Election Watch 2015 Q&A: Bryan Wahl, candidate for Mountlake Terrace City Council Candidate Position 5

Bryan Wahl
Bryan Wahl

NAME: Bryan Wahl

POSITION: Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember, Position 5

What will be your priorities as a City Councilmember?

We must maintain our efforts to attract business and economic development and continue to carefully set our tax and fiscal policy to deliver services necessary for community safety, provide quality recreational programs and maintain our roads and parks. As your City Councilmember, my priorities continue to include:

  • FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: Ensuring responsible and sustainable budgets that direct resources efficiently and effectively to achieve the city’s goals.
  • ECONOMIC VITALITY: Creating jobs and economic development opportunities by fostering a healthy business environment and adopting strategies that attract new business to our city.
  • QUALITY CITY SERVICES: Delivering services necessary for community safety, provide quality recreational programs and maintain our roads and parks.

The voters have turned down funding for a new City Hall a number of times. Should the voters be given another option to fund a new City Hall or should the City consider alternative plans/funding options? 

While a majority of voters have supported previous bond measures on two separate occasions to fund our civic center, the yes votes did not meet the 60 percent threshold needed to pass. Based on my conversations with citizens, coupled with feedback from community surveys and focus groups of residents, the public supports building a civic center. The voters did not vote against constructing and owning a new city hall. They voted against the measures because they believed the cost was too high. The City Council must follow a very deliberate process, reaching out to both supporters and opponents of the bond measures, to find common ground, develop a scaled back version of the project and move the City closer to achieving this key community objective.

I have been advocating for an advisory committee to provide recommendations for proceeding on City Hall. I am pleased the City Council has taken action to create the Civic Facilities Task Force to review the city’s capital facilities needs (city hall, police station, Rec pavilion, etc.) and recommend an appropriate path to construct and finance these facilities, including the size and cost of the projects, and how to pay for them. 

What can the City do to encourage businesses to locate in the City and in particular Town Center?

Economic development is a vital function for a healthy community. The city is implementing an Economic Vitality Strategy that will attract, retain and grow a diverse and stable economic base that supports needed goods, services and jobs for residents. An expanded tax base will allow the city to maintain services and lessen the tax burden on residents. The result will be a thriving and revitalized community that will increase residents’ shopping, housing, work, and activity choices.

Mountlake Terrace is viewed as a leader of economic development and infrastructure improvements. Our City has effectively laid the proper groundwork by adopting plans, strategies and policies for economic development, including the Economic Vitality Strategy, the Town Center Plan, and the Comprehensive Plan. We’ve adopted several incentives to encourage economic development in our city that I was able to lead as both a longtime member of the Planning Commission and City Councilmember.

In addition, the city continues to make effective investments to spur economic growth by identifying funding for infrastructure (roads, water and other utilities) needed for redevelopment and revitalization in our city. Further, we are making a concentrated effort to network and market our city to builders, developers and the business community. And, the City Council recently added the following Action Strategies to meet our goal to generate economic development throughout the community:

  • Implement the Economic Development Strategy (including our comprehensive plan action steps, market study, communication plan, etc.)
  • Create an Economic Vitality Task Force to facilitate economic growth and business opportunities and identify opportunities to advocate for business friendly policies (regulatory environment that is clear, predictable, and consistent; taxes; infrastructure; cultural mindset “open for business”; quality/responsive services; positive city image; cost of doing business, etc.)

Our efforts are paying off. The results speak for themselves; these policies are revitalizing the City’s downtown and spurring economic growth citywide. Despite the fragile economy, Mountlake Terrace has seen exceptional economic growth and hundreds of new jobs in the city. Our efforts to bring economic vitality must continue until we have fully achieved our vision for a revitalized Town Center and prosperous business climate throughout the city.

Attendance at City Council meetings can be relatively sparse at times. What would you do to increase citizen involvement in government?

Whether during City Council meetings or in our community, city government and officials must be accessible and responsive to citizen concerns. The City must continue to develop and implement effective communication with the community, including an outreach plan that informs and educates the public, increases awareness of city programs, promotes community participation, and updates the community on city issues and services. By utilizing a comprehensive approach of reaching out to citizens, such as holding Town Hall meetings and open house forums, providing the City Happenings newsletter, press releases, E-government, public information brochures, proactive media relations, utilizing the website and social media, conducting community surveys, and providing access to City Council meetings and materials online, the City is making government accessible. And, as City Councilmembers, we must continue to be visible in the community and actively seek input and feedback from the community in order to ensure our government is responsive to citizen concerns.

What do you like best about living in Mountlake Terrace?

I have lived my entire life in this area (born and raised in Shoreline, 18 years in Mountlake Terrace). I love everything our community has to offer. I have always appreciated living in our community’s quality neighborhoods surrounded by a beautiful environment while having easy access to major job centers and entertainment. This is a great area where we can enjoy living, working and playing.

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