LETTER: Burien City Council Candidate Joey Martinez Responds To Bob Edgar

There are several things I feel are wrong or ignored with Mr. Edgar’s letter (read it here). First, there is no alternative offered. Instead, all I read is blaming and rebuking, how about solutions?

Secondly, Mr. Edgar ignores several issues on “contracts” and costs. Seattle provides its own General and levy funded fire and police department. It also provides its own Housing Authority (Seattle Housing Authority) and Library system. Public Safety in Seattle is allocated about 58% of Seattle’s General Fund alone. Seattle Public Library uses about 1%-2% . About the same for the Seattle Housing Authority.

Burien dedicates about 43% of its budget to Public Safety. Whether our own police department would be cheaper or more expensive is debate-able and I am open to it. Certainly initial costs will be high, but longer term we would be able to negotiate our own contract with the Police Guild if we have our own police department.

If we stay with King County Sheriffs office, I would push to keep those deputies assigned to Area Y on the County’s dime for at least the duration of Guild’s contract. If we don’t annex, they have to pay anyway. If we annex, they save in other ways.

In regards to the tax rate in Burien: As a Seattle City Employee, I strongly believe we provide a higher quality of life to our citizens than Seattle does, overall. I would work to dedicate more money to Parks and Recreation, but that discussion is for another time. If we decide to charge ourselves more in taxes for a better life, that is our decision. It is one I am proud of, personally.

In Regard to Contracting services: I do believe that city workers are more efficient, and better able to care for our city than any contract agency can. They develop institutional knowledge and are better able to care for the city in the long term, at cheaper rates, than contracting out those services ever will be. However, I believe that many of the “contracted services” Burien would provide for White Center are in the areas of public and mental health, as well as other services uniquely required by Area Y. Over time, with the proper investments those services would be able to go away.

In Regards to the Crime rate: The crime in Area Y does not stay in Area Y. It leaks to Seattle and to our northern Burien residents by crossing that invisible line. If Area Y stays unincorporated or joins Seattle, I feel nothing will be done and the area will continue to be neglected.

I feel annexing Area Y and investing in the youth and young adults with more focused parks and recreation will lower the crime rates, over time. Studies have consistently shown that investing in our youth, in part with better Parks and Recreation has the effect of integrating these individuals into the community and making them prosper. When they prosper, we prosper on so many levels. They pay taxes, they have kids, they buy houses, and groceries. They go out to dinner, and join soccer leagues. Studies also show that ignoring youth only leads to crime. Instead of helping our youth succeed we will be paying for 3 hots and a cot. It will take 10 years or so, but in the long term, I feel it will be the cheapest, most cost effective solution. I have much more to say on this issue, but don’t want to deflect on my response to this letter.

In Regards to Severe Infrastructure problems: Yes, that area has been neglected for decades by King County. It has served as a dumping ground for lower income people with little political clout. When is the last time low incoming housing was built in Bellevue?

I would push for more concessions from King County. They are playing a serious poker game with us and have been unblinking in their poker face. However, I feel they are just holding their cards close and trying to get as cheap a deal as possible. There are areas I know we can probe. We can ask for more from King County, areas they are willing or able to cave-into Burien in exchange for annexing Area Y. Long term, they see it as a savings and would be willing if we only ask. Many of these concessions will help off-set the infrastructure neglect that has occurred for decades.

Additionally, these fixes will take time as it is impossible to do all of the required work at once even if we had a dedicated $77 million in the bank. We will be able to plan for and schedule this work over many years if not a decade. The roads in the area are bad for sure, however, they’re nicer and less bone jarring than Seattle, overall.

With the $50 million the State of Washington is offering in Sales Tax we can accomplish the most critical needs right away. I would push for a portion of that to invest in Parks and Recreation for Area Y and the rest of Burien to begin the process investing in youth instead of incarcerating youth.

In Regards to Area Y costing more than the extra $5 million a year from the State: I do not agree with this statement. The cost to Burien’s General fund (SFD, Library, Housing) will not be there. King County is trying to dump area Y on Burien, but I believe we can get a better deal than what is on the table from them. I believe there is enough available to make it worth Burien’s while, if we ask for and fight for the right things from King County. I believe I am that person to lead this fight.

In Regards to the 10 year sales tax running out: If we invest properly in infrastructure, quality of life and our youth I believe Burien will be far better off than we are today. The $50 million will be a jumping off point to bigger and greater things for Burien and Area Y residents.

In regards to the general concern of reports to the Council and never quite showing up as explained by Mr. Edgar; that is an issue. I would push for increased accountability to all citizens of Burien. It’s your money, you’re paying for it, and you get what you want if I am elected.

There is a lot of rhetoric on both sides of Annexation, however, I feel that short and long term Annexation is the right thing to do for both Burien and Area Y. If elected, I will use my “insider knowledge” to probe and ask for the right consessions from King County.

Area Y is separated by an invisible line from Burien. They have been neglected by King County for decades and yet, they are not doing so bad. In fact, I would say they are thriving! In 10 to 20 years, whomever ultimately annexes Area Y will be glad they did. Let’s use this window to annex before Seattle takes it and continues what King County started decades ago. It can only help the rest of Burien.

If you’re wondering what separates me from Mr. Shaw on annexation, as previously stated, it is the insider knowledge some of the cards King County is hoping we don’t look at. In addition, I wish to invest in the future of Burien by targeting money to the right areas to lower crime and increase youth who are productive members of society.

What separates me from both candidates is that I have experience in taking policy set by Council and enabling and enacting those wishes, successfully. If elected, I will use this knowledge to increase efficiencies and either get more bang for your tax payer buck or lower costs.

– Joey Martinez
Martinez for Burien City Council
Candidate for City Council Pos. #4

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