Four candidates vie for Tukwila City Council Position No. 5 on August primary ballot

  • Monday, July 24, 2017 5:44pm
  • News

Editor’s note: Due to a computer error, candidate responses from Coletha Albert and Zak Idan were not included in the July print edition of the Tukwila Reporter. Armen Papyan’s responses were cut off. Full responses submitted by the candidates are included below. The Reporter apologizes for the error.

The Aug. 1 primary ballot features a four-way race for Tukwila City Council Position No. 5.

Dennis Martinez, Armen Papyan, Coletha Y. Albert and Zak Idan filed to replace Joe Duffie, who decided not to run for another four-year term after serving 36 years on council.

City Council positions are part time, and council members are paid $1,250 a month and receive certain medical benefits.

The two candidates with the most votes in the primary advance to the November general election. The winner of the general election begins serving Jan. 1.

Ballots for the primary were mailed on July 12 and must be returned or postmarked by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1.

DENNIS MARTINEZ

“I have spent my life working. Raised in Eastern Washington in an immigrant family, I learned my work ethic on my grandparents’ farm. I learned then that there’s no way to get today’s work done tomorrow, and that no farm can stand on its own to prosper – each needs the whole community. My Tukwila roots run deep. I raised my family here. My wife has worked with the Tukwila Fire Department for 27 years. Our daughter bought her first home here. My mother-in-law was raised here, and our grandchildren go to school here,” Martinez said.

“I worked in the construction industry for almost four decades. Having negotiated union contracts, I know how to represent working people. Having made competitive bids for businesses, I am an expert at planning costs. With experience on the Tukwila Planning Commission and as a regular attendee to City Council meetings, I believe I can make Tukwila’s government work for us. With 28 years in Tukwila, I know that a strong community and a good work ethic is what can make Tukwila prosper.”

Why do you want to serve on the City Council, and what would you bring to the council, if elected?

I have always sought to serve my community. I am a perennial volunteer. Community is important to me, and I have given my time to St. Thomas Catholic Church, Habitat for Humanity and the Hand Up Foundation to fight homelessness. I know that today’s youth are the future, so I have volunteered with Thorndyke Middle School’s Watch Dog program, the Still Water Weekend SnackPack program, Foster girls’ fastpitch and Highline softball. Offering to use my skills to assist people who need them the most, I have volunteered as a trades mentor to help women and minority apprentices advance their careers. With the Helmets to Hard Hats program, I helped returning veterans transition into good jobs here at home. I have helped promote living wage jobs to underserved communities and donated construction gear so that new construction workers can have an equal start in their new jobs. I know how to take the skills that I gained as a tradesman and use them for the benefit of others. I want to bring that experience to Tukwila’s City Council, so that the economy I worked in will start working for you.

What are the top issues facing the city, and how would you address them?

This economy is leaving people like you and me behind. When I think about the careers my grandchildren will have, I’m afraid they won’t have the opportunities I was given. While the service sector – with its lower wages, minimal benefits, and less stable careers – seems increasingly dominant, I know firsthand that there are opportunities out there for careers like mine. We just need the skills. I’m running for the City Council because our residents need to have the best chance to take advantage of those opportunities. Tukwila can be a regional hub for qualified workers who have the skills that are most in demand. If we partner with unions and private industry, we can create a new skills training center. Tukwila can be a regional center for all kinds of new ventures. Businesses can find the perfect location here in Tukwila, and they should be able to find the workers they need here, too. We cannot let Tukwila be left behind. I know that with the combination of my vision, my work ethic and my skills, we won’t have to worry any longer about our future or the future for our children and grandchildren here in Tukwila.

ARMEN PAPYAN

“Born to immigrant parents, I know the value of education, working hard and pursuing my dream,” Papyan said. “When I attended Foster High School and was elected as the ASB president, I was actively involved in the Tukwila School District planning assemblies and various events. I established a soccer program for Tukwila students and residents who are low-income students and cannot afford the cost to play on a soccer team. I served with the Tukwila food pantry, opened a student store at Foster High School, participated in passing the Tukwila School District levy and the Public Safety Bond. I dedicated many hours to volunteering in the community, including advocating for homelessness, immigration, opioid epidemic and affordable housing at the state capitol and in Washington, D.C. I am a student and I work as an independent care provider affiliated with SEIU. These experiences introduced me to the importance of inclusion and influenced my decision to attend the University of Washington Tacoma as policy, philosophy and economics major. By embracing our differences and sharing our experiences, we can continue to support the diverse community of Tukwila.”

Why do you want to serve on the City Council, and what would you bring to the council, if elected?

As the youngest candidate to ever run for Tukwila City Council, I would be proud to bring new and fresh ideas to the city governance. I want to send a message to young people to be inspired and engage in the political process and to get involved in their local government. I want to bridge the community and the City Council to support our Tukwila residents. My actions have spoken louder than my words. Most of the community members know the work that I do in Tukwila and in the school district. The work I do in the community is not for one religion or one cultural background, but it benefits everyone no matter their race, age or gender. When I advocate for education, it benefits every single community member. I unify people of every background and advocate for everyone through my work and volunteering.

What are the top issues facing the city, and how would you address them?

As Tukwila grows there are more concerning issues to the public.

Affordable Housing: Tukwila has seen a consistent rise in living costs. We need to expand and work to provide low- and moderate-income households affordable housing-related assistance, build new apartments, single-family units and renovate apartments that are not in sustainable conditions.

Education: Our future is in the hands of our youth. The mission is to create a bridge to build and maintain a great relationship between the School Board and the City Council in order to accomplish both short-term and long-term goals to help support our Tukwila students, such as transportation from after school programs, tutoring and job training.

Transportation: Tukwila residents lack public transportation options. Particularly, there is a need for transportation to the Tukwila Community Center and other destinations up north. Our goal is to create a transportation system that is affordable, accessible and specifically designed for the needs of Tukwila residents.

Safety: Tukwila is one of the fastest growing cities with diverse racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our top priority is to ensure the well-being of the entire Tukwila community and maintaining a close working relationship with law enforcement.

COLETHA Y. ALBERT

“I am a native Houstonian who headed west after 9/11, landing in Seattle. I am a disaster preparedness buff,” Albert said.

Why do you want to serve on the City Council, and what would you bring to the council, if elected?

I want to serve on the City Council because I can represent all of the diverse communities here in Tukwila. Growing up in an international city, Tukwila feels like home to me, from Edgar, the hotdog man who lives in “classic” Tukwila, to Lori who has been helping me at the post office for years. She knows everything about post office boxes and helped me after my home mailbox became unsafe, to Roseann from Oklahoma who works as a nanny in West Seattle, just to name a couple of Tukwila residents. I bring my ability to connect with all residents.

What are the top issues facing the city, and how would you address them?

The top issues are reduction of crime and housing costs, the same as any city that is growing. Tukwila is growing. I am proud of this city. On Aug. 1, Tukwila offers an opportunity for residents to come out and meet their neighbors during National Night Out. In this way we become acquainted with each other and get a better sense of what issues there are, for example, rising utility costs. One resident told me that nosey citizens are our best assets. That just may be true. Many in Tukwila enjoy sharing their stories with me and I enjoy listening.

It would be my honor to serve on the City Council representing the diverse residents of Tukwila. I appreciate everyone’s support.

ZAK IDAN

Idan arrived in the United States at 11 years old, after he and his family fled the civil war in Somalia. He settled in Tukwila and attended Evergreen High School in the Highline School District. Because his family stressed the value of a good education and hard work, he entered the Running Start program at Highline Community College while still in high school, enabling him to graduate from Evergreen and then Highline with an associate of science degree. He continued his education at the University of Washington, where he earned his bachelor of science degree in construction engineering management with a minor in urban planning. Idan works for King County as a project control engineer in the Department of Natural Resources.

Idan is an advocate for his community. He serves on several boards and commissions, including the Tukwila Police Advisory Board, OneAmerica and the Matt Griffin YMCA. He volunteers with Action Tukwila and as a youth soccer coach. In addition to supporting local small businesses, Idan makes a point to work closely with the immigrant community in Tukwila paving the way for those who want to experience the American Dream, just like he did.

Why do you want to serve on the City Council, and what would you bring to the council, if elected?

I want to give back to my community. I arrived to the United States as a young child and ever since, I’ve been a Tukwila resident and advocate for those in my community. I believe that I would be an even more effective advocate those who feel they don’t have a voice on City Council.

I bring my skills and knowledge as an engineer and urban planner to the council, experience on the Community-Oriented Policing Citizen’s Advisory Board, the Matt Griffin YMCA, and several other community and city boards I serve on, in addition to my institutional knowledge and relationships from my work with King County.

What are the top issues facing the city, and how would you address them?

From knocking on doors in every neighborhood in Tukwila in the last couple of months, I heard my neighbors express concerns around public safety and crime, education and housing. As a father of three, all three of those issues hit home for me.

If I were to be elected to Tukwila City Council, I would use my expertise in public safety issues to push for strategic solutions for mail theft, hate crimes and continue the increased quality of our police force’s response times to residents. On education, as a father of three, a former Running Start student and a graduate of the UW, I know firsthand that education is key to opportunities. I would work with the district to create internship and apprenticeship opportunities, not to mention advocate for more support and funding for our teachers and services to support our diverse student body in Tukwila.

Lastly, our region is going through a magnificent economic boom, and I think that we should expand our housing stock and build houses and apartments that our current residents and the workers of Tukwila’s businesses can afford and thrive in.

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