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Survey says: Kathleen Waters offers views on Langley issues

Kathleen Waters, candidate for Langley Council Position 3. - Brian Kelly / The Record
Kathleen Waters, candidate for Langley Council Position 3.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

Kathleen Waters Bio

Previously has sought position on council. Seeking Position 3 (four-year short and full term) against Robin Adams and Jim Sundberg. The top two will advance to the General Election in November.

Age: 74

Education: BS, MEd, Seattle University.

Occupation: Retired professor, author and consultant in the healthcare industry.

Volunteer: Work with elderly homebound; pre-school tutoring.

Email: k.waters.riehl@gmail.com.

 

Survey questions

 

What specific ideas do you have for improving Langley’s economy?

"By promoting appropriate growth following zoning codes to in-fill areas in the city, we can directly impact opportunities for new businesses and welcome new residents who are the reasons a city exists. As the only city on the South End we must see our role as a center for commerce that includes housing and jobs that are not reliant on ferry travel. Families of all ages must feel Langley is a reliable investment for a home and a place that will provide services, shopping for everyday needs and stable school enrollment.

The Langley City Council can lead, working with Island County, and the Port of South Whidbey to find ways that we can make economic growth happen in manageable ways. All of these entities have economic elements in their comprehensive plans. The development of 'green' light industry is a prime aim of mine that I believe will bring relief to our economic plight. It will not happen overnight. We need a strategic plan, not a shotgun approach. For instance, there may be some kind of incentives we can discover to make our industrial zones attractive to businesses.

I would endeavor to work together with the expertise of economic development professionals from Island County, Washingon state, and the Port of South Whidbey. Together, we can identify viable investment opportunities for clean, green businesses that are compatible with an ecologically sensitive island site.  One of our goals rounded out with guidelines and a timeline should be to bring in one or two light industries in the next few years that will provide payrolls so that those who want to live and work here can rely on local jobs.

The City of Langley and the Port of South Whidbey have mutually beneficial goals: to collaborate in every way possible to redevelop the Wharf Street marina and adjacent area in order to develop economic activity.

We must work harder and smarter to boost our tourism now that the state has defunded the state tourism department. The council could lead an effort whose objective is to build a Langley brand. For example, New England has successfully created an image as a coastal region where lobster delicacies are available in every village and town. Their lobster. Why not our crab? The goal is to create an image of Langley as a destination for fresh crab. We’d like the public to associate restaurants serving crab dishes, grocery stores selling crab and ordinary folks crabbing on Saratoga Straits as the image they associate with Langley. Building a brand for Langley as a seaport would compliment and enhance its current image as a center for the arts and community that offers a variety of accommodations for overnight visitors.

To assure water safety, how about an annual salmon derby, and annual clam bake that features live music, derbies for sports fisherman, annual sail boat regattas, kayak, canoe and other watercraft races or exhibitions at the Seawall Park beach area or where safety is not an issue on the Wharf Street beach area?  Established restaurants would get a boost from this enterprise. We might even see the Old Dog come back wagging his tail.

As an elected council member my energy would definitely include focused work to regenerate a century old waterfront to bring 21st century vibrancy and revenue resource to the Village By the Sea including Wharf Street and the Seawall Park area, an under-developed asset on the Langley waterfront.

As an administrator who has handled large accounts I understand budgets, and the need to develop robust revenue streams. We cannot spend money we do not have, nor can we simply tax our property owners and businesses for more and more. Langley has everything it needs to be a small, friendly city that we all can be proud of, and enjoy."

 

Should decisions of Langley's hearing examiner be subject to appeal to the city council?

"No. An appeal to the city council negates the whole purpose of having a hearing examiner. A hearing examiner becomes part or the process because he or she brings neutrality, professional credentials as an experienced attorney and specialized expertise in land use negotiations. No city council member or group can compete with this level of competence and expertise."

 

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, I believe it should. We are in a very interesting period right now with Prop. 1 on the ballot and two council seats being contested. The mayoral prospect has stated he does not want the $53,000 salary that is on the books but is seeking to find ways around having to accept that amount. I believe before the newly electeds take office after the November election, the council should revisit the mayoral salary issue."

 

How much should the mayor be paid annually?

"If elected, I’d suggest $30,000."

 

How many hours a week do you expect to devote your work on the council?

"As many hours or days as it takes. Preparation for council meetings to facilitate thorough discussion of agenda items requires research and thought. Discussions with constituents about issues of their interest is paramount. To prepare an initiative for other council members to consider, I will need to have enough background data and information to support my suggestions or concepts that I want others to consider.

These activities all take time and as a retired individual who already spends many hours observing, pro-actively participating and writing about city business I will continue to spend as much time as it takes until I think Langley is solidly on its feet."

 

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?

"To maintain our status as a city we should place sidewalks and paved streets ahead of trails.  Sidewalks provide a safe and stable surface for all walkers, disabled and abled. By walking around the city we can see the need for these usual accommodations. By placing them in the budget we can assure they get accomplished.

Bike lanes are something we should consider when the more pressing traffic issues are met. Biking is healthy for humans and the environment. Once we meet our needs for safe and stable surfaced sidewalks and streets we should address biking issues.

On Whidbey Island with its large park holdings and available trails a city the size of Langley does not have an urgent need to develop a vast network of trails."

 

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?

"During that discussion, Chief Herzberg provided data that indicated that there would be an increase in expenditure to contract with Island County Sheriff’s Department in comparison to the city police department budgeted funds. As one who joined that conversation I believe we need to review the economic impact of outsourcing of any city service.

But money is just one issue – does the community want to keep the police department because of its advantages as a local unit and familiarity with the residents?  And is this seen as an important advantage that has equal weight with expenditures? As a budget matter the issue warrants periodic review to make sure we are making a prudent choice about a city law enforcement entity versus an outsourced service that satisfies both monetary and community needs."

 

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?

"I plan to attend all meetings. I have a track record of excellent attendance as a resident. I don’t anticipate reducing attendance if elected. I believe its incumbent on a council member to attend all meetings unless there is an emergency or a very occasional request to be absent for a single meeting, and of course, an annual vacation that won’t exceed two successive council meetings."

 

Should building heights be increased where water views will not be impacted?

"An increase in building heights was recently brought out by Paul Schell at a PAB meeting. He suggested 65 feet instead of the current 35 feet for buildings that would not obstruct water views.  However there may be other views that are significant, i.e. the Cascade Mountains are visible from many buildings and those views could be reduced or eliminated by the 65-foot elevation. There is also the question of scale in a given site or neighborhood from existing trees, other buildings and site specific location such as a bluff, open field, etc. So, I believe the issue is not just water views.

There should be a consideration of increased building height that includes a discussion and solution that values mountain and water views and overall scale of the specific environment of the site. In the commercial zoned areas, 65-feet would increase the opportunity for increased occupancy and potential city revenue. We should definitely go in the direction of increased elevation to 65 feet especially if there is no decrease in the mountain and waters views of existing buildings and limit this to the commercially zoned areas as a first phase of height elevation. With time, an elevation of increased footage for residential dwellings can be addressed if the community or planners deem it appropriate to consider."

 

Does the city need an ethics ordinance/policy that covers elected/appointed city officials?

"Yes, for sure. We all benefit by knowing what is expected regarding ethical standards and the elected/appointed city officials should welcome this with open arms as it’s a public and vetted guideline if they need to make decisions that will have an ethical impact on them or the city."

 

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