NAME: Laura Sonmore
POSITION: Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember, Position 6
What makes you the most qualified of the candidates to serve on the Mountlake Terrace City Council?
- Prudent fiscal management
- Noticeable street and sidewalk improvements
- Supporting public safety and environmental issues
- Funding for youth and senior activities
- Ongoing park improvements
- Improved communication with increased City newsletters, new city website, and online Council meetings
- Helped garner the first-ever federal earmark
- Lobbied in Washington DC & Olympia
- Current Mayor Pro Tem
- Snohomish County Cities & Towns VP
- Serve on City Finance Committee and Liaison to Arts Commission
- Working with Federal & State Legislators to Secure Grant Funding
- Past Police Board President
- Graduate Mountlake Terrace High School
- BA Degree in Law and Justice
- Advanced Certified Municipal Leadership
- Citizens’ Police Academy Graduate
Endorsed by: IAFF Local 1828 Fire Fighters
If elected, what would be your priorities as a City Councilmember?
I ask for your support to give back to our community the experience I have gained while spending a lifetime in Mountlake Terrace and serving on the City Council for the past seven years.
While on the City Council, I have been dedicated to improving the quality of life for our citizens. I have a strong understanding of local values and the challenges we face in the future.
I recognize the importance of maintaining the City’s fiscal health by balancing quality of life with economic vitality to keep taxes in check and maintain services for the safety and enjoyment of our community.
My record shows that I have also been a proponent of protecting our environment and considering our children’s futures when making key decisions.
During my tenure on the City Council and because of my fiscal experience and expertise, the City has been able to maintain its fiscal integrity second to none.
Our City was one of the very few cities in the State that did not have to cut or reduce services or layoff staff during the recent economic crisis that began in 2008.
We have been recognized by independent third party financial experts for our financial integrity such as the State Auditor’s Office, Government Finance Officers Association and Standard & Poor’s, who have assigned an AA (double A) bond rating to the City, which is extremely rare for a City of our size, reflecting our excellent financial stewardship.
Again, reflecting our excellent financial stewardship.
For the last decade and a half, we have maintained our reserves; equaling 12 percent of our General Fund operating revenues, which is consistent with our adopted financial policies.
Note (My opponent doesn’t have his facts correct): Reserves and ending fund balances are not the same; reserves are part of ending fund balances, which will fluctuate over time. Also part of the ending fund balance are funds designated for specific purposes, mostly one time capital investment projects. For example, when the City issues bonds or when large projects are going through the design and planning phase, a municipalities’ ending fund balance, exclusive of reserves will grow until it is drawn down when the projects are built and completed. Though we always maintain a reserve of 12 percent.
I have been very successful in partnering with our neighbors and our state and federal delegations to obtain a number of grants for a number of road, sidewalk and park improvements. In just the past few years, I have been successful in obtaining more than $12 million for a number of these projects.
One under construction is the Lakeview Trail, which I have been an ardent supporter of. This project is funded mostly with state and federal monies with but a small contribution from the City.
We are also partnering with our neighbor the City of Edmonds to rebuild a part of Lakeview Drive that is funded solely with grants I was able to advocate for. (via Puget Sound Regional Council)
We were also very successful working with our state delegation this past year to secure $1.5 million to help finance improvements in our Town center, specifically 236th and 56th.
And while we have some way to go to obtain full funding, this is a significant achievement for our City and a reflection of how we are able to leverage our limited resources to accomplish great things for Mountlake Terrace.
I will continue to focus on maintaining strong city finances as we have during my tenure in office; public safety; economic development; jobs; safe neighborhoods; and the protection of our environment such as Lake Ballinger Park.
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?
Why do we need a new civic center? The old facility suffered a ceiling collapsed that exposed asbestos in the 48 years old building.
Why does the city need a voter-approved bond to pay for the Civic Center? Most city revenues (82 percent) are legally restricted and cannot be used to fund the Civic Center construction. Another 9 percent is dedicated to legal mandates, public safety contracts and asset management.
A citizen committee will be formed to view alternative plans and funding options for Civic Center. The City Council and the citizens committee will be seeking input from the community about a Civic Center. The citizen committee will identify financing options and alternatives including potential private partnerships.
What can the City do to encourage businesses to locate in the City and in particular Town Center?
A strong economy helps take much of the burden of maintaining programs and services off the shoulders of residents as revenues are produced from other sources. The number of new businesses in our city over the past few years shows a positive trend in increased revenue resources. We have adopted new polices and developers see the incentive to build in our city. The city has marketed to medical companies due to our proximity to Swedish Hospital. New businesses include: Gene Juarez Academy, Snohomish Pie Company, and Diamond Knot restaurant, Brighton School, and many more. To minimize the impact to residential areas, the City is encouraging businesses in the Freeway/Tourist district area and is looking to extend the roadway known as Gateway Boulevard.
Attendance at City Council meetings can be relatively sparse at times. What would you do to increase citizen involvement in government?
I will continue to provide quality public services to our citizens: Such as, well maintained parks, our award winning pool, street improvements, construction of sidewalks, improved communication with our citizens through our newsletters, special meetings for citizens to talk with council members and city staff, update website, increased public safety we have accomplished all of this and more while maintaining a balance budget.
There were many citizens who regularly attended community meetings when we were planning a new Town Center. In fact, Mountlake Terrace was the winner of a Citizen Involvement Award from the Washington State Chapter of the American Planning Association to recognize the City’s Town Center planning process.
What do you like best about living in Mountlake Terrace?
Also, my classmates from Mountlake Terrace High School (Established Life Long friendships)
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