WATERLAND BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with Council Pos. #5 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 three candidates running for Position #5, all responded, and here are their answers – published exactly as they sent them – and listed in alphabetical order:

TRACI BUXTON

1. How long have you lived in Des Moines and why did you decide to live here?
I have lived in Des Moines for 35 years.  I moved here as a newlywed, taking a job with my husband as on-site managers for a 60-unit residential property.

2. What are your primary reasons for seeking election to the Des Moines City Council?
I hope to help create and maintain a:

  1. Green:  environmentally accountable,
  2. Safe:  working not only to fight crime, but support those who are coming out of a challenged life,
  3. Destination community; a place where millenials want to stay and raise their families and also a place that people from all over our region desire to visit.  I desire more than just economic responsibility – I am excited to see our business corridors (Pacific Highway and Marine View Drive) actually thrive with fine eateries, charming shops and creative artisans.

3. What do you expect to gain personally from serving in a Council position?
I expect to gain the satisfaction of participating in an incredible network of people while living in a community I am proud of – – and along the way, I hope to gain wisdom.  Outside of that, I expect to personally expend more than I gain.

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?

Des Moines should:

  • Continue to stand resolute in our expectation of mitigation for environmental impacts,
  • Continue to demand that expansion cease until mitigation is satisfactory, and
  • Continue to support research which will give firm direction for our efforts.

5. Do you consider the Marina seawall repair or replacement as a major financial problem facing the city and if not, what is?
Our Marina is our finest asset and we would do well to take care of it.  Should we lose it, we lose our ability to move forward with revitalization of our City.  If the Marina seawall is in danger, so is the health of our City on many levels.  So, yes, this is a major financial problem facing our City.

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?
The best way to finance the replacement would have been to save and plan ahead.  That was not made possible for several reasons.  Paid parking will work, and it will accomplish a few other issues at the same time, such as safety, both during the day and at night.  This will in turn, free our law enforcement team to attend to other areas of the City, helping to relieve many crime issues.

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?
Tongue-in-cheek, I like to say that I would love to create a parking problem in downtown Des Moines!  Evenings can produce a park-n-walk situation here and there, however, during the day I generally hope I don’t hit a tumbleweed 😉  We need daytime businesses, but we also need attractive places for them to put out their wares!

The advent of on-line shopping has brought many brick and mortar stores to their knees.  Downtown Des Moines will continue to struggle if we try to provide only what people need.  In order to become a destination, we need to provide an experience.  Our shops, artisans, restaurants, plazas and marina need to create a day’s worth of entertainment and accommodations for the whole family.  Visiting a destination town is not for fulfilling needs, but for creating memories.

Our partnership with the Port of  Seattle is only beginning with the Des Moines Creek Business Park.  The State of Washington has seen to it that it is the responsibility of all Ports to partner with their neighboring communities in economic stimulation, and the Port of Seattle is no exception.  The City of Des Moines will continue to expect not only mitigation from the Port for environmental impacts, but partnership in growing our local economy.

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 believe that not only are the police making huge strides in fighting crime, but they are working effectively as a team with other arms of the City in order to mitigate in high crime neighborhoods, through projects such as property clearing and holding negligent landlords accountable.

In addition, Chief Delgado and team have worked hard to connect with citizens through programs like Coffee with a Cop, Block Watch and also networking with private, residential cameras in order to apprehend offenders more effectively.

9. How would you propose Des Moines control increased card room gambling and marijuana sales along Pacific Highway South?
Currently, our two locations are lucrative sources of revenue, which is coming from upscale and/or clean and attractive venues.  However, if needed, there are zoning options that can sometimes be employed in order to limit questionable or undesirable activity near churches, schools and essential public facilities.

10. What is your view of the way the city now budgets and spends its money and where would you cut or increase spending?
Our City is just coming out on the other side of a major recession.  We are coming into the black with a sustainable budget for the first time in years.  This is an incredible accomplishment and I am proud of our current leadership.  Rather than cut spending, I think time spent in increasing revenue through stimulating a healthier economy would be the wisest way to a more robust budget.  In addition, rather than increase spending additional revenues, I would prefer to build reserves for a while in order to create a hedge against high cost capital improvements or repairs, such as the Marina seawall.

PATRICIO MENDOZA

1. How long have you lived in Des Moines and why did you decide to live here?
Patricio Mendoza is been living in Des Moines for over 25 years. I came to help out with my niece. It wasn’t long before I met my wife, Rachelle, and we knew that Des Moines was the place we wanted to live and raise our family.

2. What are your primary reasons for seeking election to the Des Moines City Council?
I believe that everyone on the City Council tries to do the best job that they can. Each member has a particular skill that allows them to provide a benefit for the community. I believe I have skills, with the cooperation of the other council members, to make the City more vital, financially sustainable, and create innovation to enable business success. I love this city and want to see it continue to grow and thrive. Business development and community safety are my top priorities.

3. What do you expect to gain personally from serving in a Council position?
I am not running for personal recognition, so I don’t even think about personal gain. I have been serving the community for the almost past three decades and I am in a position now that I believe will benefit the community even more if I am on the City Council.

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 believe that the first step is going in the right direction. The creation of a committee to work with Quiet Skies is a good start. We need to work more quickly. Things have been moving too slowly. I understand that today we have a good relationship with the Port of Seattle and especially with SeaTac Airport, but we also need to work toward a resolution, not just complain. The solution we need to work for will be found by maintaining the good relationships we have already built and making sure that the needs of the community are met by listening to their concerns.

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 believe the Marina Seawall needs to be replaced, but I don’t believe it is the biggest financial issue we face. That is the city’s inability to hire enough police officers to keep its citizens and visitors safe. I believe strongly that we need to make the citizens feel safe. We can fix the seawall or repair any street, but if we don’t feel safe, it makes no difference,

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?
I understand the Paid Parking is going to the overall financial budget so it is not financing repair or replacement of the Marina Seawall. Developing businesses at and around the Marina, the best asset we have in Des Moines, is a better way to finance it. In my opinion, paid parking is keeping people out when we should be working on ways to invite people in.

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?
I would like to see all the empty stores be developed. I would like to see Downtown and the Marina really be one connected to each other to make it easier for people to enjoy the shopping, dining, entertainment, and cultural offerings in Des Moines. As far as the partnership is concerned, I believe there is a fine line between that relation and I would like to get more information about the details of that agreement.

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 believe the Police are doing the best they can do with the resources we have. We can do better. We need to work with the surrounding communities; Federal Way, Burien, Normandy Park, Kent, Auburn, Tacoma, and Renton, to build a comprehensive plan to combat criminal activity in our region. Only through this regional cooperation will we begin to see real changes in community safety.

9. How would you propose Des Moines control increased card room gambling and marijuana sales along Pacific Highway South?
I think Des Moines has enough of each. There are certain distractions elements that are attracted to each of these types of businesses which put a strain on our already limited resources. To those who would say that these businesses bring in much needed tax revenue I say that I am not for sale and Des Moines is not for sale. I am not willing to sell the integrity and values of Des Moines to pad the budget.

10. What is your view of the way the city now budgets and spends its money and where would you cut or increase spending?
I believe the City Council is doing a good job with the budget because we have one. The economy has been getting better and the city benefits from that as well . I don’t believe in big government so I will have to look at that area, but I believe technology and security have to work together to make a safe community.

HARRY STEINMETZ

1. How long have you lived in Des Moines and why did you decide to live here?
I have lived in Des Moines for 18 years. When my wife and I found out she was pregnant, we begin looking for a house. I was working in Olympia and she was working on Queen Anne Hill, so Des Moines was a good halfway point in terms of our commutes.We liked being near the water and the marina. We were impressed that the city had one of the highest ratios of police in to population in the state and healthy parks and recreation program. After brunch at Salty’s one Sunday morning, we were driving around looking at houses. My brother, who was visiting from out of town, saw the sign for an open house, but it appeared to be too close to the water to be affordable, We discovered a big yard with an old house and put an offer in on it. Fortunately, the seller, who had raised her family there liked us and accepted our offer, with the caveat that we had to agree to host the neighborhood barbecue every summer as she had done. We have lived the ever since and have some to the greatest neighbors in the world. The previous owner attended the barbecue for the next 5 years.

2. What are your primary reasons for seeking election to the Des Moines City Council?
I am running for the Des Moines City Council to assure the development of the Downtown happens in conjunction with the development of the marina. We need a strong business district that provided a steady tax base for our city. Des Moines needs to become a more business friendly city and needs an active Chamber of Commerce. Secondly, we need to make sure the city budgets based on sustainable revenues and not on hopes for revenue or one-time funds. Additionally, we need to have better representation of neighborhoods on the council. I live in the south end to town and there is no one on the council that can pay attention to what is happening in Zenith, Woodmont or the Redondo neighborhoods. Lastly, I believe we need a more transparent and inclusive approach to governing the city. Not enough effort is made to reach out to the various communities in Des Moines to get their input into the issues that face the city. We need a better communication plan for the city and we need a more inclusive dialogue.

3. What do you expect to gain personally from serving in a Council position?
I hope to gain a sense of satisfaction that I did all I could to make our city a better place to live for everyone.

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?
Des Moines needs to work with the surrounding cities, King County and the State to mitigate the impact of the expansion of the airport. We need to encourage citizens groups like Quite Skies Puget Sound in include their expertise, research and organization into a supportive organization. In the long run, the biggest priority need to be the another airport, both for passenger and freight. In the short run, we need to limit the number of flights and the height of the planes to mitigate against the noise pollution.

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 city’s biggest financial problem is the long term fiscal health of the city. For the first time in recent memory, the council passed a budget based on sustainable revenue. Secondly, we need to develop a sustainable reserve fund to deal with large financial issue such as the needed repairs to the seawall. Depending on the urgency of repairing the seawall, plan A should be to pay of the repairs out of the ongoing revenues. Additionally, we should look at the emergency preparedness planning, to see if Des Moines as a back up to existing facilities, can access any federal or state funds to contribute to the needed repairs. Plan B would be to use the city’s bonding authority to pay for the repairs. The city currently has 2 bonds that will be retired in the next 5 years, so I believe we have the capacity, if needed.

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?
Since we have no idea, at this point, how much the Marina Parking will generate, it makes little sense to assume it alone can finance the cost to the repair to the seawall.

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?
I strongly believe the downtown area should be developed in conjunction with Marina and not separately. If, as some have suggested, we build a large retail and restaurant development in the Marina, the incentives will not be there for boaters to leave the Marina and explore downtown. There needs to be a connection between downtown and the Marina that will work for both.
The City’s partnership with the Port is a good deal for the City in terms of developing new revenue streams. Not much has been said about what the Port is getting out of this partnership and the City should be more transparent about the implications.

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?
Given the resources they have had to work with, the Des Moines Police Department has been doing a good job. The problem is that we need more police to deal with the issues we are facing and we are told dependent on neighboring cities for back up and larger police actions.

9. How would you propose Des Moines control increased card room gambling and marijuana sales along Pacific Highway South?
The city has enormous controls over the location of marijuana sales. The current marijuana shop has been run with such a high level of security that the immediate area around it has seen a significant decrease in crime. This is a good model to follow. Card room are a slightly different story. However, the City can use it’s taxing authority to limit the market for card rooms and its zoning laws to control their location.

10. What is your view of the way the city now budgets and spends its money and where would you cut or increase spending?
After many years, the City finally passed a budget based on sustainable revenue. As a council member, I will insist that we continue this process. One year is not enough. The City has also just switched to a new way of presenting the budget that seems much more clear and easier to follow. The City has a number of financial issue that will need to be addressed over the coming years. The priority needs to be public safety and quality of life issues for all citizens of our city.


Comments

9 Responses to “WATERLAND BLOG VOTERS’ GUIDE: Q&As with Council Pos. #5 Candidates”
  1. Pat Nardo says:

    All three candidates seem to have great aspirations here, We have already cast our vote and total support to Traci Buxton. What is very likeable here is that our Waterland Blog coming to the fore and doing what would normally be accomplished by a local newspaper, which we do not have. So my “like” here goes to our friend to the community, Scott Schaeffer. Thank you, Scott, for unbiased reporting.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

  2. Tad Doviak says:

    I really wish that all three of these candidates could be on the City Council. They all have the best interests of the city at heart and really want to help out. That being said, what the City Council really needs is someone who understands the needs of businesses in the city. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard how difficult it is to navigate the labyrinth of regulations to get anything done. The only candidate for any position up for election in Des Moines who has run a successful business in Des Moines for the past three decades is Patricio Mendoza. He has the experience to help other businesses grow, the connections to bring more business in to help reduce the number of empty store fronts, and the background in community service to back it all up.

    Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

    • Traci Buxton says:

      Hi Tad and Mysty!

      I wanted to respond to your concerns about a business person in the position of #5 in Des Moines.

      I have a broad base of successful business experience, all acquired while living here in this community, which includes:

      Property Management: Not only have I helped manage a 60 unit residential property for 22 years, but processed 21 properties for a cash-poor estate during one of the worst real-estate eras of the last century (2008-2011) – and didn’t lose one parcel to foreclosure! In addition, we have flipped and/or managed 27 properties of our own and been debt-free twice.

      Office Administration/Management: I have performed as an office manager for a cumulative 5 years for others and have operated our own businesses for 35 years. I successfully oversaw an insurance agency through a legal battle and turnover in the late 80s and also facilitated the conversion of a private practice mental health facility from private to State-Licensed in the early 90s.

      Real-Estate Investment: We have purchased 27 properties over the last 35 years which have included residential, commercial and multi-family locations, and have never lost on an investment – even in 2007. We currently own the largest piece of undeveloped residential land in the city – and that is next door to our residential home on acreage.

      Insurance: I started as an admin assistant and acquired my broker’s license while my firm moved through a few organizations and barely survived a legal battle before being purchased by Mason McDuffie. I was the only employee retained during the entire transition, trusting the entire book of business to my capabilities during an office move and re-hiring process.

      Fitness: Obtaining my state license as a fitness instructor was every bit as difficult as passing a college anatomy/physiology course with an “A” – while running a few miles a day and acquiring a business license in order to operate independently.

      Mental Health Professional: While operating as a licensed Mental Health professional does not necessarily add to my business experience, the fact that I acquired my degree at 30 and never received a “B,” in college indicates my level of commitment once I set my mind to something.

      On-line Sales: The advent of eBay was irresistible to us as we entered the fun of mom-and-pop liquidation and storage locker auctions! But what was impressive from a business standpoint is my ability to manage the business so that it brought in a healthy family income AND retained a coveted (and especially difficult in those days) 100% feedback rating – which I retain to this day.

      Hospitality Industry: My commitment to provide excellent service has continued as we opened our little BnB. I have a 5-star rating as well as status as a Superhost with Airbnb.

      Contracting: Currently, I am a licensed and bonded contractor and work as the landscaper/finish carpenter/painter in our partnership as we flip houses. We have been extremely successful in the last few years, but not just because of the current real-estate market. This current progress is simply an extension of what we have been doing well for 35 years.

      I hope this helps when it comes to considering my ability to bring business experience to the table, and especially my real-estate expertise since the seat I am seeking is being vacated by a property management guru! 😉

      Thank you for allowing me the space to respond and for taking the time to read!

      Sincerely,

      Traci Buxton

      Rate: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

      • Tad Doviak says:

        Traci, that is quite the impressive list of jobs/businesses that you have been involved in. I think what I’m trying to say is that Patricio is the only candidate to have owned and operated a business in Des Moines for an extended period of time. I did some searching at the Department of Revenue website (dor.wa.gov) and the only business license I found under your name was from 1989 and that business appears to have opened and closed on the same day. E C Computers was opened in 1992 and has been in operation for 25 years. It’s located right on Marine View Drive. While the many business ventures you have been involved in have surely given you a variety of business experiences, what I believe the city needs now is someone who understands the business needs of Des Moines businesses specifically. I don’t think anyone understands the needs of a Des Moines business owner better than Patricio Mendoza. That’s why I support him and marked my ballot for him.

        Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

        • Traci Buxton says:

          Tad, first of all, thank you for being the kind of person who does their homework! Not very many people will work that hard to establish facts and claims. Good job!

          I think if you will look up, Hammock Creek Enterprises, you will find quite a bit of information. Currently, I am the licensed and bonded contractor for our partnership. Hammock Creek is now an LLC, whereas before it was simply a sole proprietorship under my husband’s name.

          If access is available, you will also find records with regard to our on-line business under the same name.

          I think the business you were referring to was probably Charisma for Life and my fitness business license. I don’t know why the DOR indicates only a day, but they have had several difficulties in record keeping while transitioning their systems and changing our UBI numbers and I had difficulty in reporting taxes a handful of years back, simply because of this.

          I have had extensive experience in satisfactory customer service both in person and on-line. I understand your choice and thank you for the opportunity to clarify and defend my DOR history. 🙂

          Rate: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  3. Mysty Beal says:

    Nicely stated, Pat and Tad – both very good candidates who have contributed to Des Moines schools and community – we’ll be cancelling each other’s votes in my household, but look forward to supporting whoever comes through the primary. Thank you for running, Traci and Patricio, and your continued desire to serve Des Moines.

    Rate: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

    • Traci Buxton says:

      Hey Mysty!

      See my response to Tad . . .

      Thanks!

      Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      • Mysty Beal says:

        Yep, saw it – didn’t realize the breadth of experience you have…just know that all the area teens hang out with your kids or at your house and you engage them and are actually interested in their opinions. My mom used to do that. Gives me an additional reason to look up to you, and as everyone knows, you’ve raised some fine kids.

        Rate: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  4. Chris Clevish says:

    It’s a shame that we have three great candidates all running for the same position when council members have run unopposed in the past. Regardless of the outcome, I hope that they all run in the future as I think they have a lot to offer our community.

    Rate: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

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