Get to know the Newcastle City Council candidates

October 4, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Newcastle residents will see three City Council positions up for election on their Nov. 5 ballot, but only one race is contested.

Council candidates John Drescher and Mark Greene answered questions about numerous issues facing Newcastle in the years ahead. (Answers had to be 25 words or less.)

John Drescher

John Drescher

John Drescher

Age: 46

Years of residence in Newcastle: eight years, four months (since June, 2005)

Occupation: executive director, TechNet Northwest (since 2005)

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Dartmouth College (1989) with double major in history and German; Master of Arts in journalism (1992) from Northwestern’s Medill School

Political experience: Newcastle Planning Commission since April 2010; chairman since August 2012

Endorsements: Adam Smith, Congressman 9th District; Dave Reichert, Congressman 8th District; Rob McKenna, former Attorney General; Rodney Tom, state Senate Majority Leader; Steve Litzow, Senator 41st District; Burien mayor Brian Bennett; Newcastle Mayor Rich Crispo; Newcastle Deputy Mayor Lisa Jensen; Gordon Bisset, Newcastle City Council; Steve Buri, Newcastle City Council; John Dulcich, Newcastle City Council; Bill Erxleben, Newcastle City Council; Allen Dauterman, Newcastle Planning Commission, vice chairman; Rob Lemmon, Newcastle Planning Commission; Tom Magers, Newcastle Planning Commission; Jon Simpson, Newcastle Planning Commission; and Elizabeth Thompson, Newcastle Planning Commission

How will you open communications with your constituents?

I am door-belling every home in Newcastle before Election Day. My cell is 206-605-2923; my e-mail is jcdrescher@gmail.com; and my website is johndrescher.com.

What is the No. 1 problem facing Newcastle that you will address?

We need to strengthen our city’s balance sheet to improve public safety, roads, infrastructure, parks and trails — without raising taxes.

How would you help Newcastle secure a solid financial future?

Work to establish distinct Newcastle ZIP code for clarity, convenience and to ensure collection of our full share of online retail sales tax revenue.

Name two areas you could support cutting from the city budget, if needed.

1) By working smartly with new development, new sidewalks and street improvements should come at a sharply reduced cost 2) Salary/benefits for any underperforming staff

What should be the city’s role in economic development?

Newcastle should make clear through word and policy that it welcomes and encourages entrepreneurs who choose to invest in and bring services to our city.

What will be the city’s top accomplishment in the next four years?

Sounder financial footing that allows for improved public safety, roads, infrastructure, parks and trails, and the successful implementation of the Mutual Materials site.

What recent council decision would you have changed if you could? Why?

It was unfortunate to lose a full-time parks director. Parks are our strength. We should invest in their proper care and fullest use.

What is the most urgent infrastructure need facing Newcastle?

New sidewalks in a few key areas of town would greatly improve the safety of our city — and make the downtown core more accessible.

What is your vision for Lake Boren Park, and how can you make it happen?

My vision includes an expanded park, including a public walkway encircling the lake. We are working toward this with the Newcastle 2035 plan.

How can you encourage development of the Mutual Materials site to benefit the city?

By encouraging development consistent with our city’s long-term plan, including ample public space and new retail services that add much-needed recurring revenue to city coffers.

Do you see a need for any future voter-approved bonds, and for what?

Not immediately, though I would not rule out the possibility for a critically important, impactful project in the clear long-term best interest of the city.

How will the city continue to improve public safety?

My goal is for two Newcastle officers to be on duty 24/7 for added prevention and quicker response to combat the sharp rise in crime.

Should the city expand its recreation programs? Explain.

Parks/trails are our strength. I am in favor of funding a full-time community activities/parks manager when the city finances better allow for such.

 

Mark Greene

Mark Greene

Mark Greene

Age: 59

Years of residence in Newcastle: eight

Occupation: legal assistant

Education:  A.A.S. Degree, Inver Hills College, state of Minnesota

Political experience: chairman of Party of Commons (since 2006) and founder of Democracy in Election Process (since 2010), runner-up for King County Director of Elections (2011 General Election)

Endorsements: Darcy Burner (former two-time Congress nominee)

How will you open communications with your constituents?

I would invite constituents through my sites, blogs and city memorandums to come to council meetings, and to write and call me.

What is the No. 1 problem facing Newcastle that you will address?

Keeping our identity as an independent city so that we can make our own decisions in solving problems, and not the mayor of Bellevue.

How would you help Newcastle secure a solid financial future?

Ensuring basic services reign supreme and ensuring that we give full support to our very effective city staff so they will want to stay forever.

Name two areas you could support cutting from the city budget, if needed.

Spending half the usual $2 million annually on streets unless constituents indicate they would accept a little higher taxes. That cut wouldn’t necessitate another.

What should be the city’s role in economic development?

Encouraging it through proactive policies, such as inviting developers and entrepreneurs to City Hall, and running the city well will help to achieve that goal.

What will be the city’s top accomplishment in the next 4 years?

If elected, my proposed Environmental Enhancement Project, that’ll map infrastructure problems, other hazards and start a geothermal plant to save money on energy costs.

What recent council decision would you have changed if you could? Why?

No one decision, but approving various zoning ordinances without requirement that large real estate gentrification cannot displace renters without limitations on increased rent or compensation.

What is the most urgent infrastructure need facing Newcastle?

Public Works has done a great job with storm water drainage and sidewalk expansion, but they haven’t had the budget necessary for more sidewalk repairs.

What is your vision for Lake Boren Park, and how can you make it happen?

Being miracle workers, the council would turn the lake back to pure blue (anti-pollution), and Community Activities will find other goals for us.

How can you encourage development of the Mutual Materials site to benefit the city?

By making sure all city decisions about the development of the site are solely the best interests of the city, including jobs, housing and environment.

Do you see a need for any future voter-approved bonds, and for what?

If my proposed environmental project takes off, we’ll need bonds to start a geothermal plant in Newcastle (energy bills could be reduced by 33 percent).

How will the city continue to improve public safety?

Support Police Chief Melinda Irvine and her proposals, including a few extra patrol officers.

Should the city expand its recreation programs? Explain.

Maybe, but under a tight budget, recreation won’t be high on the totem pole. With all the wide-open fields, here, people are quite innovative.

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