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Survey says: Thomas Gill offers views on Langley issues
The Record is surveying candidates for the city council in the 2011 election. Thomas Gill responds to the Record's candidate survey with his take on sidewalks vs. walking trails, the number of council meetings he might miss, the mayor's salary and more.
Thomas Gill Bio
Has previously sought elected and appointed position on council. Seeking election to Position 4 (four-year term) against R. Bruce Allen and Jonathon Moses. The top two will advance to the General Election in November.
Education: Computer Engineering at Kettering Univeristy (degree pending thesis).
Occupation: Technical Support Specialist at Whidbey Telecom.
Volunteer work: Two years as IT Specialist at the city of Langley; volunteers at various local events.
Campaign website: http://langley.tegianzone.com.
What specific ideas do you have for improving Langley's economy?
"Reduce fees to entry into Langley's marketplace, be that by a break on the first-year's business license, or pro-rating the business license, or lower water/sewer hook-up fees and base rates, with higher per-gallon fees, so those who use less water actually see it reflected in their bills, and those that use more pay their fair share."
Should decisions of Langley's hearing examiner be subject to appeal to the city council?
"Any appeals on rulings from the hearings examiner should have to go to court. If appeals were to come to the council, there wouldn't be much sense in hiring a hearings examiner. The hearings examiner is supposed to dispassionately look at the law and render judgement. The council needs to make sure that the law is explicit in its purpose, and not to assume that someone else will understand the meaning of vague language."
Unless the current salary structure for the mayor is changed, the next elected mayor in Langley will be paid an annual salary of $53,000, which cannot be lowered during the mayor's four-year term.
Should the city council revisit the issue of the mayor's salary?
"Yes. There is no need for the extra expense for the city or Larry that him having to return the salary would entail."
How much should the mayor be paid annually?
"$25,000, with the ability to have that raised if the mayor choses to work 'full-time,' and hires a less than half-time assistant."
How many hours a week do you expect to devote your work on the council?
"I expect to schedule 10-14 hours a week to do council work, with any other free time being used for council work when necessary."
Langley's Parks and Open Space Commission has pushed for a network of walking trails through Langley, and there has also been support for biking lanes in the village. Which should be a greater priority for the city — installing sidewalks in neighborhoods that currently lack sidewalks, or establishing new walking trails and bike lanes?
"I would like to see proper sidewalks, preferably installed along with storm water and sanitary sewer services throughout many segments of the city, along with curbs installed along the existing 'shoulder' sidewalks to prevent vehicles from entering the designated sidewalk. Only after that work is finished would I want to see city maintained trails developed.
I don't think that traffic volumes and speeds in downtown Langley warrant bike lanes, but I would support wider shoulders, possibly designated as bike lanes along Camano Avenue/Langley Raod, Sandy Point Road, Third Street/Brooks Hill Road/Coles Road as they are commonly used by cyclists, and the traffic along those routes is not usually bike (or pedestrian) friendly."
During the council's review of the 2011 budget, one council member said the city should consider contracting out for police services. Should Langley contract with Island County to provide police services, and decommission its police department?
"No. The county has its hands full with its own policing matters. I think Langley having its own police force is a valuable asset for the city, and the surrounding community.
Attendance at council meetings has been an issue over the past year. How many council meetings do you think you will not attend in person?
"One or two, but I will do my best to rearrange my schedule to accommodate the council schedule."
Should building heights be increased where water views will not be impacted?
"I see no reason to not increase building heights, if the market demands it."
Does the city need an ethics ordinance/policy that covers elected/appointed city officials?
"I believe the events of the last few years have shown us that the city needs an ethics ordinance."