By Polly Keary, Editor
Ballots for the 2013 general election will be mailed out Friday, and next week voters can begin choosing their candidates.
Last week, the Monroe Monitor concluded coverage of Monroe’s contested races. This week, we cover the one uncontested race for city council; that of Patsy Cudaback.
Cudaback, an attorney and the director of the Monroe YMCA, has served on the council for four years. Under Monroe’s term limit ordinance, she can only serve four more years.
She took time last week to respond to a short questionnaire about her thoughts on matters impacting the city.
How do you see the role of the city council in city affairs? What is the council’s mandate, and what should council stay out of?
First and foremost, as an elected body, council’s principle role is to represent both the individual and collective voices of the people. In line with this, it is incumbent upon council to effectively manage the health and wellbeing of our broader community, ensuring public safety, promoting fiscal responsibility, and conscientiously planning for future growth and development while maintaining existing city infrastructure. However, as a non-partisan advocate for the entire community, the day-to-day management of city operations falls clearly outside council’s defined authority.
You’ve had an opportunity to work closely with the council for four years. What is the biggest obstacle to productiveness on the council? What helps the council work at its best?
I see three main obstacles to council success: unnecessary political bias, limited professional diversity of current serving members, and a general lack of cooperative council interaction. Council is at its best when prepared to respectfully engage in productive dialogue, articulate and debate the issues, and take appropriate action.
What do you think the city could do to help facilitate a revitalized downtown?
It’s pretty simple, really; the city needs to support the organizations and businesses that make up the downtown area, especially through collaboration with Monroe Chamber of Commerce and DREAM. As we replace aging infrastructure downtown, it is equally important that council adhere to the Downtown Master Plan developed by the Monroe community and adopted by the previous administration. Finally, parking and access to public restrooms remains an impediment to the successful revitalization of downtown, and therefore council must work collaboratively to address these pressing issues as we move forward.
How do you envision accommodating the additional traffic that Walmart and the widening of SR 522 are likely to bring?
In the case of Wal-Mart, I believe that the traffic mitigation fees assessed for the particular development were inadequate given the expected volume of additional traffic set to impact the Kelsey area. Given that, one way forward is to advocate for immediate commencement of Phase 1 of the HWY2 by-pass, a plan expected to significantly alleviate Eastbound HWY2 traffic by extending North Monroe access for Monroe residents and commuters.
As the economy improves and as the city’s revenues increase after years of reductions and cuts, where do you think new revenue should go first?
Public safety remains a priority and therefore we need to make sure that the city has enough trained officers on the streets. We also need to step up funding for the Monroe Planning and Permitting Department in order to meet the rising demand created by increased local development. Finally, because the recession proved especially challenging for the Parks departments, we need to guarantee sufficient funding to support maintenance of our beautiful parks.
What is the best way to bring family wage jobs to Monroe? Do we have enough industrial land?
The best way forward is to continue to promote Monroe as a thriving community, for both family and business, with the city permitting process striving to remain efficient and expedient. Meanwhile, it is critical that the balance between industrial, commercial, and residential be maintained for the benefit of all stakeholders. Currently, significant industrial land remains vacant throughout much of Monroe, and so more immediate attempts at filling such vacancies would certainly help community prosperity.
To what extent can Monroe control what businesses come to town? Within that ability, to what extent should the city try to defer or attract specific businesses?
Businesses meeting zoning and city business requirements are afforded an equal opportunity to set up shop here in Monroe. That being said, the city is currently on sound economic footing, and we should therefore take this opportunity to attract businesses that satisfy both the current and longer-term vision we imagine for Monroe.
What do you want the citizens of Monroe to know about where the city stands today, and where you would like to see it go?
Today Monroe is fiscally strong. Sales tax revenues continue to exceed projections, city debt has been significantly reduced and reserve funds established, and both residential and commercial development is on the rise. With financial stability in place, Monroe again has an opportunity like never before to realize a true vision for this community: revitalize downtown through implementation of the Master Plan, complete the sale of the North Kelsey property, strategically lobby state officials for commencement of the HWY2 by-pass plan, and to connect Centennial Trail from Snohomish to Monroe.