WATERLAND BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with Council Pos. #3 Candidates


On July 6, 2017, we emailed out a list of 10 Questions to all candidates running for Des Moines City Council in the Primary election, which has an Aug. 1 voting deadline.

We will be posting additional responses from candidates who answered our inquiry, grouped by position numbers.

Of the two candidates running for Position #3, both responded, and here are their answers – published exactly as they sent them – and listed in alphabetical order:

JC HARRIS

1. How long have you lived in Des Moines and why did you decide to live here?
I bought a home in Des Moines in 2005. At the time I was already a member of St. Philomena and had been sailing and fishing in the area for ten years. I was always impressed by the many well-kept gardens near Marine View Drive—a hobby I also enjoy very much. So when I started my search for a house, that’s where I started looking.

2. What are your primary reasons for seeking election to the Des Moines City Council?
I would like to help the city to refocus much more on the Downtown and improving the quality of life for the new generation of families moving into the area.

3. What do you expect to gain personally from serving in a Council position?
It would make me feel great to be able to make a positive difference for the future of Des Moines, a city that has given me so much.

4. How should Des Moines react to the Port of Seattle’s proposed large and rapid expansion to Sea-Tac Airport and the increased noise and air pollution some say it will produce over the city?
We should actively oppose Port expansion. The amount of noise and pollution is already far too high.

5. Do you consider the Marina seawall repair or replacement as a major financial problem facing the city and if not, what is the city’s biggest financial problem?
I would characterize the seawall an essential investment in our future. The Marina is our great gift and as we are the stewards of this place it is our obligation to properly care for it. Our biggest financial ‘problem’ over time will be the airport. Left unchecked, the airport will have a negative impact on everything in Des Moines. Therefore we must find a way to manage and if possible, reverse its effects to our people, property and business. That too is our duty as stewards.

6. Do you believe paid Marina parking is the best way to finance the huge cost of the repair or replacement of the rapidly deteriorating seawall?
It may be necessary—but only in the short term. Paid parking should not be made a permanent feature of the Marina.

7. What are your views on further development for downtown Des Moines, the Marina, and the city’s partnership with the Port of Seattle at the Des Moines Creek Business Park?
Making the Downtown a destination for visitors and families should be the top priority of the city. We should create a committee comprised of urban planning professionals, knowledgeable citizens and business leaders to come up with a long-term vision that will make Downtown Des Moines a compelling destination for generations to come.
The Marina needs to be properly maintained as it is Des Moines. It is the magnet that has always, and will always, draw people to this place.

While I acknowledge the short term financial incentives, I am somewhat skeptical of the long term benefits of the Des Moines Creek Business Park. Frankly, the challenges the airport now pose to our community, in terms of health, noise and dollars make such partnerships very hard to justify.

8. Do you believe the Des Moines Police Department is doing a good job controlling crime in the city and, if not, what proposals for change would you recommend the Council adopt?
In general, yes. However the city should also enact code enforcement ordinances similar to other communities so that properties are kept up better. We have had too many unkempt areas, nuisance issues and related crimes. Also, the city can invest in low cost Parks and Recreation programs which have been shown to significantly reduce crime without requiring more officers.

9. How would you propose Des Moines control increased card room gambling and marijuana sales along Pacific Highway South?
I am not in favor of further expansion of either of these types of businesses in Des Moines and we should exercise our zoning authority to limit these as much as is practical. I am open to exploring the creation of a city tax on the sale of marijuana.

10. What is your view of the way the city now budgets and spends its money and where would you cut or increase spending?
Budgets are tight, so we need to focus on what provides the best value for money. I would like to improve the city’s information management systems; the web site, newsletters, TV and communications. Government should always try to be transparent, accessible and accountable. Often the city has not scored well as to how it informs the public about upcoming events. Often it can be difficult to interact with the city. And often it is difficult to find information in various archives. If we improve in these areas, it opens up government to much greater participation.

We also need to invest a little more in Parks and Recreation. Des Moines has a growing number of families and children and their importance to our future should be reflected in our city’s budget.

VIC PENINGTON

1. How long have you lived in Des Moines and why did you decide to live here?
I have lived in Des Moines Fifty (50) years; I came here with my parents as a child, as an adult I went to work at the local fire department and decided to live, work and raise my family in Des Moines. We have an incredible jewel of a city with great sense of community.

2. What are your primary reasons for seeking election to the Des Moines City Council?
This council has been through a lot during the last four years. The direction of the city has changed from rapidly moving toward bankruptcy to a stable and sustainable city. This took the establishment of partnerships, community group engagement along with hard work and focus. I used my skillsets developed serving as a Water District Commissioner and through my 43 years as a Firefighter and Assistant Fire Chief; working with other council members and city administration we have created the foundation for a long-term viability and city independence while maintaining the positive and livable waterfront community we all value.

This level of work must continue, I’m running for a second term to continue the vitally important work of bringing our city back to sustainable and long-term health. Building now so future councils, city leaders and citizens will not be in the same difficult situation.

As we continue our mission I will focus on updating ordinances and zoning while evaluating opportunities that will create both a sustainable future and reduce the financial weight on the city’s residents. To do this effectively we’ve had and will continue to have many conversations with the community, local businesses, property owners, real estate brokers, government representatives, continuing to listen and learn. The result is updated zoning and building codes making it easier and more cost effective for businesses, property owners and citizens to maintain and update their investments.

3. What do you expect to gain personally from serving in a Council position?
I have lived in Des Moines Fifty (50) years; I have raised my family in this wonderful city. By being reelected to City Council gives me the opportunity to continue to contribute to the well-being and health of this City, to work to enhance quality of life for all our residents. This level of work must continue, I’m running for a second term to continue the vitally important work of bringing our city back to sustainable and long-term health. It gives me a chance to give back to our community and to assure that future councils, city leaders and citizens will not be in the same difficult situation that I inherited in 2013; and that future generations have the opportunities and positive experiences in Des Moines that I have been so fortunate to receive growing up and living here.

4. How should Des Moines react to the Port of Seattle’s proposed large and rapid expansion to Sea- Tac Airport and the increased noise and air pollution some say it will produce over the city?
I voted for the City to move forward to create an Aviation Advisory Committee. We have worked actively to defend our City from the adverse impacts of Sea-Tac airport expansion. I was working and living in the in Des Moines during the Third Runway fight; I now am in a role that can influence and fight for the Port of Seattle to address the noise, frequency of flights and health impacts they are now creating with their proposed expansion. I am proud to have been able to help facilitate a meeting between “Quiet Skies Des Moines” and City of Des Moines leadership. This was a very productive meeting that opened communication and provided guidance as to roles of Quiet Skies Des Moines and city leadership.

5. Do you consider the Marina seawall repair or replacement as a major financial problem facing the city and if not, what is the city’s biggest financial problem?
The utmost financial challenge that Des Moines is facing is continued financial sustainable assuring the continued existence of the City of Des Moines. The Marina seawall repair is a serious financial challenge that must be addressed sooner than later, we have taken several important actions to address the failing seawall. These steps include the implementation of paid parking; requesting financial support from the State Legislature, researching federal port security grants.
The Redondo Boardwalk was destroyed during a violent storm. As a council, we faced a $4 million plus repair and replacement cost. Members of the city staff and council leadership reached out to our county, state and federal partners to find funding for the repair and replacement of the Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk was repaired at a cost of over $4 million our city residents only paid about 10% of the cost. We are seeking that kind of multi-jurisdictional support to repair and replace the marina’s north seawall.

6. Do you believe paid Marina parking is the best way to finance the huge cost of the repair or replacement of the rapidly deteriorating seawall?
Paid parking in the Marina provides four very distinct benefits.

  1. Paid parking helps to provide the financial resource needed to repair the north seawall.
  2. Paid parking is a cost recovery tool; approximately 80% of the marina visitors live outside of our city, while the marina is a regional destination, the users that most enjoy the marina do not help pay for the ongoing cost of maintaining the facilities they use.
  3. Paid parking is a work force multiplier assisting law enforcement by prevent illegal and nuisance activities in the Marina North parking lot that have been occurring primarily at night. Reducing calls for service at the Marina allow our police patrol units to focus in other areas of the city providing greater police visibility in our neighborhoods.
  4. The North Marina area is a critical logistical and operational staging area for emergency management services. It provides a landing area for helicopters, as well as critical land and water access during a local or regional major emergency event.

7. What are your views on further development for downtown Des Moines, the Marina, and the city’s partnership with the Port of Seattle at the Des Moines Creek Business Park?
The value that is received from a partnership with the Port of Seattle is a win on several levels. This is an excellence three-way public/private partnership between the City of Des Moines, Port of Seattle and private developers of the Des Moines Creak Business Park. The Des Moines Creek Business Park will provide the demand to enhance the quality of our downtown, offer the economic engine to develop the Marina and provide tax revenues to support community quality of life services as well as other community desired and expected services.

8. Do you believe the Des Moines Police Department is doing a good job controlling crime in the city and, if not, what proposals for change would you recommend the Council adopt?
I am proud to work with the members of the Des Moines Police Department; I am the only city council member that works as a Professional Fire Fighter / Assistant Fire Chief in the streets of Des Moines and South King County. I bring a prospective of public safety awareness that I have been able to share with other members of the council providing them with a better firsthand understanding of the needs of the police department. I have directly found, influenced and fought for Public Safety Funding that brings our patrol teams back to full strength, filling detective positions, created a new detective position that is assigned to the regional Violent Crimes Task Force, created an Assistant Police Chief in charge of Operation allowing the Police Chief to focus on other critical needs. Working with city and police leadership to creating a Pacific Ridge Plan to address crime not only in that neighborhood but throughout all neighborhoods in the city. Our Police Department has always been and continues to be incredibly competent, the future focus should be on most efficient allocation of resources.

9. How would you propose Des Moines control increased card room gambling and marijuana sales along Pacific Highway South?
The current marijuana and gambling locations have been very responsible, complying with local and state laws, not creating any policing issues. The city council and city staff carefully considers any zoning and land uses that do or could provide for these types of activities.

10. What is your view of the way the city now budgets and spends its money and where would you cut or increase spending?
The goal must be long term and ongoing sustainability. Council leadership working with the City administration have reorganized functions in the city to maximize efficiency and reduce redundancies. We have increased revenues, safety and the long term financial sustainability by utilizing the following revenue streams; Red light photo enforcement (hiring police officers and creating safe route/ sidewalks to schools), Utility franchise fees (reinvesting in our in roads and other infrastructure), Marina paid parking (reinvesting in the marina and reducing illegal actives in the marina and beach park). The Business Park has brought in $600,000 of Real Estate Excise tax to date, that money can be used for primarily capital projects.

We have now met the Washington State Auditor’s Office for the appropriate reserve revenue amounts required for this city, for the first time in over 10 years we have created passed a budget with no one time moneys use to fill budget short fall; as was the practice of the past.

We still need to be very diligent relative to spending as we move forward, providing the community with desired and expected services. We must ensure there is not wasteful spending and that our new revenues become stable and consistent.


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