Puyallup infrastructure a priority for Hopkins, Glucoft

Government: Candidates for city council say their backgrounds make them right for job

of the HeraldOctober 23, 2013 

Incumbent John Hopkins and newcomer Corry Glucoft are running for the District 1, Position 2 seat on the Puyallup City Council, and both believe an ongoing challenge is the city’s infrastructure maintenance.

As the general election approaches on Nov. 5, here are some of their thoughts regarding Puyallup:

Puyallup Herald: What experience do you have that makes you the right choice for Puyallup City Council?

John Hopkins: Experience is the key word. This is very important when you consider that the new council will have only one person with more than two years’ tenure. I bring two years and a lifetime of relevant experience. My work history has been diverse, starting with teaching math and physics back in England. Later on in Alaska, I was an electrical instructor with the electricians’ union. These jobs were valuable for learning how to communicate.

For negotiating skills, I draw on my time as a business agent. This was as tough a job as you will find. More recently, I owned and operated Diamond Electric, employing an average of 10 people. I did this for 17 years before moving on to property management.

For the last 18 years, I have been deeply involved in the community through numerous organizations. I have been president of Puyallup Main Street Association and chairman of Pierce County Landmarks Commission. I am now on the hatchery board, the Pierce County Flood Control Zone Advisory Board, the Community Grants Committee and the longest serving director of Puyallup Main Street.

My most relevant experience is Puyallup City Council, where I always come fully prepared and ready to represent you with commonsense decisions.

Corry Glucoft: As a small business owner and a young family, I will bring a much-needed voice to the city council. I have experience operating a budget for my business and know what it will take to attract businesses. I was also a founding member and chairperson for the KBTC Association Board. That experience taught me to work with people from different backgrounds and experiences and build consensus on ways we could help our community.

Above all, what makes me qualified to run for Puyallup City Council is that I am a citizen who loves this city and wants to put us back on the right track.

PH: If elected, what is one priority you would accomplish, and why?

JH: There are so many priorities that it’s difficult to pick one. Parks and recreation, the library, Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, the homeless and deficit reduction are very important. However, I’m going to pick public safety improvements because they are vital and could affect the budget significantly.

First, we need to work with South Sound 911 to protect our dispatch and integrate systems for increased safety. Our Memorandum of Understanding has already resulted in a commitment of $3 million by South Sound 911 for system improvements. We are also hoping to acquire new radios through them.

Secondly, our public safety building has reached a point where it is too small, and remodeling isn’t feasible. It needs to be integrated with our court system for maximum efficiency. Numerous policy questions will have to be asked and a location confirmed. We will need to acquire property, commence preliminary design, and then bring a bond measure to the public for a vote. This probably won’t happen until the library bond is paid off in six years, but we should be getting our plans in place, selling surplus property and buying what we will need for the future.

CG: I would push for the council to approve a parking structure for the Sounder commuters. After speaking to commuters about the parking situation, many said they would stay in the downtown area to eat and shop after they got off the train if parking were available.

A parking structure would also help with parking on the weekends and evenings for people that are coming to eat and shop. I envision a beautiful structure (not a giant concrete slab) with a few retail/restaurant locations on the bottom floor. We pay a lot of taxes in our community, and we deserve to get our fair share of funding from state and regional agencies like Sound Transit.

PH: What is one challenge you think Puyallup is facing over the next five years? What is the best solution to this challenge, and why?

JH: Infrastructure. This council, city manager and staff have enacted changes that have resulted in a sustainable budget. For the first time in over five years, we will be able to fully fund street, utility and building maintenance. We are now on track to repay, within four years, money that was borrowed from the utilities. We have even paid down debt over $13 million. This is an amazing turnaround that has been achieved without cuts to services.

Our new budget actually has an astounding increase of $15 million in capital projects. What we haven’t addressed yet is the need for infrastructure rebuilding. Maintenance is vital but will only take you so far.

In my opinion, there are only two viable solutions. Raise taxes and rates, or pay off debt. The alternative of reduction of services would be very unpopular. Further improvements to efficiency won’t get us close to our targets.

I believe that, in the case of sewer and storm water, we can fund necessary replacements, within six years, simply by continuing our aggressive loan-repayment schedule.

Unfortunately, this approach won’t work for streets and water, so we need to have some frank public discussions about alternatives.

CG: I think one major challenge will be catching up on the lack of maintenance to our infrastructure. Our streets are three years behind in resurfacing, and our water system is falling apart. We need to address these issues before it becomes more costly. We need to invest in these repairs now to save money in the long run.

The council should focus on ways to strengthen the utility fund’s financial footing, rather than handing payouts to other cities.

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