower the district’s dropout rate, or is it low enough?
Lisa Callan: Seek early identification and provide additional options, pathways and counseling support to kids who are having trouble finding success in one of the traditional ways.
Alison Meryweather: 100% graduation rate is my goal; each at-risk student should be assigned a staff mentor that monitors their progress until they complete their requirements.
If only the M&O levy passes, how will the district make ends meet?
Lisa Callan: The district would make ends meet by greatly reducing technology elements, and potentially laying off teachers and raising class sizes.
Alison Meryweather: If the supplemental levies failed, capital projects, bus purchases and technology investments would be deferred; district reserves could be utilized to temporarily fund critical expenditures.
What changes do you propose to homework policies?
Lisa Callan: Encourage consistency throughout the district. Find ways to help and support teachers to get graded homework back to their students in a timely manner.
Alison Meryweather: No specific homework reform proposals; however there are areas that can be addressed via additional teacher professional development and contract negotiations emphasizing timely student feedback.
What ideas do you have for making Issaquah schools safer?
Lisa Callan: Ensure Issaquah uses current audit efforts to produce a comprehensive strategic plan for improvement, training and maintainability, as well as funding and an implementation plan.
Alison Meryweather: Safety is a priority, both physical and social emotional. The district is undergoing a comprehensive review of all procedures and will prioritize opportunities for improvement.
What else can the district do to help students pass standardized tests?
Lisa Callan: Provide the best teaching environment we can. This includes trained and prepared teachers, meaningful curricula and responsive support systems for students that require additional help.
Alison Meryweather: The greatest impact on student performance is the teacher, investing in our teachers with professional development, quality curriculum and training on new standards is vital.
What can the school board leadership do to improve our schools that is not being done now?
Lisa Callan: Ensure metrics being used to assess performance are looking at the right things, the right data is collected and the context is clear.
Alison Meryweather: The board should have more frequent contact and dialogue with the local employers to assess our educational alignment with meeting the needs of future skills.
What role does the school board have in the transition to Common Core standards?
Lisa Callan: Ensure that the Common Core mandate is being implemented effectively and efficiently, providing all the help and resources possible to our teachers and staff.
Alison Meryweather: Ensure the community is well informed, listen to concerns and that the district has appropriate resources to transition to the new standards and testing protocols.
What would you change about the bond and levy package?
Lisa Callan: I served on the levy committee. We invested a great deal of work balancing the right priorities and a stable tax base for taxpayers.
Alison Meryweather: The levy proposal was vetted by a diverse community group, reviewed by the superintendent and has board approval; the community supports the educational value propositions.
How much should student test scores be used in teacher evaluations?
Lisa Callan: Test scores are just one measurement of student growth. Teachers and students should be evaluated in a number of ways, not solely on test scores.
Alison Meryweather: Student testing scores are just one component of multiple measures used to evaluate teacher performance. The issue is complex and should be fair and accountable.
Should the process for changes to school boundaries be open to public input?
Lisa Callan: The process should be transparent, providing an opportunity for meaningful input from those involved. In district governance, transparency is in everyone’s best interest.
Alison Meryweather: Public input is always welcome and valued regarding any district issue; typically multiple school boundary changes convene a community advisory group to assist the district.
What is the top problem facing the district today (besides funding) and what will you do about it?
Lisa Callan: Several issues facing the district can be addressed by policy, including achievement gap, student social/emotional well-being and livable wage ready graduates.
Alison Meryweather: The social emotional health of our students; I have proposed a board committee of the community to address the data in the Healthy Youth Survey.