Election 2021: Brier City Councilmember Marley addresses issues at candidates forum

Brier City Councilmember David Marley speaks during the virtual forum for candidates.

Candidates for Brier City Council Positions 3 and 5 recently participated in the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County’s virtual forum in advance of the Nov. 2, 2021 general election. All of the councilmembers on this year’s ballot were invited to participate in the forum and two did so.

Six of the Brier City Council positions are elected through non-partisan, citywide elections every two years to serve four-year staggered terms. There is also one elected council-at-large position that serves a two-year term. The councilmembers elect a mayor pro tem to serve a one-year term.

Council positions appointed on an interim basis that have more than two years left on the original term are automatically put on the ballot during the next regular election to fill the remainder of that term.

Councilmember David Marley is running for Position 5 after being selected by the council in August 2020 to fill the position on an interim basis when longtime councilmember Dale Kaemingk was appointed mayor of Brier. His opponent for the position is Susan Weldon, who did not participate in the recent candidates forum due to health reasons. The winner will be elected to serve the remaining unexpired two-year term of the position.

Opening and closing questions were shared with the candidates in advance of the forum. Other questions were not shared ahead of time, however each candidate was made aware of the issue areas that the forum was likely to cover. Beforehand, community members were able to submit recommendations of local issues and questions they’d like to be addressed.

Each candidate was given 60 seconds of response time to questions and 90 seconds were allotted for their answers to the forum’s final question. The candidates were given the first response to questions on a rotating basis.

Participants were first asked what qualifications and experience make them a strong candidate for the city council position.

Marley noted that in addition to being on the city council for a year, he has 18 years of experience serving on the City of Brier’s Planning Commission, several of those as its chair, which has left him “pretty well-versed in running public meetings and city business.”

He also pointed to six years of experience serving on a school commission, including four as its president. Marley said he has “organized and planned a number of renovation projects for our school and church,” which have included permitting, scheduling and financial aspects.

“I have over 25 years’ experience as an engineer and that includes not only designing but also assisting in contract negotiations, writing requests for proposals, developing schedules and budgets for projects, and working with international contractors and suppliers to develop new products,” Marley added. “I also have a commitment to volunteering in every community that I’ve ever been a part of.”

The candidates were then asked about the biggest issues facing Brier and what strengths it can call on to resolve them.

“I think our budget is a big concern, and our city’s budget by law can only grow 1% per year and that doesn’t keep up with inflation – especially the inflation we’re seeing right now,” Marley said. “So prioritizing spending and investigating new revenue streams is really important to us.”

He added that infrastructure is another key area. “We are doing a good job in trying to maintain our infrastructure, but we’re doing so with old equipment and we need to plan for the replacement of the equipment that our Public Works Department is using and that’s fairly expensive equipment.

Marley said, “We also have to allow for emergent items,” such as a recent issue with the pedestrian bridge that crosses Scriber Creek, “and when those things come up, we need to react quickly — and with a tighter budget it’s hard to do that.” Marley noted that he felt the city staff do a great job and are a strong resource that can be leveraged to help resolve such issues.

Participants were asked whether they thought 236th Street Southwest, which borders Brier and Mountlake Terrace, should be opened.

“We are already going to see a fair amount of traffic through our city with the development on about 50 houses on our eastern border in unincorporated Snohomish County,” Marley responded. “Managing traffic through our city is a big concern and having yet another path for people to take shortcuts, especially with the apartments that are along that road…is not a good idea and I do not support that at all.”

The candidates were queried on what options they would support to keep housing options affordable in Brier.

Marley said, “Housing is really a regional issue and it’s good to address that from a regional standpoint. However, for Brier itself there are some things that we can do for the issue of affordable housing and our growth management plan calls for the city to have a range of options for housing.” These include a recent state law that requires cities to allow for transitional housing, “and we have recently passed an ordinance to address that,” he said.

“So Brier accommodates secondary dwelling units, we allow Section 8 housing, we have rental units and these all provide options for those who may not be able to make the leap for homeownership,” he added. Additionally, “we have in passing discussed cottage housing for elderly homeowners that may want to leave their large house and move into something a little bit smaller — and I think that’s worth exploring.”

Candidates were asked if they support the creation of a dog park in the city and the reasons for their position.

Marley said that he has researched how other cities have handled dog parks, the standards published for those facilities and also “tried to gauge our parks for how something like that might fit in. And there’s a fair lack of space when put up against the standards that I’ve seen published.”

In addition, he said, “there is the concern around neighbors, that maybe some that are nearby would want it, but then they move out and the people who move in don’t want it and it’s difficult to find a space that would make everybody happy.” Marley noted there are a number of available dog parks in surrounding communities including Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds and Bothell. “I just don’t unfortunately see how we can fit one in our park,” he added.

The candidates were asked about their strategies for working productively with city council colleagues and members of the public whose ideas and/or life experiences are different from their own.

Marley noted, “The different experiences that people have are welcome in our meetings and they really help to liven up the meetings and give us new ideas, fresh ideas. We’re not at all under the impression that we know the answers to everything.”

He added that he often reaches out by phone or in person to follow up with citizens who have provided input so he can “talk to them about whatever concerns they have so we can have a dialogue…and I can educate myself better” about their concerns. “I think just having that that really open honest communication and civil dialogue with everybody will help us resolve whatever issues come up,” Marley said.

Each candidate was asked whether they believe that City of Brier’s current levels of staffing for its police department are adequate, their reasons for those thoughts, and if not, then how might the city pay for additional policing.

Marley responded, “I could say that our current level of staffing is not adequate, and I could say that because we’re contracting with the Snohomish County sheriff’s department so clearly we do need to hire some more officers and I know that the mayor and council is working hard to do that and it looks very promising.

“That said, we do experience high turnover and Brier’s not necessarily a place for a career and so we tend to see folk rotate through – so we always have to be proactive to recruit officers,” he added. “Pay is a portion of that and it’s not everything, but we are aware that pay is more competitive than it used to be and we have discussed how we can entice folks into our police department and that’s being addressed as well.”

Both candidates were asked about the most pressing environmental issues the city currently faces and their proposals to address those.

Marley said he has long been concerned about environmental issues and added “it’s important to know that most environmental regulations are passed at a federal or state level and the city has to write ordinances that support those regulations. But we are all responsible for the environment at the local level as well and the council has taken steps to encourage this.”

As an example, he said he has heard concerns from residents about the loss of trees. “Within Brier we have a strong tree ordinance that requires the replacement of trees lost to development,” Marley said. In addition, the city council earlier this year passed a recommended tree voucher program wherein the city can provide vouchers to help offset the costs of tree planting and replacement.

Finally, each candidate was asked for any additional issues or information they would like to bring to the community’s attention.

Marley replied he would like to address “the issue of change,” noting “that just over a year ago about 20 citizens filed to fill a vacancy on our council and after careful consideration the council selected me to fill that position. I’m very honored by that choice, but at the same time our city government has undergone a tremendous amount of change,” including a new mayor and three new councilmembers,” he added.

“We’re going to welcome a fourth councilmember to replace one who is not running for reelection,” he said, “so we’re just seeing a huge change at City Hall and I think that after that change it’s good to have a period of stability where we all connect at a government level and work to improve the city.

“I believe that the experience and knowledge that I’ve accumulated has really helped ensure a smooth transition during this time and I’ve been impressed with the city staff, our mayor and other councilmembers – I think we all work well together,” Marley concluded. “I’m very grateful to have their endorsement for this election and I really look forward to continuing to serve the city and its citizens.”

The League of Women Voters of Snohomish County is a nonpartisan organization. Its candidate forums are virtual and pre-recorded. Audio recordings of the forums are available here and video recordings can be viewed here.

Councilmember Mike Gallagher, who is running unopposed for Position 3, also participated in the virtual forum.

Additional Brier City Councilmembers who will be on the election ballot include John Lockhart for Position 1, Martin Krienke for Position 2, Valerie Rosman for Position 4, and Donald (Don) Moran for the Council-at-Large Position. All of these candidates are running unopposed for those positions.

Councilmembers Rosman and Lockhart will be elected to serve the remaining unexpired two-year term of their positions after both were appointed on an interim basis last year following the resignations of Kerin Steele and Robert Thorpe. John Joplin, who currently serves in the Council-at-Large Position, is not seeking reelection.

— By Nathan Blackwell

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