Allan Ekberg has spent political career fighting for neighborhoods | TUKWILA MAYOR’S RACE

Allan Ekberg ran for Tukwila City Council at age 29. His mantra then was no net loss of single-family neighborhoods, something that still drives him today.

Tukwila mayoral candidate Allan Ekberg

Allan and Trish Ekberg, now married for 30 years, bought a nice two-bedroom house in 1987 that they had to defend almost immediately.

Their home in Riverton was in unincorporated King County and at the time the county wanted to rezone the single-family neighborhood into light commercial. The neighborhood rose up and eventually, Ekberg worked with other residents to annex Riverton and other neighborhoods to Tukwila in 1989.

He then ran for the City Council at age 29. His mantra then was no net loss of single-family neighborhoods, something that still drives him today.

“The reason is that the foundation for stability in our city is those single-family residential neighborhoods,” he says.

In 1995 and again today, Ekberg sits on the City Council at a time when Tukwila is updating its Comprehensive Plan, which provides the vision for the growth and development of the city.

During the 1995 update, Ekberg was chosen as council president out of turn because of his skills at facilitating meetings and discussions.

This time around, the council scrambled near the end of the process to change wording after some council members, including Ekberg, expressed reservations the update could lead to urbanization in single-family neighborhoods that residents didn’t want or even know about.

“The end game is that I don’t want Tukwila to look like Ballard or Fremont or Seattle, which has a lot of single-family homes next to taller duplexes or taller townhouses,” he said, changing the character of the neighborhoods.

That is what concerned Tukwila’s citizens, too, he said.

“I still think there are areas of the city that could be put to a better use for duplexes and townhomes,” he said, and that neighborhoods would “relish.” He just wasn’t an advocate for a process that would allow those housing styles throughout the city nor one that didn’t fully involve the neighborhoods.

Now, the council-adopted update doesn’t mention townhomes or duplexes and does mention that such uses would occur only after a robust community-outreach program as the city moves through the process to implement the Comprehensive Plan’s vision through the zoning code and city regulations.

“The change gives us the means to slowly move in that direction if a neighborhood voices its desire to,” he said. He’d like to work with neighborhoods in a pilot program to fulfill a neighborhood’s wishes and as an example for other neighborhoods.

Residents who are renting an apartment or single-family home probably couldn’t afford the townhomes or duplexes that are being talked about, Ekberg said.

Instead the city needs to encourage and enable the efforts of such agencies as the King County Housing Authority to acquire existing apartments and rehabilitate them if necessary as affordable housing, he said. That’s exactly what happened when the housing authority recently purchased apartment complexes in Tukwila and Seatac.

With lots that are prime for redevelopment on Tukwila International Boulevard, the city could partner with a health agency to develop a medical facility on a ground floor and low-income housing above, he said, a project the city shouldn’t subsidize.

The redevelopment of the Boulevard has been “a series of fits and starts.” The issue is that the small lots with commercial buildings or apartments bring in “really good income” for the property owners, so there’s no incentive for them to do anything differently, he said.

The income is pure profit, unless the owner is reinvesting into the property, he said. “Apparently, they are not putting money back into it,” he said

The city is looking at allowing three- and four-bedroom apartments on top of other development, which would encourage developers to build something new or combine small lots, he said.

The city could play an important role in sending a message to the city’s criminal element if it built a new public-safety building on the Boulevard that would house the Police Department and the city’s courts.

The city is looking at how to make best use of its current city facilities, including City Hall, and where to build a new public-safety building, which Ekberg says has be to on the Boulevard.

“The reason for that is the influence of patrol cars that will go in and out of that station will be seen by everyone who is on the Boulevard and will provide such a great low-enforcement presence that I think people will get the message that this is not place to play anymore, in a negative way,” he said.

The effect of the seizure of troubled motels on the Boulevard is showing in crime statistics, which reveal a drop in robberies and burglaries, Ekberg said. The motels accounted for more than a quarter of the city’s police response.

“It was crazy,” Ekberg said. “Now those officers are more prevalent on the streets.”

The Police Department is doing a “good job,” Ekberg said. “Under this chief we have currently, I think Mike Villa has his heart in the right place.”

Villa has “whittled out” some of the officers he inherited when he took over as chief, Ekberg said.

“His code of ethics is very strong,” Ekberg said. “He has a lot of expectations for his officers to follow that Code of Ethics. I really respect him for that.”

Ekberg says it’s been his desire for years and years to run for mayor. He knows what he’s going to do first if he’s elected.

“In the first several months, it’s going to be drinking from a sponge and having my ears wide open and listening to not only what’s going on within the city from a tactical and strategic standpoint but also from a behavioral standpoint,” he said.

“Who are the people and how do they interact with their staff and how do they interact with me? It’s going to take a little bit of time to figure that out,” he said, but as a consultant he’s had to “jump right in” at big companies.

As mayor, he would like to have a “really strong relationship” with the City Council. But, council members might also get upset with him.

“I will want to be transparent and include them in probably more things than they ever wanted to see on their plate,” he said. To use a current issue as an example, he wouldn’t want the council to hear from staff at the end of a long process about a plan to allow townhomes and duplexes in single-family neighborhoods, he said

“I want them to be aware of what’s going on in the early stages of an issue so they can influence it if they choose to,” he said.

Ekberg will commit to one new initiative for the first six months, saying he wants “the citizens of Tukwila to be the special interests of the city.”

He will put in place a mechanism so that he knows about any complaint or issue that a citizen brings to anyone in the City of Tukwila.

“I want staff to tell me about it, no if, ands buts,” he said.

Then, he’ll track the issue to ensure there was a resolution, which may not always be positive, he said.

“I am not promising that everything is going to be taken care of but I will promise that I want to know what’s going on from our residents, because my whole reason for running is to bring more responsivity from the city back to its people who live here.”

TOP CONTRIBUTORS

As of Oct. 15, Allan Ekberg had received contributions of cash, personal loans or in-kind donations totaling $24,367. Ekberg has contributed $10,500 in personal loans to his campaign, as well as other personal funds which he has disclosed. His Top 10 contributors reported to the Public Disclosure Commission are: Dennis Robertson, Tukwila, $500

Louise Strander, Tukwila, $250

Lanny Vickers, Tukwila, $200

Jim Bernard, Tukwila, $200

Jeff Lopez-Stuit, Tukwila,$145

Vern Meryhew, Tukwila, $100

Richard Jordan, Seattle, $100

Paul Tanaka, Seattle, $100

Tom Balzarini, Tukwila, $100

Vitaly Krasny, Plano, Texas, $60

BIOGRAPHY

ALLAN EKBERG

PERSONAL: Age, 56, married to Trish Camozzi-Ekberg; they have two children, Karlin, 25, and Erik, 23; served in the U.S. Air Force, 1978-1982; life-long resident of Tukwila, except for years at college and in the military; grew up in Riverton, now lives in McMicken Heights.

EDUCATION: 1977 graduate of Foster High School; Riverside City College, associate of applied science, criminal justice, 1981; Humboldt State University, bachelor’s degree in business administration, with concentration in Computer Information Systems, minor in speech communication, 1984; University of Phoenix, MBA, 2003; University of Washington, eCommerce certificate.

PROFESSION: senior information technology project manager, BECU.

POLITICAL ACTIVITIES: Member, Tukwila City Council, 1990-1997 and 2010 to present; member, Tukwila Planning Commission, 2003-2009; member, Tukwila Sign Code Committee, 2008; commissioner, Tukwila Facility Study Committee, 2015; commissioner, Tukwila Metropolitan Park District Board, 2011-present.

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Member and treasurer, Foster High School Centennial Committee, 2014-2015; member, PTA, while children in school; chairman, Tukwila Transit Advisory, 1998; member, Highway 99 Action Committee, 1998; led citizen effort to annex Riverton into Tukwila, 1988-1989.

ENDORSEMENTS: Didn’t seek endorsements “in order to start fresh and not be obligated to outside interests.”

CONTACT: By phone, 206-241-6904. Website, www.EkbergForMayor.com.

 

 

 

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