ADVOCACY

As a voice of business along the Seattle-Tacoma business Corridor, the Greater Federal Way Chamber represents 480+ businesses, employing an estimated 25,000 workers in the South Sound region.

Can you imagine a place where jobs are plentiful, education is high, transportation is accessible, and everything around you seems rich with opportunity? The Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce can. It doesn’t happen by accident. Working together with our partners, stakeholders, and elected officials, your Chamber connects you to issues that can make a difference in your future and the success of our community.

The Chamber believes a mix of industries creates a dynamic business environment for the region and we work on behalf of members to create a prosperous economy in the South Sound region. To support that work, advocacy at the Chamber is focused on transportation, education and workforce, business climate, and global competitiveness.

At its June Board meeting, Directors of the Greater Federal Way Chamber endorsed the Federal Way Public School bonds to construct new classrooms and replace and renovate aging school facilities, Resolution No. 2017-04.

The bond resolution for new and modernized facilities will be on the November 7, 2017 ballot. The bond proposition does not include a tax increase.

The proposition will address aging and deteriorating facilities, address overcrowding, and enhance safety. The proposition was recommended to the superintendent by a 100-member committee of parents and community members and was based on objective criteria to assess building conditions and learning environment assessments performed by third party experts.

The proposition expands, rebuilds or modernizes Thomas Jefferson High School, Totem Middle School, Illahee Middle School, Lake Grove Elementary, Mirror Lake Elementary, Star Lake Elementary, and Wildwood Elementary, as well as
Memorial Stadium. The proposition will enhance safety at all sites, and will convert the old central kitchen into a central warehouse.

A successful bond package will benefit all schools with School Construction Assistant Program (SCAP) funding to address major maintenance needs, provides security enhancements and relocate Mark Twain Elementary. The ballot proposition is a $450 million investment resulting in no tax increase.

Also in June, the Federal Way Public Schools Board of Directors unanimously approved the bond proposition with no tax increase. Comprehensive information about the FWPS bond resolution and the Facilities Planning Committee is online at www.fwps.org/bond.

2018 Candidates Forum and Questionnaire

Each year, the Chamber of Commerce holds a Candidates Forum in October as an exclusive member benefit. Candidates are also invited to share their positions on issues important to the business community through an annual Questionnaire developed through the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. Learn more about the 2018 Candidates below.

Candidates Questionnaire Newsletter Special Edition 2017

Candidate Questionnaire – Business and Economic Issues

Q: In your role as an elected official, how do you plan to enhance and support the business climate in Federal Way?

Mark Miloscia: For business success, we need to ensure we have a combination of accountable, transparent and quality governments and schools, and reasonable taxes necessary to take care of basic services and the most vulnerable and needy. Reductions in property taxes, car tabs can be accomplished with our large budget surpluses. Current tax proposals like the utility tax, fuel tax, income tax, and head taxes must be stopped. We need leaders who will effectively address the current failed policies on public safety, drugs, apartments and housing, taxes, congestion and transit, and homelessness that negatively affect businesses, families, and communities. I will continue to have an open-door policy and will meet with business leaders, groups, and corporations who need help here in the 30th District and across the state.

Claire Wilson: As a Senator, I will work with local business leaders and groups to ensure that we are supporting the businesses currently in Federal Way and creating an environment for new business and jobs to thrive. The transition to a greener and cleaner economy is a tremendous opportunity to create jobs while improving the impact on our environment. As a legislator, I will support efforts to develop jobs in greener manufacturing, clean energy, and other higher-tech sectors. However, we need to make sure that these jobs are located in more areas than just Seattle or East King County. These job opportunities should be created in South King County and other suburban and rural areas whose economies are lagging. We also need to make sure that workers have the skills they need, and that means expanding higher education and career & technical education opportunities so that people have the training and skills for these jobs. Those training opportunities can’t just be located in Seattle or Tacoma.

Q: Homelessness is a national and state-wide problem impacting both business and their communities. What are you going to do legislatively to address this issue?

Mark Miloscia: I have introduced a number of critical bills that focus on compassion and accountability and will get results. Even though a homeless emergency has been declared 3 years ago at the State, King County, and the Seattle City level, we still don’t have programs that work and where leaders and managers are held accountable for results. Until the current failed political leadership starts working in a bipartisan manner, addresses root causes, and develops a plan for success as required by law, we will continue to fail. The move to legalize hard drugs, end public safety and medical interventions, and continue expanding the failed housing, homeless, and drug treatment programs will only increase the homeless. Homelessness will worsen next year, unless we drastically change the current failed policies in Seattle, King County, and at the state level. Local businesses and other leaders must start fighting back on the “regionalization” of these failed Seattle policies by local leaders to our community and across the state.

Claire Wilson: Affordable Housing is one of the chief issues facing our state, and particularly this region. Homelessness is at a crisis level, and we need to address it with compassion and understanding. This issue is complicated and multifaceted with no simple solution, which is why it is important to balance the immediate need for getting people off the streets now with creating long term, measurable goals that keep them off the street for good.

By creating incentives to develop more affordable housing, combatting related crises like opioids and mental health, planning smart urban development, and improving temporary housing services, we can achieve real results with lasting impact. As a lifelong educator I always look for alternative solutions and work alongside stakeholders of all backgrounds to ensure definitive progress. I want to keep King County and Washington State affordable for all.

Q: How will you clarify legislative intent on the salary negotiation between competing school districts in Washington?

Mark Miloscia: The Seattle Times said it best “The work to improve education for all students is far from finished.”  However, “clarifying intent” does nothing, we must work in a bipartisan manner to pass statue and budget increases that addresses the funding and policy problems (regionalization pay and other funding disparities, special education, falling test scores, school violence, etc) that affects a multiple of districts. We must continue to link education outcomes (test scores, strategic goals, etc) to the capabilities and capacities of all staff (teachers, administrators, public school employees) to just wage and benefits policies and to sustainable budgets. Balancing local control with state mandates is critical as a reliance on onerous legislative control or unregulating the wealthy districts budgets will not help students or districts across the state. Only by working with the appropriate stakeholders with public involvement in a transparent manner, will we be successful.

Claire Wilson: I was relieved to finally see progress on McCleary last session due to the new Democratic majority, but we still have more work to do before we’ve truly fulfilled our paramount duty. Education on every level in our state is still critically underfunded, particularly when it comes to programs like special education. The state is also failing to do its part on capital needs including classroom construction. We have way too many students and teachers in portables across our state, and making sure that every student has a classroom to learn in is a pretty “basic” part of education to me. I’d like to see the margin for passing a school bond reduced to 50% as was done with school levies, but the state also needs to step up itself with more construction dollars.

Q: Given challenges in social services (i.e., Western State), transportation and education funding, will you be willing to support revenue enhancements? If so, briefly explain how you will address the difficult revenue/expense budget decision that must be made.

Mark Miloscia: No. Much of the problems we face in these areas are due poor leadership and poor management at the state, county and local levels. Since we, again, face a very large budget surplus next year, new taxes and fees are not needed. State general fund revenues and budgets have been growing by double digits rates for years, while we have not adequately addressed the lack of efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of social services, education, and certain transportation programs.  Any new revenues enhancements being considered, must be linked to real quality programs, public transparency, and results. Most important, the desires of the public and of business and other stakeholder groups must be considered.  Too many times, do nothing leaders try to fix problems with more taxes, rather than fix the multitude of dysfunctional and wasteful programs and agencies. Western State Hospital, DSHS, Sound Transit, Dept of Corrections, Homeless and Housing programs, Environmental programs, and many agencies can get results with policy and management reform rather than more taxes. A case by case review will easily show the proper budget decisions.

Claire Wilson: Washington must work to fix our upside-down, regressive tax system that benefits the most wealthy among us while the environment, children, families, and the economy suffer the consequences of underfunded environmental programs. As a legislator, I will work on and support legislation for a capital gains tax that requires the high-income earners in our state to pay their fair share. By budgeting for the general fund responsibly, we can protect dedicated sources of funding that are targeted at important needs.

Q: If elected, how will you work legislatively with the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce on economic development and other business initiatives? Please note any past or present engagement with Chamber projects and programs.

Mark Miloscia: As in the past, I will champion and help pass the Chambers agenda to make this state and our community the best place to work and live. I have sponsored and have fought for numerous specific and strategic Chamber and Business legislative efforts over my years in office, most recently the Chambers $250K Economic Development Project. Much more needs to be done and the Chamber and other businesses from across the state, are key stakeholders to help me with public policy that improves the local business climate, the common good, and our most vulnerable.

Claire Wilson: I look forward to working with the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce to grow current businesses and incentivize new businesses, and bolster economic development in the region. In my seven years as School Board Director and now as President, I have been supportive of, involved in, and thankful for Chamber events and projects that supported the educational system and the children and families in our community. I plan to look to the Chamber for ways we can work together to continue to support our community once elected to the Senate.

> Read the full list of questions and candidate answers.

Candidate Questionnaire – Business and Economic Issues

Q: In your role as an elected official, how do you plan to enhance and support the business climate in Federal Way?

Mike Pellicciotti: My educational background is in business and economic development. A priority for me has been to make Federal Way a place that a new generation wants to live and work. This, in turn, increases new dollars in the community to be spent in our local businesses. I believe that Federal Way has many unique strengths that are attractive to a new generation of residents” a beautiful environment with attractive housing options that are more affordable for families than surrounding areas. But we must ensure that” in addition to accessible housing” our foundations of attractive educational opportunities and public safety are in place, so that we can remain a destination for new families. It’s why I have focused on expanding funding for local police and our local schools. It’s why I’ve also worked to lower our property taxes. Our business growth is tied to our local residential growth” and I will continue to focus on policies that support that. 

Linda Kochmar: As your former State Representative, Federal Way City Council Member, and Federal Way Mayor in 2010, I have served you with integrity and dedication for almost two decades.

I am deeply concerned about higher taxes, job creation, limiting regulations, and improving traffic congestion. Federal Way was built by small business. My goal has always been to help our businesses survive and thrive. I argued on the City Council against a City Business and Occupation tax and worked to improve the city’s permitting system. I also helped to improve the streets in the city’s core to alleviate the flooding in the area and made sure that cable was extended. And I personally worked to bring $12M in federal funds for Federal Way street improvements. At the state level, I was successful in obtaining $1M in funding for the nursing program at Highline Community College and over $4M for the Performing Arts and Event Center. I will continue to work to ensure that our businesses are successful.

Q: Homelessness is a national and state-wide problem impacting both business and their communities. What are you going to do legislatively to address this issue?

Mike Pellicciotti: I see homelessness as a regional problem. Many of my colleagues have legislative districts facing similar challenges. I have supported housing and mental health funding and programs throughout the region so that those in need of services in neighboring areas can be expanded to receive services directly in those areas. I have also sponsored services for homeless women and children in Federal Way. I led the House budget proviso to purchase the new FUSION building, so that funds collected from in that volunteer effort can now be maximized and go directly to those local housing needs, especially for victims of domestic violence.

Linda Kochmar: The homeless issue is multi-faceted. A percentage of homeless prefer that lifestyle, however there are many who could be helped if we had a place for them to stay that included services. I previously served on the State’s Capital Budget Committee and would ask to do so again so that I could argue on behalf of providing the money needed to provide housing for them. Mental illness is also an issue with the homeless population and the problems with Western State Hospital need to be resolved. And we need housing where the hospitals can discharge the mentally ill so that they can get help the need. Drug use is a large part of the problem and I believe we need more treatment centers.

As always, one of the best ways to combat homelessness is to provide living wage jobs and that’s why supporting our businesses is so important. The state can help by providing job training and education opportunities. I would continue to support the Day Center, Fusion, and the Multi-Service Center.

Q: How will you clarify legislative intent on the salary negotiation between competing school districts in Washington?

Mike Pellicciotti: While most education issues and salary negotiations take place at the local school district level, the legislature must fix the regionalization issue that I previously voted against and which is treating our school district unfairly. Now that the McCleary constitutional challenge has been addressed by directing state funds to local teacher salaries” and the first time in years the legislature is not in contempt of court” we need to now make sure funding needs not part of that “basic education” mandate of McCleary, like special education and regionalization inequities, are addressed.

Linda Kochmar: There are fundamental inequities in how the state funds the education system. In response to the MeCleary decision, the state attempted to equalize the funding in different areas of the state. The plan, however, did not address the disparity between property rich areas and those with a lower tax base. The property tax rate should be equalized statewide. Gov. Inslee proposed a new income tax on capital gains, a huge increase on on small business, and a new carbon tax. The legislature will need to address this equitable funding issue. More than half of the state budget is currently provided to the state school system, however current salary negotiations are not sustainable in the long term.

Q: Given challenges in social services (i.e., Western State), transportation and education funding, will you be willing to support revenue enhancements? If so, briefly explain how you will address the difficult revenue/expense budget decision that must be made.

Mike Pellicciotti: Every year the legislature faces challenging budget questions. There are always questions how we will address all immediate needs. Last year with thoughtful analysis, however, we were able to meet additional education and social service challenges without the need for any new taxes. In fact, I successfully supported cuts to next year’s property taxes in this year’s budget. I would start from the premise that with additional cost savings and regional economic growth we can again meet that objective of remaining revenue neutral. It is why maintaining a strong local economy that keeps dollars local is critical to these efforts.

Linda Kochmar: Western State should focus on forensic patients and the state should focus on providing community based facilities for long-term inpatient care. Community based, long-term care facilities should be sited across the state and this would alleviate some of the problems at Western State. Sixty percent of the transportation dollar currently goes to mass transit. We need to solve our traffic congestion problem and I’ve always believed that one way is to provide more opportunities for jobs close to where we live. Education funding is currently being addressed. Any new taxes, such a carbon tax, would not benefit business nor our hard working families. My goal will always be to avoid any new taxes.

Q: If elected, how will you work legislatively with the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce on economic development and other business initiatives? Please note any past or present engagement with Chamber projects and programs.

Mike Pellicciotti: The people I work with in the Federal Way Chamber are important constituents. The Chamber is the heartbeat of economic development in our region. I have worked closely with members of the Chamber to advance important initiatives for our area. This includes my co-sponsorship of Rep. Reeves’ budget proviso for a Federal Way Chamber Economic Development Inventory for our community. I will continue to work on that and other economic development initiatives that the Chamber identifies as important.

Linda Kochmar: I’ve always tried to work with business on the local and state level. In the past, I’ve been endorsed by the Association of WA Business and currently have been endorsed by the Association of General Contractors and the WA Retail Association. I’ve worked to reduce regulations, ensured that the city did not have a B&O tax, worked to provide $12M in federal money for street improvements and always supported local business. As a member of the Legislature, I was successful in bringing back over $4M for the Performing Arts and Event Center.

> Read the full list of questions and candidate answers.

Candidate Questionnaire – Business and Economic Issues

Q: In your role as an elected official, how do you plan to enhance and support the business climate in Federal Way?

Kristine Reeves: As an economic developer in my day-job, I spend most days thinking about how we build an economy that works better for working families in our state. As an elected official, I am grateful to have the chance to bring that knowledge to my public service in South King County & partner with organizations, like the chamber, in creating and implementing strategic economic development initiatives.

Businesses are the economic engine of our community & without a strong business climate & tax base, the other elements of economic growth & sustainability are not possible.

I am proud to have fought for funding that supports the chamber in its mission, to support infrastructure investments in STEM education at TAF at Saghalie so students can be a better prepared workforce for high tech jobs of the future, to have encouraged investments in public transportation and more, because it is all of these things working together that enhance & support a strong business climate in our community.

Mark Greene: My motto will be the same as the late, great president Calvin Coolidge, who once said “the business of America is business.” I will work to expand the business climate in Washington and the 30th District through promoting solution-based, problem solving businesses in Washington that want a profitable base, or a non-profit environment, and will find solutions to a host of 21st century problems, such as environmental and housing, that are of concern now or may eventually become a concern. This expansion would be a major job source for the people of the 30th District.

Q: Homelessness is a national and state-wide problem impacting both business and their communities. What are you going to do legislatively to address this issue?

Kristine Reeves: As someone who has experienced homelessness, I know first hand the value of having a roof over your head in being able to put the rest of your life in place and remain a contributing member of the community. It’s why I voted against increased property taxes, voted for property tax rebates, supported legislation to help seniors, veterans & others on fixed incomes with the property tax burden, and pushed for millions of your tax dollars to return to the community to support organizations like FUSION in the work of transitioning families and others out of homelessness.

Homelessness is an indicator of an economy that isn’t working for everyone. Housing affordability isn’t happening because supply and demand aren’t meeting. We are tens of thousands of housing units short. We must work with our cities to promote permitting of housing development and support strategic urban growth that allows us to maintain our unique quality of life.

Mark Greene: To solve homelessness, the Legislature needs to come up with incentives for private developers and builders to build at least 500 YMCA-style buildings throughout the state of Washington that would specialize in low-cost single room occupancy rooms, and provide services and benefits for those trying to upgrade their lifestyle. There are a plethora of other ideas that would help, but the focus now should be on relatively easy-to-implement-ideas, and fast planning and action to address this problem quickly.

Q: How will you clarify legislative intent on the salary negotiation between competing school districts in Washington?

Kristine Reeves: I was the first legislator in the state to introduce a bill that would have addressed the salary regionalization factor for our school districts. Unfortunately, I was not able to move the bill in the larger solution that became the final McCleary bill. But I am committed to making sure that teachers in Federal Way can make the same as teachers in Auburn and I intend to keep working to correct this issue.

Mark Greene: Work with all the districts throughout the state and find a consensus that will benefit, most importantly, children’s education, and then the ability of the state to hire teachers at good, middle-class salaries in properly maintained school buildings and facilities.

Q: Given challenges in social services (i.e., Western State), transportation and education funding, will you be willing to support revenue enhancements? If so, briefly explain how you will address the difficult revenue/expense budget decision that must be made.

Kristine Reeves: I am committed to finding a path forward that ensures we can keep our promises to those struggling the most among us, to our seniors, our veterans, those with mental health needs, our kids, and the hard working families of our communities. However, we can not focus on raising revenue in a system that disproportionately impacts middle and working class families in our district. If revenue is needed, we must look at addressing it by closing corporate tax loopholes (yes there are still some out there), discussing capital gains as a tax on your portfolio, not your paycheck, and looking at B&O tax reform to support small businesses that are also working hard to support families. This is not about taxing people more but rather making sure everyone is paying their fair share and right now, middle class and working families are paying more than their fair share.

Mark Greene: Generally, as long as the business climate in Washington is good, sufficient revenue will follow, so the state should have good relationships with businesses and organizations that promote policies that enable businesses to run efficiently and effectively. I will offer a voluntary revenue enhancement bill that would enable any business or anybody who wants to donate, a simple way to allocate funds to whatever state department or program they want.

Q: If elected, how will you work legislatively with the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce on economic development and other business initiatives? Please note any past or present engagement with Chamber projects and programs.

Kristine Reeves: As someone who has worked in economic development for over a decade, I know that chambers play a pivotal role in supporting small businesses in our communities, in creating strategic visions for the growth and sustainability of communities and promoting workforce development plans that meet growing business’ needs. I was proud to bring your tax dollars home to support the work of the chamber in their efforts to build a strong market driven plan for sustainable business growth and their work to provide technical support to minority, women, and veteran owned businesses in our region.

I believe strongly that our chamber is well-positioned to help us build an economy that works better for our middle class, working families and their small businesses here in the South Sound. That’s why I look forward to continuing to partner with the chamber, collaborate on projects and support their efforts to grow our economy in Federal Way.

Mark Greene: My line will be open 24/7 and my availability to meet with the GFWCC and discuss policies and opportunities for business development in Federal Way and the greater 30th District and state will be extensive.

> Read the full list of questions and candidate answers.