MAKE RENTON A BETTER PLACE

"What makes you the better candidate?"

The Question was recently posed to the candidates:  "What makes you the better candidate?" 
Here is candidate Dobson's response:

I answer with:
-  a simple statement
-  a long-winded response
-  copy of my speech at the District 11 GOP Candidates Forum


In a SIMPLE STATEMENT - I believe my legal background and training; my years of board experience; my lifetime of community service and my expectations for accountability and transparency (beginning with myself) will allow me to serve as a better representative for the people of the City of Renton.  I am in love with my City and my passion in life is helping others and I act as a constant and genuine conduit to connect people with their passions and solutions to their needs.  I have substantiated actions to back up my platform of importance in my campaign in my work as a citizen, am not afraid to get my hands dirty to do the work and I can only do greater things from a voice at the table.


**************************************************************************************************
LONG WINDED RESPONSE -

The City Council serves as the legislative forum for the City of Renton - reviewing and adopting ordinances of all kinds.  For the past 28 years, I have worked in the legal field and that's what my daily grind consists of.  Reading, reviewing and interpreting laws of all sorts.  I have utilized those skills as a citizen to benefit our communities already.

MY PLATFORM:  PUBLIC SAFETY, STRENGTHENING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS & COMMUNITY AND GIVING A VOICE TO OUR PEOPLE:


PUBLIC SAFETY: 
 As a CITIZEN, I have been instrumental in the addition and modification of 3 major ordinances this year alone:  

1 - Ordinance 5855, approved on August 14, 2017.  This ordinance was put in motion after our neighborhood in North Renton experienced continual and regular vehicle break ins and despite individuals being caught on camera, the police were not able to arrest or take enforcement action because the laws in place only provided the opportunity to do so if the police officer witnessed the act themself.  I worked with the Renton Police Department (specifically Deputy Chief VanValey) and the City Attorney to bring about this contemporary ordinance to give our police officers more tools to do their job.


2 - Ordinance 5859, approved on August 21, 2017.  This ordinance brought current previous City ordinance relating to vicious and dangerous animals.  This modification to ordinance was brought about because of a vicious pitbull in our neighborhood that the owner did not control.  It attacked 3 dogs, ultimately killing 1, without any consequence.  RPD and Animal Control cited "years of the inability to enforce anything against dangerous dogs because of a short coming with the laws."  I challenged the City to change those laws.  This revised ordinance allows the RPD to find the owner of an animal responsible for the behavior of such vicious animal.


3 - Ordinance 5685 - is currently under review and working on verbiage for proposal for approval.  This ordinance relates to the harboring of a dangerous dog and the ability to declare an animal dangerous based upon a repetitive pattern of behavior.   


TOWN HALL.  Our North Renton neighborhood, of which I was Vice-President at the time, challenged the City Administration to participating in a Town Hall - the 1st Town Hall the City has held.  We planned, orchestrated and conducted that Town Hall, had attendance of over 150 people, participation of all of the major department heads and were able to pose questions and challenges to our City Leadership.  This Town Hall caused change in the approach of the Renton Police Department and the open lines of communication with our North Renton Neighborhood.  We (our neighborhood leaders and the Deputy Chief of Police) found this to be such a successful process, we advocated to hold a similar event quarterly.  The City took the process from us and promised to conduct the meetings quarterly, but in other neighborhoods and not just North Renton.  That's where the process died.  As a council member, I feel I would have the voice and influence to hold the City accountable to their promises.

NUISANCE PROPERTIES.  Our North Renton neighborhood approached the RPD, City Administration and Council about problem houses in our neighborhood.  When the RPD told us there was nothing more that could be done except in the event of an active crime in place; the Mayor and Administration told us their hands were tied as the uptick of criminal activity was region wide; the City Attorney advised us they were unable to do anything because their indecision on changing their nuisance property approach and the Council dismissed us as "beyond the scope of the councils purview"), I took matters into my own hands.  I worked with Code Enforcement to find other property violations (which there were plenty), I tracked the number of calls for service to the properties (as there were more than 14 per year) and I used the Nuisance Property Laws in the State of Washington to approach private property owners to advise them of the nuisance properties they were allowing and proving to them the nuisance property lawsuits we, as a neighborhood, could file against them as a result through a simple process in small claims court.  This encouraged the property owners to take a closer look at the "real" activities that were taking place in their rental properties.  We are currently working on the 5th civil eviction on proven drug & criminal houses in our neighborhood (including the eviction action of 1 property that had 10 squatters living in the property who were responsible for a large drug and crime ring in our neighborhood).  

CLEAN UPS.  I am active with Code Enforcement in identifying and working to clean up transient & criminal activity on private properties.  In addition to private properties in neighborhoods, I am active with doing clean ups throughout the City.  The more we can do as a community, the less burden it places on our resources.  Just last month, I tracked down the out-of-area property owners of the old Denny's on the corner of 2nd and Rainier and asked for permission to access their private property for the sake of a clean up.  (The City had told me "good luck" as they had given up trying since it was a church located in California with little regard to even respond to City demands.)  After receiving permission, we hauled out 1200 gallons of debris, human waste, trash and 100s of used needles.  I've also personally cleared out under the bridges along the Cedar River Trail, homeless encampments off of trail heads and have open communication with Code Enforcement for private property encampments and the Parks Department for encampments on public property.


I am a member of the Block Watch both with my immediate block and our neighborhood wide watch, a trained Community Emergency Response Team Member (a training provided by the City as it is the principal response system in the event of a community wide disaster), CPR & Emergency Response Trained, active with Nextdoor in our neighborhood communication and a resource to members of other neighborhoods in solving their public safety issues and concerns.



STRENGTHENING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS & COMMUNITY:

In addition to the aforementioned efforts in public safety, I am an advocate in bringing pride to our community - recognizing that pride, ownership and purpose for an individual in an area will increase their desire to make it and keep it a better place.  I have organized community events (North Renton Halloween Party, Christmas Caroling, the current "scarecrow event" downtown, the 1st ever blood drive at the Farmers Market (which Bloodworks said was their most successful blood drive in Renton yet)) amongst others.

I orchestrated the recent Urban Market in downtown Renton in September and co-chaired the market in April (the markets were a brain child of my daughter).  We utilized otherwise vacant building space, brought in vendors from all over (both local Renton artisans and also vendors from South Lake Union, Freemont, University Markets plus others) and hosted short term markets that brought in 100s of people to our downtown core to shop and experience the markets.  These markets have resulted in outside vendors exploring Renton for their brick & mortars, exposed our residents to new & exciting activities and also were so successful the City is exploring a regular market as part of their Civic Core Design going forward (similar to the Pike Place Market).

Through the Renton Downtown Partnership, I am involved with the chairmanship of a "Salmon Festival" next year - which will be a weekend event we hope to be similar to Issaquah Salmon Days.  We have proposed a 5k run, salmon bake, markets in parks, doggy dock diving, wine walk..... all in addition to drawing attention to our beautiful Cedar River and the amazing spawning channel we have for the endangered coho salmon and chinook (plus others).  We have already garnered the support and/or partnership of the Seattle Aquarium, the Cedar River Naturalists and other well-known groups for this event.  It is in its development stages but should be an outstanding event showcasing some of our most wonderful features of Renton and drawing people in from all over.

I support local economy & am a conduit and resource for local businesses.  (I encourage you to drive through downtown Renton to see who the local businesses are showing their support for in this campaign with the displays of signage.  Ask business owners who they see as hands on, making changes, for our downtown core and who is truly connected in efforts of what our downtown businesses want and need.)


GIVING A VOICE TO OUR RESIDENTS:

The City of Renton (as with many municipalities) is good at slipping things by residents without them becoming aware until the ball is already in motion and its too late to change a plan.

Example:
For nearto 4 years, I have been advocating on behalf of the community against a plan in place (Strategy 8.3 of the City Center Community Plan) to remove the lower portion of the Cedar River Trail and the 27 parcels of private property located adjacent thereto.

When the City wouldn't give me the time of day as an individual, I re-energized the North Renton Neighborhood Association to be a bigger voice, pushed to be appointed to the City Center Community Plan Advisory Board and then with public support was able to get the City to finally acknowledge the plan in its existence. I pushed for public meetings, a public hearing and now the City is coming up with an alternative to their proposed plan that was developed by planners and a design firm who do not even live in Renton.  (NOTE - that plan is still not off the books so if the lower trail on the Cedar River is important to you, I encourage you to pay close attention to the public process on the same).


In order to be an effective representative of the people, you have to not only be willing to listen to the people and be connected to the people and their needs, but the people also need to know whats going on in order to tell you what those interests and needs are.



***********RECENT SPEECH TO THE DISTRICT 11 GOP AT THEIR CANDIDATES FORUM**********

I have worked for 28 years in our family law firm downtown Renton as a paralegal reading, reviewing and drafting legal documents, conducting legal research, advocating on behalf of clients and recognized by the court for court presentation. We specialize in real estate, property laws, civil litigation contract work, estate planning and probate work. My grandfather John, great uncle Dave and father Wyman were partners in the over 80 year firm - my father still practicing after 57 years.
 

I’m a 3rd generation, 20 year member of the Renton Lions Club – serving as President twice and Zone Chairmain once (my family has volunteered over 190 years of service in the Lions Club alone). I’ve worked with the Renton Clothes Bank, an international delegate with the Renton Nishiwaki Sister City Association (which my father co-founded almost 50 years ago), founding secretary of the Renton Cualtla Sister City Association, a founding member of the Renton Downtown Partnership, and recently hosted 2 urban markets where we’ve brought vacant downtown storefronts to life with outside vendors, artisan crafters and 100s of shoppers.
 

I’ve been involved with Habitat for Humanity – including grant writing, builds and helping to secure funding for a local build for a grandmother with MS who was raising her young grandchildren; volunteered with Birthday Dream and with Communities in Schools of Renton; traveled on philanthropic missions with Lions in Sight – providing screenings & eyeglasses in 3rd world countries; worked with Special Olympics – both with the athletes and providing the medical screening; deliver food regularly to homeless shelters and the food bank; ring bells for Salvation Army, and participate in community clean ups (including recently tracking down the out-of-area property owner of the old Denny’s on Rainier & 2nd Ave clearing out over 1200 gallons of trash, debris, human waste and 100’s of used needles – thank you again to Fire Station 11 for taking those sharps).
 

I’ve been active in our North Renton Neighborhood in strengthening our community and cleaning things up – now working on our 5th civil eviction of crime & drug houses --- houses the City told us their hands were tied on and there was little more they could do. I recently pushed for a new City “vicious animal ordinance” to hold owners accountable for the actions of their pets and the City is revising the dangerous dog ordinance as well (due to a nuisance owner of an untrained pitbull which attacked 3 dogs and killed yet another this past year). Stayed steadfast with pressure on the City Attorney and Renton Police Department until a new ordinance was put in place allowing the use of cameras for trespass enforcement of vehicles in particular (when our vehicle break in and prowl rate seemed at an all-time high in our neighborhood and the police response would be “I can’t do anything about the individual you have on camera getting into your car because I didn’t see them trespass or get in the vehicle myself”).
 

I coached the swim teams at Hazen High School, where I tripled the program sizes up to 75-80 kids, offered 12 practices a week so we didn’t have to cut and all kids had an opportunity to participate ….. including special needs & handicap students and students who had never been involved with athletics or even knew how to swim. We implemented team study tables and goal setting and one year achieved the highest team g.p.a. in the state with a 3.74 gpa average among 54 varsity athletes. When the School District was proposing to close the high school pools, we encouraged the kids & their parents to show up at public meetings and become a part of the process – which they did in mass – and the pools still remain open today.
 

I’ve worked with the Board of Directors at my parents hotel, a 59 until hotel that successfully operates on a multi-million dollar annual budget, have served on the board and in officer positions with most of the organizations I’ve been in, secured 501(c)3 recognition for multiple organizations, am a member of the Mayor’s Appointed City Center Community Plan Advisory Board and was honored by the City of Renton in 2003 as the youngest ever recognized Citizen of the Year for the City of Renton (still the youngest citizen ever to receive this distinction).
 

I was born and raised in Renton and spent all of my life living and working in Renton. My pioneer family followed coal here in the 1870s - the Piazza Park in downtown Renton bears a plaque as the original location of our Dobson family homestead. My great grandfather Tom was the 8th Mayor of Renton, a State Legislator and King County Commissioner. My family has been involved in Renton with coal mining, mens wear, hardware store, restaurants, owners with Maplewood Golf Course, affordable rental properties, downtown office buildings, real estate, insurance and law.
 

I advocated for my first park to be built in the community when I was 9 since some neighborhood kids in North Renton couldn’t go to Liberty Park because of the busy Bronson street and the transient activity at the park and under the bridge. So, together with another neighbor who was 10, we had petitions signed and approached the City with a plan to install a playground at Jones Park. We attended City Council Meetings, public hearings, worked with the EPA, the parks department and the army corps and ultimately were successful in our efforts – a newspaper article from that time was captioned “Kids Take on City Hall and Win!”
 

I raised my daughter, now 25, in the same culture of community give back and she has received countless awards for her community service.

My platform is public safety, strengthening our communities & neighborhoods and giving a voice to the people. I don’t want to be the voice for the people – I want to give people a voice. I want to be the ears for the people – encouraging transparency and accountability in our municipal leadership, letting our residents know when issues will impact them – like zoning or ordinance changes – or how matters like Sound Transit will really impact our residents. I want to be involved with solutions to challenges we face as a community like a shortage in our police force, ever rising property taxes & housing expenses that are displacing our residents, reducing the impacts on our resources, promoting small businesses & our local economy, encouraging accountability and proactive actions in our war against the opioid epidemic …. including an emphasis on the mental health component.
 

My father is retiring this year from our family law firm – which means I am “retiring” too. My daughter is grown and I have nothing but time, opportunity and desire to give back to my community.
 

I want to be your council member. I want to use my knowledge & experience to make a lasting impact in the development of our community but more so – I want to use my true love for our City and my passion for helping others to not just be a policy maker who reviews the policies and procedures in Renton, but a citizen who uses that platform to reach the most people and make the biggest difference in the lives of the people who live and work here.
 

I want to make Renton a Better Place for everyone.