Katherine Kruller: City poised for bright future | ELECTION 2015

Katherine Kruller has served on a number of City Council and regional committees, including one that has explored the feasibility of Tukwila joining the Kent Regional Fire Authority. This year she’s the council’s president and is president of the Board of Commissioners of the Tukwila Pool Metropolitan Park District

Katherine (Kate) Kruller

It sounds like a broken record, she says, but Kate Kruller has her list of things she really cares about as she runs for her second term on the Tukwila City Council.

“I really care about responsible budgets. I really care a lot about sustaining our emergency services at a high level of service. I care about affordable housing for everyone. I care about safe neighborhoods,” she says.

The city still has transportation issues to resolve, she said, but her mantra – still – is to continue to improve “our transportation system for our residents and those who work here.”

Kruller has served on a number of City Council and regional committees, including one that has explored the feasibility of Tukwila joining the Kent Regional Fire Authority. This year she’s the council’s president and is president of the Board of Commissioners of the Tukwila Pool Metropolitan Park District

For sure, Tukwila is at a “significant point in time” when it will transform itself, she said.

For example:

• A recommendation will go to the Tukwila City Council by year’s end whether to send to Tukwila’s voters a measure to contract for fire services with Kent’s fire authority, which already provides fire services to Kent, SeaTac, Covington and Fire District 37.

• With a new state transportation budget, the City Council must press forward, she said, for funding for the Boeing Access Road light-rail station in the Sound Transit’s ST3 bond measure. And there’s grant money available for extending Strander Boulevard and building a bike and pedestrian bridge across the Green River.

• The city is in the final phase of a city facilities study, with decisions about priorities and funding over the next 25 years to be made in the next four years.

“I smile a lot. We’re at a turning point where things get a lot better in Tukwila because of a whole lot of chain reactions going on,” she said.

‘Chain reaction’

One of those “chain reactions,” taken as a whole, is the development of Tukwila Village and the revitalization of Tukwila International Boulevard.

“I consider Tukwila Village a catalyst to change on Tukwila International Boulevard,” she said. “It exemplifies the reason for the revitalization zone that we created up there.”

The city worked hard and spent a “pretty good amount” of money on the Boulevard to condemn busineses that didn’t adhere to the “future and vision that we have for Tukwila. And that’s clearing the way for exciting things that may occur up there.”

At the same time, Kruller said, the city needs “to do more to manage our finances well, stay up with increasing public safety and infrastructure demands, provide affordable housing and safe neighborhoods, and improve city services to meet the needs of our residents, people who work here and visitors.”

Occasionally, national websites will report that Tukwila has some of the highest crime rates in the nation. But, Kruller said, that’s using FBI statistics in “funky ways.” “Not anything like it,” she said of the rankings.

“They are comparing our crime numbers to our nighttime population,” she said, when Tukwila has about 19,000 residents. But what the online analysis doesn’t reveal is that Tukwila’s daytime population grows to about 150,000 because of workers and shoppers at the retail complex in Southcenter, where shoplifting occurs.

Neighborhood crime

For the neighborhoods, major concerns are thefts from mailboxes and porches and burlaries, she said, as evidenced by what she hears from neighbors and her Block Watches. Being aware can help slow down criminals, as can alerts on social media of anything out of the ordinary, she said.

“The future of Tukwila belongs to the people who live here,” she said, and not just her or the City Council or the Planning Commission or city staff. “Everybody.”

For her, the questions are: “What is best for our neighborhoods? What makes sense for us here in Tukwila?”

“In terms of the future of Tukwila, what we as the council would like to see is that we turn to the neighborhoods and they get to have a heavy role in what the future looks like for them,” she said.

“We want Tukwila to be a very livable city,” she said.

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