Editors Note: November elections are almost upon us. Today, the Tacoma Sun posts questions submitted to Ken Paulson who is running for Pierce County District No. 4. His opponent is Tim Farrell, the incumbent.
Pierce County District No. 4 is especially important for Tacoma as it includes downtown Tacoma.
1) Jail releases
The media has reported that the Pierce County Jail currently releases nearly all of the people who have been arrested in Pierce county into downtown Tacoma even if they are arrested in Orting or a remote area of the county. Would you support a plan which would transport some or all of the jail releasees to the places where they were arrested or where they live when their sentence ends?
Answer: I am for this. I would suggest offering incentives, such as being released a day or two early, if family, relatives or friends were responsible for picking up the released offender and providing the transportation instead of Pierce County footing the transportation bill.
2) Growth management
Over the last 30 years, Pierce County has been know for suburban sprawl which has caused the loss of farmland, pollution, traffic congestion and disinvestment in Tacoma.
If you are elected, how will you address the effects of sprawl and growth management in Pierce County? How would that plan be different, if at all, from what is in place now?
Answer: We can’t undo what has already happened. Therefore we must move forward. With the high price of fuel, people may no longer want to live in the far regions of Pierce County unless their place of employment is located nearby.
People with large lots in Pierce County should be able to short-plat and have a building site(s) in their back yard. This would increase the density where there are already houses. Community plans need to be re-evaluated for addressing the community’s specific needs.
3) Pierce County Felon “Dumping Ground” Issues
As you know, Tacoma and Pierce County have a disproportionate number of released felons placed by the Department of Corrections as described in the Tacoma City Club report: 30 Years of DOC in Pierce County, Was It Worth It?
If elected, what do you plan to do, if anything to reduce the number of felons placed in Tacoma and Pierce County? Do you agree that Tacoma and Pierce County should have no more than their pro-rata share based on population? How can the concentration of felons be reduced to its pro-rata share?
Answer: I absolutely believe that Tacoma and Pierce County should not have more than their pro-rata share of released felons. Why should Tacoma and Pierce County be the dumping ground? They should be required to be located in the county of offense. I would advocate for this to happen.
4) Elks Temple
A great many Tacomans would like to see the Elks Temple restored. There have been plans discussed to possibly turn part of the building into a transit station.
What is your position on this issue? What plan would you support?
Answer: It is not the mandate, function or responsibility of Pierce Transit to restore the Elks Temple. If they didn’t plan the transit station correctly the first time, are we having the same people plan the next transit station and ending up with same results?
5) Rebuilding Tacoma
Despite the progress made, Tacoma still has a large number of vacant lots, and empty and blighted buildings relative to other west coast cities. What role can you and Pierce County take, if you are re-elected, to support the rebuilding of downtown Tacoma and Tacoma’s mixed use centers.
Answer: Downtown Tacoma has a great potential future. I would gladly work with the City of Tacoma to attract new businesses and retain the existing business. However, right now, and into the near future, money is going to be really tight for Pierce County. In fact, most likely there will be employment reductions. If this requires Pierce County General Fund budget money, there will be a line-up of requests.
6) Arts and Community
What artistic events in Tacoma do you enjoy and which ones have you attended?
Answer: I have attended the 6th Avenue Arts Festival and the Proctor Arts Fair. My wife enjoys the arts and people – and I enjoy my wife, so we attend these together.
7) Restoring Tacoma’s Streetcars
Many Tacomans support restoring Tacoma’s streetcar system. Gas prices are now at record levels. Pierce County plays a large role in transportation systems in Tacoma. Do you support restoring the streetcar network in Tacoma? What steps would need to be taken to make this happen?
Answer: This is public vote issue. My opinion is that buses are more versatile and able to accommodate more transportation needs.
VIII) Pollution Issues in Tacoma
The City of Tacoma is currently failing the pollution criteria set by the State of Washington. What role can Pierce County play to reduce pollution in the city limits of Tacoma?
Answer: I don’t have an answer to this, but will listen to ideas and plans.
9) Crime Reduction Proposal by City Manager Eric Anderson
City Manager Eric Anderson has set a goal to reduce crime in Tacoma by 50 percent in 14 months. Given the predominant role Pierce County plays on the criminal justice system, what steps will you support the County government in taking so that the City of Tacoma can succeed?
Answer: I would advocate for harsher penalties for predators, rapists, and other life-demeaning acts of violence. Another thought could be for both Tacoma and Pierce County to send illegal immigrants back to their country of origin as police and the criminal justice system encounter them.