Elections

City Council members will see all the proposals Aug. 19 from search firms bidding to find Burien’s next city manager.

The lawmakers will also hear staff recommendations on who they should pick.

Mike Martin left the city manager position at the end of July to become Lynden’s city administrator. Lynden is a small town located near Bellingham. City Attorney Craig Knutson is filling in as interim city manager.

Even if current council members hire an executive search firm, it will be up to the new council that will be sworn in in January to select the new city manager.

Councilmember Rose Clark, who has helped select two city managers, said it might be in the spring, four or five months after the search firm is picked, before a new manager is hired.

Another veteran council member, Jack Block Jr., noted it took over a year before Martin was selected. Block said there is no rush because Knutson is a capable interim manager.

Councilmember Joan McGilton said current lawmakers “have a wealth of experience on who would be appropriate for Burien.” She added new council members wouldn’t have that knowledge.

08/08/2013

There could be at least three new Burien City Council members in January if Aug. 6 primary election results are a good indication.

In results as of Wednesday evening, Aug. 7, challenger Lauren Berkowitz was garnering a majority of the votes against Councilmember Jack Block Jr. and Kip Walton.

Former Burien mayor Joan McGilton was in a dead-heat with council critic Debi Wagner for McGilton’s council seat.

In the race for Mayor Brian Bennett’s council seat, newcomer Steve Armstrong had a healthy lead over planning commissioner Joey Martinez and Chuck Rangel. Rangel has also been very critical of the council majority. Bennett did not seek re-election.

In SeaTac, councilmember Rick Forschler had a small lead over challenger Kathryn Campbell. The third candidate, Othman Heibe was eliminated from the general election race.
Appointed councilmember Jeremy Nutting had a substantial lead over law-and-order candidate James Payne in Des Moines.

The top two vote getters in each race will continue on to the Nov. 5 general election.
For Block’s Burien council seat, Berkowitz received 51 percent, 2,541 votes; Block 42 percent, 2,101 votes; and Walton, 6 percent, 285 votes.

08/07/2013

This is election season in Burien, neighboring cities and King County. The candidates are hard at work notifying all of us of the upcoming election and why we need to elect them to office. We see their colorful signs along every street, seemingly, wherever they or their helpers can pound a stake in the ground.

As you would expect, the City has chosen to control all of this exuberance by declaring what is and is not acceptable.
According to the Burien Municipal Code (BMC) Chapter 19.30, these signs may be placed on “private property” or public “right-of-way”, subject to a few exceptions. You had better get the Owners permission before adding signs to Private property. The signs are also prohibited from utility poles, lampposts, traffic signals or signs, and public property other than public right-of-way. Like any other sign in the city, they must not obstruct the traveling public or create unsafe conditions.

Considering the time and expense the candidates have put forth installing their signs, I'm sure they would like to be informed of any that have been improperly placed, so they can take corrective action.

08/01/2013

Apparently Mr. Axtell believes that roads can be paved without the money to pave them.

First, while it’s true that utility rates have gone up over the years, the taxes on those
utilities are not used to pay for road maintenance. They are used to pay for general city
services, such as police, parks, and planning/building services.

Second, it would not be “impossible” for the city to handle an increase in funding for
paving. The money goes to the companies winning the contract to actually do the work.
For years the city has managed paving projects. There would be no problem in
managing that work, and the city would not need to hire more employees.

Third, utilities pass along the utility taxes to their customers. Everybody knows that; it’s
just normal procedure. There’s no negotiation, they just do it.

Fourth, the city is audited on an annual basis by the Washington State Auditor’s office.
As part of their annual audit, they will determine whether the utility funds designated for
road maintenance are used for that purpose and only that purpose. We have good, solid

07/31/2013

The City of Des Moines has placed on the August 6 Primary Election ballot a scheme to collect, according to the City, "approximately $1,100,000 per year for City street pavement improvements". Called Proposition 1, the scheme is to "increase the the utility occupation tax from 6% to 8% for a period of twenty (20) years". If approved, the 2.0% increase would be specifically dedicated to provide funding for city street pavement improvements.".

The Proposition suffers from several serious flaws and should be rejected by the voters. Here's why.

First, the City collects a tax from all utilities that provide services to Des Moines, such as cable, sewer, water, and all other such businesses that are contracted with the City. Not one of those services has ever been known to reduce it's customer rates over the years, instead, their rates always increase. So when the City taxes are added to your utility bills as a percentage, the City's take also always increases. The $1.1 million for next year will increase with time, becoming $1.5 million at an inflation rate of 2% for 20 years. Our streets could be paved with gold.

07/19/2013
County adds more ballot drop-off locations

Press release:

Ballots and voters’ pamphlets for the Aug. 6 primary election will arrive in mailboxes throughout King County this week.

King County Elections will mail nearly 1.2 million ballots on July 17. Voters’ pamphlets are mailed separately by bulk mail and may arrive on a different day than ballots.

“Voters should watch for their ballot in the mail and contact us if they haven’t received it by Wednesday, July 24,” said Sherril Huff, Elections Director.

The county already sent more than 17,400 ballots to voters living overseas and those serving in the military to allow extra time for delivery.

“Ballot drop locations have been expanded to provide more options for voters to return their ballots,” Huff said. “Voters can return ballots to any of 25 locations, including our three Accessible Voting Centers.”

There is a ballot drop box in Burien on Southwest 152nd St. in front of City Hall/Library, 400 S.W. 152nd St.

The expanded locations now include 12 scheduled drop vans for the primary and general elections (up from three last year) to provide better service for voters.

07/17/2013

It takes a whole community to make a wonderful and memorable Fourth of July Parade.

I want to especially thank Ashley Fosberg, executive director of the Highline Schools Foundation, for helping out the three young women who rode in the parade car for the Fourth of July event. The Highline Schools Foundation, Project PROMise loaned the young women dresses so that they could participate in this event and be elegantly dressed. It gave them the opportunity to be beautiful and glamorous looking for the event.

The Project PROMise program gets its funding and dresses from citizens. In the foundation’s own words, “Highline Schools Foundation (Project PROMise) collects beautiful new and gently worn formal dresses and gowns, shoes, and accessories from throughout our community and invites high school students in need to ‘go shopping’ for the perfect dress for their prom. The dresses are offered to the girls to keep, or they may return them to the foundation to be used the following year.

07/08/2013
County Elections officially validates signatures for SeaTac initiative

The SeaTac City Council will take action on the jobs initiative on July 23.

The action will take place at the council's regular meeting, beginning at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 4800 S. 188th St.

The public will be allowed to make comments at the start of the meeting. Because King County Elections has certified that the initiative petition received enough signatures, the council must place the measure on the November ballot or adopt it outright.

The council will also discuss the initiative at its study session July 9 at 4 p.m. The session at City Hall is open to the public. Public comment will be limited to a total of 10 minutes.

Here is our previous coverage:

Press release:

It's official: King County Elections has now certified that the SeaTac Jobs Initiative has met the required signature threshold, and after a public hearing by the SeaTac City Council next month, the initiative will head to the November ballot.

The initiative would set workforce standards for more than 6,000 low wage transportation and hospitality workers in SeaTac, including paid sick leave, a wage of $15/hour, and opportunities for full-time employment.

06/26/2013

It’s official.

Burien City Manager Mike Martin submitted his resignation on Thursday, June 20. His last day on the job will be July 24.

He will become the city administrator in Lynden, reporting to an elected mayor. It is the same type of position he held in Kent before coming to Burien.

In Burien, Martin is chief executive of the city. He is overseen by an elected city council, which selects one of its members to serve as mayor. Burien Mayor Brian Bennett presides at council meetings and represents the city at ceremonial occasions.

While Burien’s population of 45,000 is considerably larger than Lynden’s 12,000 residents, Martin will supervise about the same number of employees.

Also, Lynden’s annual budget is larger than Burien’s. Lynden’s yearly budget is $55 million while Burien’s two-year budget is $72 million.

Martin says he has some suggestions to Burien lawmakers on the transition process, which he will present at the July 1 council meeting. The council is expected to appoint an interim city manager and wait until a new council is sworn in this January before making a permanent choice.

06/21/2013

When one candidate running for a City Council position recently contacted the City of Burien about political booths for the Strawberry Festival, that candidate was told that no political campaigning promoting individuals, an issue or party was allowed from booths at the event. This was the city's policy. The only thing that political groups or individuals could do from the booths was to provide general information to educate the public on things like where to vote or how to register to vote.

However, Joey Martinez, the 33rd Dems, the 34th Dems and two potential Port Commissioners violated the city rules for the festival and directly distributed campaign materials for a specific candidate. None of these booths were registering voters or explaining rules for voting. City staff were at the festival and could easily have stopped this material from being handed out or closed the renter's booth down. They did nothing.