MAKE RENTON A BETTER PLACE

Renton Reporter In-Paper Debates

 

Initial Response/Answer to Question in BLACK; Rebuttal Response/Answer to Question in PURPLE

Full articles and debate answers from all candidates in all races can be found at www.RentonReporter.com in editions dated: 
          June 15, 2017, June 21, 2017, June 28, 2017, July 6, 2017, October 11, 2017 and October 19, 2017.


ROUND ONE DEBATE QUESTIONS
 

Question No. 1: Explain why you are the best candidate for this position. Why did you choose to run?


Armondo Pavone 

I have owned and operated restaurants in the Renton area since 1985. I have personally met and served thousands of our residents from every neighborhood in the city. I firmly believe good governance can only be achieved through inclusive public engagement. City government is proving to be the last opportunity for the individual to make a difference in their community. As a councilmember, I have proven my ability to be accessible, responsive, inclusive and open to all my constituents. One of the most important responsibilities a local elected official has is oversight of the city spending. My experience operating successful businesses and my work on volunteer boards has given me a deep understanding of the budget process and long term financial planning. My ability to collaborate and candid approach to problem solving has earned me the support of my colleagues throughout the region.

My reason for running for re-election is because the community has been very supportive to me and my family over the past 35 years. Serving on the council affords me the opportunity to give back in a very meaningful way.


Diane Dobson 

I am the best candidate for this position because I believe in the power of the people. I believe the city belongs to the citizens and our voices need to be heard. I believe the municipality works for the people and not the other way around. I acknowledge the “reality” of the world we live in as I live it, work it and walk it daily. I see first-hand the areas that are challenged and I hear the inconsistent reports coming down from our department heads and administration. I engage with other citizens, no matter their circumstances — from the affluent who live on the lake to the mentally ill and homeless living on the streets. I hear first hand the challenges they face and recognize the disconnect between various elements of our city and our citizens. I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves, get dirty and exert diligence to remove barriers and find solutions.

Why did I run? Because I believe I can make a difference. I am tired of having our public safety, and other issues important to us as citizens, dismissed by the current administration as “perception.” I believe we can make Renton a better place — but we need people in place who acknowledge and understand the challenges we really face in order to come up with solutions that work. If we cannot even agree on the challenges, it’s a hard path to get to the road toward solutions.

 

REBUTTAL OPPORTUNITY
Question No. 1
: Explain why you are the best candidate for this position. Why did you choose to run?


Armondo Pavone 

To evaluate the qualifications of a candidate it is important to fully understand the role of a council member. The principle job of a city council member is to make policy on behalf of the residents. It is important to recognize the constraints of the position and understand it is not the council’s role to administer city affairs. Strong personal convictions about an issue are only as valuable as the ability to achieve results. It takes collaboration and the ability to gain support of your colleagues to move a policy forward.

As a member of the Renton City Council, I have proven my ability to listen to all my constituents, whether I agree with them or not. I have effectively worked with my fellow council members through difficult and sometimes divisive issues. In addition, I have displayed a willingness to change my mind after listening to input from constituents and my council colleagues.


Diane Dobson

The Renton City Council is the legislative forum for our city. My training and 28 years experience working in our family law firm directly relates to the responsibilities of a council member — contract review, budget oversight, reading and understanding legal documents, property acquisition and sales, leasing and property management, and having the foresight to understand how all factors can and will impact a situation. The very first step in that legal process, however, is to listen to our clients, understand their challenges and then work together toward solutions and common goals.

My volunteer service and giving back through local nonprofits, city boards and commissions and working with the youth in our community gives me a varied perspective on our city operations and how it truly impacts all levels and demographics of our citizens.

The council works on adopting ordinances of all kinds. My professional work, together with my philanthropic work, provides not only the intellect to understand the same but the wisdom to know how it can best be applied to our city in order to protect the interests of the constituents.

The ability to make a difference in our community lies within all of us — not just those in city government.

 



Question No. 2: Is the recent increase of economic development in the city addressing the needs of all Renton residents?


Armondo Pavone 

I believe it is important for us to have smart economic growth strategies to achieve development goals and still maintain our distinctive Renton character. A vibrant economy contributes to living wage employment, affordable housing, access to education and the support of city services. The Sunset Area Plan is a great example of smart growth and planning. The city is working with 28 local and regional stakeholders and partners to help revitalize the area. The result will be a revitalized neighborhood with substantial new, affordable and market rate housing with support and opportunities for low income families. This will also provide a catalyst for more new housing and business investment in the community. Renton’s dedication to progress and commitment to economic vitality has created a positive environment for entrepreneurial growth. Smart, well thought out, economic development improves access to basic necessities as well as social and recreational opportunities.


Diane Dobson

No. Look around — we have citizens who are unhoused, citizens without employment, citizens who cannot make ends meet and are foregoing their basic needs of food, clothing, shelter … we have children sleeping in cars, not attending school because they have no home or inadequate clothing, cannot provide an environment conducive to learning … we have people eating out of garbage cans, mentally ill sleeping in doorways, transients preying on Renton resources and resources infighting rather than collaborating to bring about the most good. So to simply answer the question as posed, NO, we are not addressing the needs of ALL Renton residents.



REBUTTAL OPPORTUNITY:
Question No. 2: Is the recent increase of economic development in the city addressing the needs of all Renton residents?


Armondo Pavone 

Over the past 15 years, Renton’s economic development efforts have resulted in significant investments in our community that has boosted our tax base. In return, this has helped pay for police, fire and medical services, parks, roads and other city services, while also providing thousands of new, local jobs. IKEA, Wizards of the Coast, Seattle Seahawks, Federal Reserve Bank and the Landing are some examples of this effort. More recently, Kaiser Permanente corporate offices (formerly Group Health), Providence Health & Services corporate offices and Hyatt Regency Lake Washington are just three examples of companies that have invested hundreds of millions in Renton. In total, they have brought thousands of living wage jobs to our community and significant tax revenues that support city services.

Identifying homelessness in our community is not a valid way to evaluate the success we enjoy from Renton’s economic development efforts. The homelessness issue is a national crisis that every major jurisdiction is struggling to address. In a joint effort with local service groups, Renton is taking a comprehensive approach to provide wrap around services to our homeless community while working collaboratively with other cities in King County to develop a sustainable plan to address these issues.


Diane Dobson 

We have a wide range of citizens who call Renton home — who are proud to call Renton home. The different demographics contained within our city all contribute to the charm and uniqueness and makes Renton such a wonderful place to live.

The increase of economic development is fantastic in some areas but how is it directly impacting our citizens? Traffic congestion, construction delays and disruption, property values and property taxes increasing. We have neighborhoods undergoing rapid transformations impacting the seniors and individuals on fixed incomes who live there, who have retired there and who call Renton their “forever home.” Neighbors are feeling those hits as property tax statements are being delivered this week. We have small businesses who cannot afford their increased rents or trying to compete with corporate franchises. Some might call it gentrification. Growth is unavoidable but foresight toward responsible growth to protect our citizens and communities is CRUCIAL.

We have the ability to work together to make Renton the better place for all of our citizens — to improve the health of our streets, to care for those less fortunate and to maximize our ownership to reduce the impact on our resources. To make Renton a better place for everyone.

 



Question No. 3: Some residents in Renton are fearful of the federal government in regard to immigration and deportation — as an elected official what would your stance be on these issues?

Armondo Pavone

As Council President, I firmly stand behind our business plan and mission statement which stresses our commitment to build an inclusive city with opportunities for all. In Renton, we have embraced our diversity and believe that strong vibrant communities are built by providing services and opportunities that reach everyone in the city, including those who do not speak English as a first language. Our city’s leadership and continuous efforts with inclusion and diversity have been nationally recognized. We are continually meeting with community leaders and members of our immigrant communities to reassure them that we have no plans to check on the status of those doing business or requesting service from the police. Through community engagement we will continue to remove barriers and work towards making all the residents of Renton feel safe and welcome.


Diane Dobson 

As an elected official in the City of Renton, one of the most diverse cities in the entire nation, I would do all I could to learn about the subject matter that is so important to so many of our citizens.

I would speak with community leaders, talk to the citizens who are directly impacted by these matters and encourage and engage in public forums to hear open and candid discussion from our citizens.

I would educate myself on the laws and stances that the federal, state and municipal governments are embracing and the reasoning behind the same – including the information only our City Leadership may be privy to.

I would utilize the capacity as an elected official to engage in the types of conversations and acquire the information to make the most educated and informed stance on the issue(s) surrounding this as I could when in office.



REBUTTAL OPPORTUNITY:
Question No. 3: Some residents in Renton are fearful of the federal government in regard to immigration and deportation — as an elected official what would your stance be on these issues?


Armondo Pavone

An inclusive city is one that values all people and their needs equally, where all residents have a representative voice in governance, planning, budgeting and access to basic services. In our efforts to become an inclusive city, I believe it is important we don’t lose our focus. Through the city’s leadership, inclusion is becoming woven into the very fiber of how we conduct business. It is important we nurture this progress and not become sidetracked by divisive arguments. We have never checked for immigration status and I would not support any plan to start checking. I will continue to support the meetings with community leaders and members of our immigrant communities to assure them we have no plans to check on the status of those doing business or requesting services from the police. Only through continued community engagement will we continue to remove barriers and make all the residents in Renton feel safe and welcome.


Diane Dobson 

Immigrants of all sorts from all areas built Renton and as a result, it has become one of the most diverse and culturally rich places to live and raise our families — learning from each other’s perspectives, experiences and cultures. (My family too immigrated to America at one point, settling in the Renton area in the late 1800s … before Renton was even a city).

These relations are important to me. The Renton-Nishiwaki (Japan) Sister City Association was co-founded by my father, Wyman Dobson, in 1969 and I was a founding member of the Renton-Cualtla (Mexico) Sister City Association in 2001. These associations work to enhance citizen understanding and appreciation for other cultures and promote international goodwill and cooperation through people to people relationships worldwide — especially within the city of Renton.

It is important to continue to foster that feeling of welcoming inclusivity, promoting legal steps toward citizenship while respecting the laws keeping our communities (including all of our citizens) safe from crime.

The city of Renton continues to have a welcome and inviting approach in this sense that we can be proud of.

 



Question No. 4: What is your position on how the city should combat crime and keep neighborhoods safe? And what can the City Council do about it?


Armondo Pavone 

As an elected official, public safety is my top priority. We are blessed in Renton to have one of the most well trained, responsive and professional police departments in the state. The city council is a legislative body and as a council member I will continue to:

• Work to strengthen the active partnerships with community groups, residents and neighborhood leaders.

• Provide the needed resources and tools. Encourage the exploration of new techniques and technology.

• Support the use of specialized emphasis patrols that look to address the causes of crime and reduce the opportunity for it to occur

• Ensure state legislators fully fund the Basic Law Enforcement Academy. This will allow the city to hire, train and staff the department to the level we have budgeted for.

• Support the responsive individualized approach to neighborhood issues.


Diane Dobson 

Pride and ownership. Give neighborhoods reasons to be proud, to want to know their neighbors and get involved. The more the neighborhoods can absorb, the less drain we will feel on city resources.

Community based policing. Nobody knows the neighborhoods better than the residents who live there. Involve them in the process toward solutions so their voices are heard and valued.

Work with the city attorney, police department and neighborhoods to find out the REAL challenges faced and enforce the laws we have on the books (or modify them to make them contemporary). Encourage the city attorney and King County to become more proactive with the cases they pursue and educate our officers and city officials on the tools already available. Don’t allow any neighborhood, community or citizen to feel dismissed — learn the realities they live with. Become progressive with contemporary solutions and find ways to give those people charged with our safety more teeth so they can work smarter and not harder.

The council should LISTEN to the words of the citizens, facilitate communication, encourage accountability, use their position to ask questions/demand answers and break down the barriers in overcoming obstacles toward solution. Be the voice of strength when the citizens want to give up — that’s why they are generally there asking for help in the first place.

 

REBUTTAL OPPORTUNITY:
Question No. 4: What is your position on how the city should combat crime and keep neighborhoods safe? And what can the City Council do about it?


Armondo Pavone 

It was disappointing to hear my opponent’s response to your question last week, implying the council needs to “LISTEN” more. Last year as the chair of the Public Safety Committee, I was contacted by the North Renton Neighborhood Association, which my opponent used to be an active member of, expressing concerns regarding the increase in vagrancy, code infractions, homelessness and crime in their neighborhood. The association leadership invited us to witness their concerns first hand.

Two of my council colleagues and I, along with members of the neighborhood, walked the area and listened to their concerns. This was followed by a very well attended North Renton town hall meeting, which included the city administration and most of the department heads. Police and code enforcement staff followed up with several meetings. The result was a better understanding by all, and some immediate action that resulted in praise from the neighborhood association leadership. That communication continues today.

As a follow up to our tour last year, four council members, including myself, attended the May 16, 2017 North Renton Neighborhood association meeting. This provided us a chance to further engage and listen to the residents. The council has demonstrated that it is committed to listening to the concerns of our residents and working with the administration to address public safety issues while seeking solutions to complex challenges that impact the community.


Diane Dobson 

As a citizen, I have already PROVEN that public safety IS my top priority as I have been actively working on improving the safety and integrity of our neighborhoods and community, including the downtown core.

We have worked within our neighborhood — re-energizing our neighborhood association; promoting block watch participation; opening communication with our Renton Police Department; conducted a Town Hall Meeting that brought city leaders, department heads and police officials together to hold City Hall accountable on items critical to our public safety and function; and brought about actual changes to ordinances and policies in making them more contemporary and applicable (including, most recently, developing ordinances relating property/vehicle trespass and encouraging changes to the dangerous dog laws).

In the downtown core, we are encouraging business owners to join and support the Downtown Business Partnership; participate with the Business Watch program (including personally meeting with business owners to encourage the use of tools like the Business Trespass Authorization) and also lead by example with proactive steps to keep their own areas free of debris and crime.

Council members do have the ability to think outside the box, work together with communities toward solutions, influence change in policies and help citizens with these processes.
 



1st Round Closing Statements
 

Armondo Pavone 

It has been my humble honor to serve and represent the residents and businesses of Renton. I feel privileged to work on behalf of all my constituents to ensure Renton continues to provide the services we all count on. The community has been extremely supportive of my family and I, starting with the opening of Armondo’s Café Italiano in 1985, to our current business, Melrose Grill. During this time, I have been an active civic member and serving on the Renton City Council has allowed me the opportunity to give back to the community in a meaningful way.

We live in a very desirable and growing city. The challenges and opportunities we face will need to be met by a well informed and collaborative city council. I have proven my ability to listen to input from all my constituents and work effectively with my colleagues. Therefore, I ask for your support and vote in the upcoming election. Thank you.


Diane Dobson 

My passion and love for serving my community has been life long and I recognize there is a difference between customer service and community service.

In 1985, I was part of a group of youth who petitioned the city for a new local playground — gathering public support, presenting ideas to council, working with Environmental Protection Agency and Parks Departments, presenting at contentious public hearings and seeing the process through until we had a new park for the kids to safely play at. I was 10 and this was just the beginning.

In 2003, the city of Renton recognized me with the highest recognition of service the city bestows — Citizen of the Year.

I have been blessed to have opportunities for giving back and supporting our community through groups like Renton Lions Club, the North Renton Neighborhood Association, Habitat for Humanity, Renton Clothes Bank, Lions in Sight, Special Olympics, CISR and School District, Leader Dogs for the Blind, Emergency Feeding Program, River Days, City-wide cleanups, coaching youth sports….

I now ask for YOUR support as a community — to enable me a voice at the table, to hear the challenges we face as and use my wisdom to make a guiding difference. I ask for your vote this year as your candidate for Renton City Council, Position No. 2.
 

 


ROUND TWO DEBATE QUESTIONS

 

Round 2 Question 1: Renton City Council unanimously voted against having a safe injection site within city limits. Do you think it is the city’s responsibility to address the current opioid epidemic? If so, how should the city address it? 

 

Armondo Pavone
I believe it is always the city’s responsibility to address anything that has an impact on the safety or welfare of the residents and businesses. To truly stem the opioid epidemic will require an all-in approach which means working across all sectors to ensure equal access to effective treatment among diverse groups. At this time, the city needs to continue to work closely with the county on the Opioid Addiction Task Force and follow through on the recommendations, like providing first responders with training and NARCAN kits which can reverse opioid drug overdoses.
 

Diane Dobson
I absolutely believe we should be taking steps to address the opioid epidemic.

For starters, we currently have an opportunity to join efforts with other municipalities and entities — like Seattle, Tacoma and Everett and the State of Washington — to put pressure on the pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical companies — in our region specifically — downplayed the addictive nature of the opioids and provided incentives for pharmaceutical reps to promote the opioid use rather than expose the “pill mills” they were creating. Now that the epidemic is upon us, the pharmaceutical companies are again profiting off the federal push for emergency responders to carry naloxone, as an overdose reversal medication. These civil-litigation suits should aim to relieve the burden of paying for the costs of the opioid addictions and diseases, to fund public-health programs and awareness campaigns and to further additional mental health treatment, as mental health is a major component with many addictions and other social challenges.


REBUTTAL OPPORTUNITY:
Round 2 Question 1:
Renton City Council unanimously voted against having a safe injection site within city limits. Do you think it is the city’s responsibility to address the current opioid epidemic? If so, how should the city address it? 


Armondo Pavone
I do agree the pharmaceutical companies are complicit in the opioid epidemic and need to be held accountable. That being said, this will be a long and very costly ordeal. I believe the county, state and federal government are much better equipped with the tools and resources needed to litigate such a civil lawsuit. If the lawsuit is successful, the city and our community will still benefit from the outcome.


Diane Dobson
The mental health component is often overlooked as an obligatory speaking point but failed to be recognized as a central component in many of our social challenges — addiction being one.

As we provide incentives for businesses to come to Renton, we have opportunities to encourage those in the mental health profession to come to Renton too. Seeking out professions/services that will make a lasting impact on our community and provide real assistance to some of our most vulnerable communities.

Making concentrated efforts to provide proactive approaches dealing with people on the street, working with emergency responders, being proactive with mental health intervention at a point in the process where someone is choosing whether or not to do their drugs, not just where they might do them or how we might chemically reverse the impact after they do.

If you continue the same approach to problems, you continue to get the same results. We need to be proactive, creative and aggressive with our approach to the opioid epidemic because current suggestions toward solution have not worked.

 


 

Round 2 Question 2: In 2014, the city implemented a B&O (business & occupation) tax for businesses that have a gross revenue of $1.5 million dollars or more. Given the recent surge of economic development, should the city readdress the tax? If so, how?

 

Armondo Pavone
The city is currently working through issues regarding the B&O tax. The new on-line license portals required by the state will not be compatible with the city’s use of the head tax. In order to become compliant and at the same time simplify the business taxing structure, the city will need to make changes. In an effort to move small businesses (under 1.5 million in sales) to the B&O tax it’s important to have minimal impact on these businesses and at the same time be revenue-neutral. The B&O tax is the mechanism allowed by the state to collect taxes from businesses to help fund city services. The city works hard to manage resources responsibly and I believe after only two years it is too soon to readdress it.


Diane Dobson
The city should always maintain a constant review of taxes that impact our city, make effort to not increase taxes (especially in effort to protect our small businesses) while making sure our resources can sustain and maintain the healthy infrastructure of our city.


REBUTTAL OPPORTUNITY:
Neither candidate offered a rebuttal to this question.


 


 

Round 2 Question 3: What is the greatest benefit of being an elected official in this community? 

 

Armondo Pavone
There are several benefits to being a council member. First, it has provided me with the opportunity to help residents and local businesses navigate the city process and be their voice when needed.

Second, it has allowed me to create policy and effect change in the community where I have lived my whole life and have chosen to raise my family.

Lastly, it gives me a sense of pride to give back to the community that has supported my businesses throughout the years.


Diane Dobson
Being a conduit for the people — whether it be in networking people who may not otherwise have opportunity to connect, spreading enthusiasm for events and great things happening in our city or letting people know of changes impacting them.

Not just being a voice for the people but the ears for the people — providing transparency and accountability in city affairs and matters important to them like zoning changes, ordinances, city plans and intent.

The chance to be a true public servant. Helping others is my passion – I was the youngest ever Citizen of the Year in Renton in 2003.

Service for others has been a life long commitment as I am a fourth generation Rentonite who wants to continue to serve others.

The opportunity to make a lasting impact on the city I love, while connecting with the most people possible to make Renton a better place.



NO REBUTTAL OPPORTUNITY PROVIDED TO ROUND 2 CLOSING QUESTION 3.