Barbara de Michele and Tim Flood are running for Issaquah City Council Position 3 in the Nov. 5 General Election. They each answered a questionnaire from the Reporter.
According to candidate statements on the King County Elections website, de Michele holds a bachelor’s degree in English and education from Washington State University and a master’s degree in English education from Eastern Connecticut State University. She is a communications professional, formerly at King County Transportation community relations, and former teacher.
Tim Flood has an MBA in technology management, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, an analytics graduate certificate and a board service certificate. He is a program manager and global security showcase director at Microsoft.
Where do you stand on the decision of whether to fluoridate the city’s water supply?
de Michele: I support the proposal to fluoridate the city’s entire water supply. In a climate where many people deny science, it’s important for elected officials to carefully consider recommendations based on solid scientific research. In this case, the Center for Disease Control, the University of Washington School of Public Health and the vast majority of researchers over the past four decades have declared fluoride safe and beneficial for humans. As a mom, grandmother, former school teacher and former school board member, I understand the health and learning benefits that have been achieved for children through fluoridation and vastly reduced tooth decay. Two-thirds of Issaquah residents already receive fluoride in their water. It would be an undue burden on all utility users to impose the high fees necessary to remove already-fluoridated water from Issaquah’s water supply.
Flood: Water fluoridation has been shown to reduce cavities and tooth decay, and is commonly added to municipal water supplies. Today, about a third of Issaquah residents are receiving non-fluoridated water from the Issaquah Valley Aquifer. As the city builds a new water treatment facility, we have the opportunity to ensure all of our residents receive the same water, with the same level of fluoride recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service of .7 ppm. This is my position. Not including fluoridation in our new plant would result in the mixing of water sources, in which we would not know the levels of fluoride in the water. Actively removing the fluoride would forego the benefits while also increasing costs of the average water bill by $25.
Issaquah has had four unsuccessful state audits in the past four years, how would you ensure financial accountability for the city?
de Michele: I served on the Issaquah School Board for two terms, and as president of the board two separate years, during a period when the school district received (and now continues to receive) consecutive perfect audits. Financial accountability with complete transparency is essential to maintaining public trust. The city council can do much to ensure its financial accountability including: Support the mayor and her administration’s efforts to provide an accurate and transparent budgeting process; require monthly city financial reports to the council (not now happening on a regular basis); require that “best practices” accounting methods are in place and being used; require that state auditors meet annually with the city council president to discuss any audit shortcomings and how they should be remedied; require that the mayor provide the city council with complete information and proposed remedies for any future audit failures. Financial accountability is ultimately a matter of trust between the city of Issaquah and its residents. Without it, trust in democracy itself is eroded. For that reason, I support funding to communicate openly and frequently with all city residents.
Flood: Our inability to pass the state audits was a result of inadequate internal controls, particular staff and a complex software platform upgrade. With the turnover in staff, including our director of finance, I’ve been assured that the new staff and technology in place will ensure that the city can properly manage its finances and pass state audits moving forward. The city is also working with third-party experts to address the root causes of our issues and examine our day-to-day practices to elevate the performance of the department. As a member of the city council, I would want access to regular financial reports, as well as regular updates from the finance department and third-party consultants to monitor our progress and performance. This is a case where transparency is critical, particularly at a time where we face a budget shortfall.
How do you plan to address traffic and travel issues? How do you intend to find solutions to mitigate traffic congestion?
de Michele: I’m the only candidate in this race proposing a balanced approach to getting you through our growing traffic jams. We can no longer rely solely on road improvements — we need more transit options, more pedestrian options and a lot more encouragement for you to use them. I worked for King County’s Department of Transportation for 17 years. I’m all too aware of the rising costs of new roads – they take too long to complete, damage neighborhood environments and require early public support. I want to reduce congestion in our lifetime – creating more enjoyable and efficient transit options with improved connections to destinations you want to reach. I’ve found that businesses are open to helping workers reduce reliance on single passenger trips with van pools, car pools and ride share services, as well as helping more employees telecommute. Adding more bike paths and walking paths will help Issaquah residents get around town. And, for all the traffic coming from the north and south of us, Issaquah needs to roll up its sleeves to work with our neighboring municipalities to divert and reduce the number of cars passing through Issaquah each day.
Flood: As a member of the Issaquah Traffic Task Force, I’ve developed an in-depth knowledge of the challenges we face and realistic solutions to address them. I would prioritize roadway projects that have tangible benefits for residents. One example would be a turn lane for residents along Newport Way where we’ve had significant development. We must also improve the intermodal options within the city, like the construction of a safe pedestrian pathway along West Lake Sammamish Parkway. For larger projects, our role is to collaborate with neighboring cities and advocate for funding that would help Issaquah, including improvements to Interstate 90, Interstate 405, state Route 18, and state Route 900. Issaquah’s scheduled to have a Sound Transit station in 2041. When selecting the station location, we should select a spot on I-90, and include another resident-friendly undercrossing in the design. To help encourage use of mass transit, I propose that we create a targeted commuter shuttle service during peak commute times from neighborhoods to existing transit centers. We could start with the Highlands and Talus and revise routes to meet demand. We need to be realistic about the current and future demands on our roadways and continually think of creative solutions to address our residents’ top concern.
How do you balance development and growth against maintaining the town’s current character?
de Michele: I support the city’s Central Issaquah plan and proposed amendments to the Olde Town area plan to further protect the “small town” feel of Issaquah. New development would locate to the west, away from Olde Town. I also support the city’s affordable housing workplan, which encourages compatible in-filling with “mother-in-law” housing and attachments. To maintain the town’s current character, my top priority is increased affordable and workforce housing. Land use is the specific purview of city government – it is what we must do right to succeed as families, workers and businesses. It defines our quality of living – what we love about living here. The key to those challenges now is to diversify our housing stock. To ensure we attract the best-qualified people to live and work here, our land use must offer a variety of cost and size options, attractive to all ages and incomes, and which respects and lets us enjoy the environment surrounding the city. Finding the finances, the home-builders, the right land and public support is a tall order, but it is the most important work your City Hall can accomplish to keep Issaquah the warm and welcoming place we call home.
Flood: My philosophy: I am supportive of the Central Issaquah plan — to focus our future growth in Central Issaquah, close to transit and to preserve our existing neighborhoods and forested hillsides. Whenever possible, we need to protect our remaining green space. Once these areas are developed, there is no going back. We want to work with developers that want to be a partner in our community. My policy proposals: We should update the building code to eliminate the provision that any single-family plot outside of the Central Issaquah growth boundary can be developed as a duplex. This provision was added before Talus and the Highlands were built, and before the Central Issaquah plan. The CIP includes a ton of community input and we should respect that. In order to ensure development pays its fair share, we should conduct an impact fee study every two years. Multifamily units are generating more residents, students and car trips than estimated, and construction costs continue to increase every year. As any new construction is now adjacent to existing homes and businesses, we should implement a “developer code of conduct” that addresses issues like noise, parking and proper notice of impacts.