Friendly setting finds few feuds between mayoral candidates
October 22, 2013
By Peter Clark
Mayoral candidates City Council President Fred Butler and City Councilman Joe Forkner restated major themes in a largely agreeable forum Oct. 17.
In one-minute answers, both candidates stuck to their agendas, which remain fairly similar.
“When I retired form Seattle City Light as their chief engineer, I decided to devote myself to public service,” Butler said during his opening statements. “I believe in sustainability. All decisions need to take in the three legs of sustainability: people, planet and prosperity.”
Forkner took the insider’s approach, citing his years of work within city government and as a board volunteer.
“This allowed me to get a better understanding of what was going on in the city,” Forkner said. “I want to ensure citizens are receiving the best customer service as possible and make sure that government is effective and transparent.”
Issaquah Press Publisher Debbie Berto served as the moderator, offering questions written by The Press’ staff and collected from the public. While many topics where discussed, most revolved around Issaquah’s place in the future and in what direction the candidates would take the city.
Almost a year after the long-range Central Issaquah Plan was approved, the candidates gave thoughts on possible additions.
“I like that it lets us market downtown Issaquah as a place to live, work and play,” Forkner said. “I’d like to see us come up with a transportation system to allow people to get around the city without having to use their car. I think a local public transportation system would be ideal.”
Butler focused more on housing concerns.
“I like that the CIP concentrates growth where it makes sense,” he said. “I think we could have estimated targets for affordable housing and that’s one thing I would like to look for as we move forward in the future.”
They both were positive about the possibility of annexing Klahanie. Forkner said Issaquah could compete better in the region with the expanded population, while Butler said reserves of talent existed there that he would gladly welcome into the city.
They agreed on subjects such as traffic flow, the city’s hired lobbyist, parking issues, concerns about the budget and the importance of the city’s regional presence.
On the issue of the city’s cybersquatting on the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District’s website, both gave stern disapproval of the practice.
“I would like to think if I was the mayor, that fraudulent practice would not have happened,” Forkner said. “It seems like whoever is responsible is just keeping the feud going on.”
Butler said more training and discussion was needed.
“That was an embarrassing situation for this city, while you can sort of see what would lead to the city to react that way,” Butler said. “I think training, ethics and discussion are important so that the workforce will know those things are not to be tolerated.”
Disagreement arose on the issue of the city’s partnership with the state to research projects in the Lake Sammamish State Park.
When asked what the city hopes to get out of it, Forkner floated the notion that the city should take a more active role.
“I would think the city at some point should consider whether maybe the state isn’t being the best steward for the park and maybe we should take it over,” he said. “Kind of like we did with the salmon hatchery.”
Butler supported continued work with the state to improve the park.
“The park is an integral part of Issaquah and it’s a real gem whether it’s in the city or not,” Butler said. “We hope to convert that to more of an urban park. It is an amenity for our citizens and promotes the quality of life we hope to expect.”
The mayoral debate ended with each candidate expressing a mutual appreciation of each other for running a campaign free of negativity.
“Fred and I ran the kind of campaign that everyone would like to see everybody run,” Forkner said. “Makes sense to have this be nothing but a cordial election.”