Below are the questions and responses sent to Victoria Woodards, candidate for Tacoma City Council position.
The questions being asked to Tacoma City Council candidates this year from the Tacoma Sun are very specific and address such issues as the Winthrop Hotel, Parking Requirements, Tacoma Streetcars, and Felon Dumping Ground Issues.
1) Jail releases
Question: 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 releases to the places where they were arrested or where they live when their sentence ends?
2) Growth management
Question: Over the last 30 years, Pierce County has been known 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 and the relatively low rate of investment in Tacoma?
Answer: When I was a kid I remember driving 15 minutes out of town and feeling like I was in the country. The trip to Northwest Trek used to seem like a true adventure. Today, the trip to Northwest Trek is not the same. Tacoma has built out. I see the effects of sprawl and I want to preserve the attributes that make Tacoma and Pierce County so rich. I support development and opportunities for people to LIVE in high density areas. I believe that mixed use and high density centers create great opportunities for sustainability. I will work to create incentives for high density and mixed use centers.
3) Pierce County Felon Dumping Ground Issues
Question: 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 in Tacoma be reduced to the citys pro-rata share?
Answer: Tacoma does not deserve to be the dumping ground for released felons. I dont believe we deserve more than our fair share and I support legislation such as SB 6157 (2007-2008) which sought to change provisions of offenders who left confinement. Joint efforts with the Department of Corrections (DOC), local law enforcement, and state and local elected officials will be imperative. The strength of these collaborations can help examine statistics and determine our fair share. I will continue to work with the state legislators to create laws prohibiting more than our fair share of felons in Tacoma.
3) Restoration of Winthrop Hotel
Question: A great many Tacomans would like to see the Winthrop Hotel restored as Spokane has restored the Davenport Hotel.
What is your position on this issue? Do you support the goal of restoring the Winthrop Hotel back into a hotel as the News Tribune and others have advocated?
What ideas do you have to make this goal of many Tacomans a reality?
Answer: I have visited the Davenport Hotel in Spokane and I recognize the value of this kind of historical landmark. Tacoma deserves to have a similar treasure in our community. Where funds are available I support the restoration of this hotel. In these tough economic times continued exploration of public/private partnerships will be the best way to make this goal a reality.
4) Rebuilding Tacoma
Question: 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 Tacoma take, if you are elected, to support the rebuilding of downtown Tacoma and Tacomas mixed use centers?
Answer: I remember when Downtown Tacoma had a department store & restaurants and few, if any, vacant buildings. I understand and have a real commitment to returning Downtown Tacoma to the place I remember. As a convener Id pull together resources to devise and implement a plan to turn Downtown Tacoma into the place it used to be.
5) Building Walkable Neighborhood Centers and Downtown
Cities such as Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, and San Francisco have removed their off-street parking requirements to allow parking to be built based on market demand. This also has the benefit of reducing sprawl, reducing pollution and allowing the construction of walkable neighborhoods.
Do you support removing the off-street parking requirement in downtown Tacoma and in Tacomas mixed use centers?
Answer: Yes. Building walk-able neighborhoods creates successful opportunities to restore downtown and enhance our business districts into safer, greener, urban communities to be enjoyed by families, shoppers, tourists, cyclists, and diverse groups from the city.
6) Restoring Tacomas Streetcars
Question: Many Tacomans support restoring Tacomas streetcar system. Gas prices have recently been at record levels. Do you support restoring the streetcar network in Tacoma? What steps would be needed to be taken to make this happen?
Answer: Yes. Sustainability comes from creating convenience. I believe streetcars are an opportunity to create transportation in areas that lack convenience. Public/private partnerships with Pierce County Transit, Sound Transit, as well as other transit organizations are key in the successful restoration of the streetcar network.
7) Pollution Issues in Tacoma
Question: Parts of the City of Tacoma are currently failing the pollution criteria set by the State of Washington. What actions will you take if elected, if any, to reduce the pollution level in the city limits of Tacoma?
Answer: The Green Climate Taskforce has made recommendation to keep the City of Tacoma green and more sustainable. To reduce the pollution level in Tacoma my plan would include utilizing the aforementioned recommendations in collaboration with the expertise of the Office of Sustainability to work toward finding new and innovative means to address this issue.
VIII) Crime Reduction Proposal by City Manager Eric Anderson
Question: City Manager Eric Anderson has set a goal to reduce crime in Tacoma by 50 percent in 14 months. What specific steps, if any, will you take if elected to reduce the crime rate in Tacoma?
Answer: In an effort to reduce the crime rate I would employ professionals in law enforcement who can research and explain reasonable endeavors toward reduction of crime and the increase of safety. Neighborhood watch groups and organizations such as Safe Streets will be paramount in