Kenneth (Ken) Pearson is running for Auburn City Council Position No. 3. His opponent is James Jeyaraj. Though Pearson is not on the Primary Election ballot, we asked all City Council candidates our primary questions to allow voters to gather as much information as possible to be informed voters when casting their vote.
Auburn Examiner: What part of Auburn do you live in and why did you choose to live there?
Kenneth (Ken) Pearson: I live in south Auburn now, for 9 1/2 years. I’ve also lived in central, and north Auburn. Where I live now is convenient to shopping, bus stops, downtown for Dr. visits. It’s a great location.
AE: Where are your favorite places to spend time in our town?
KP: There are many places I enjoy. I love Game Farm park in the spring when the blooms are popping. I don’t gamble, but love the atmosphere of Muckleshoot Casino. I enjoy get up close to the horses at Emerald Downs during racing season. In fall, anywhere I can see the leaves change color. But, my favorite place of all is barbeque in my back yard, with family and friends, and a few ‘cold ones.’
AE: Where do you do your grocery shopping?
KP: I do most of my grocery shopping at Albertsons. I love the people that work there. I do make special trips to Walmart for a few certain items. (The best price on Seattle’s Best Coffee #5) I also go to SAARS Super Saver for produce. (The old Tops Supermarket.)
AE: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our city?
KP: The first step is to encourage them to vote, (especially for me.)
AE: What are your main infrastructure goals for Auburn?
KP: There are certain bottlenecks during rush hour traffic that need to be addressed. Other than that, my main goal is to have a comprehensive emergency preparedness program in place, that all our residents have easy access to, and knowledge of, when the next disaster hits. Whether it’s an earthquake, volcano eruption, another ice storm, an electro magnetic pulse (EMP) that knocks out all the electrical power, or a big rock falls out of the sky. The most important thing we can do is take care of our residents during emergencies!
AE: How would you evaluate whether a new piece of public infrastructure in our city (road, bridge, etc.) would be worth implementing?
KP: It’s simple cost-benefit analysis.
AE: If elected, what steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?
KP: Reestablish priorities. Expected city services come first. Making sure we take care of those who take care of us, the first responders! Making sure they have all the tools they need. Non essential services are put at the back of the list. Vanity projects are put last in line.
AE: In looking at the city’s budget, what portions of the budget would you advocate to be increased, and which would you advocate to be decreased?
No answer submitted
AE: Peirce county (and South King County) has the fastest-growing housing markets in the state. As housing prices continue to rise, what is your plan for providing affordable housing?
KP: I don’t have one, that’s not the city council’s job, it’s the county’s job. The county receives the federal money grants for housing, not individual cities. The rise of housing costs is due to the gentrification of the entire county. Auburn is one of the last affordable places to live in King county. For all you ‘woke progressives’, that’s the cost of progress. In the near future, you’ll need to earn six figures a year in order to afford to live here.
AE: Should Auburn offer developers incentives to build affordable housing? If so, what kind?
KP: If the city of Auburn does, that housing wont stay affordable. Plus, the city isn’t going to invest in reduced property taxes. If you watch the city council meetings, ( I watch them on you tube) they are always looking for new revenue sources. I, myself, would like to find a way to reduce taxes, while increasing revenue. It’s possible!
AE: The city recently unveiled a public art installation at Les Gove Park, ‘Crow with Fries.’ How do you feel about public art?
KP: I haven’t seen it, yet, but have seen photographs of it. I’m fine with it. I like public art, especially sculpture. However, it should be financed by the private sector. The city’s contribution should be the space allowed, and that’s it.
AE: Some residents feel the amount spent on this sculpture was too much. Do you agree, if so, why?
No answer submitted
AE: There are several empty commercial spaces available throughout the city. Should Auburn offer incentives for businesses to come to Auburn? If so, what kind?
KP: It depends on which spaces, and the type of spaces you’re talking about. There’s no single solution that solves all problems. It’s more of a case by case situation. I think the free market will fix itself. There are other factors that the city has no control over, like state taxes, along with other state and county laws, rules, and regulations. Look at the Washington state gasoline tax and how that affects the cost of shipping.
AE: Do you think our Main Street/downtown is healthy and attractive to consumers? If not, what would you do to change that?
KP: Downtown has changed so much since I moved here. It was basically a railroad and agricultural center. I remember the dirty old railroad dives (bars) that are now a memory. The new parts of downtown are visually appealing, like city hall. However, I’ve seen drug dealers doing business right behind city hall. I miss the small town charm Auburn possessed at one time. Now, going downtown is a chore. If you don’t have a reserved parking space, it’s almost not worth the trip.
AE: How would you assist small businesses in Auburn?
KP: The most complaints I’ve received from small businesses concerns shoplifting. Thieves are stealing from these stores with impunity. Shoplifters get away and nothing seems to be done about it. Many of these businesses are considering relocation. They can’t cover the cost of these losses. One store told me they had a million dollars in losses due to theft last year, and are considering closing it’s doors. (If this store closes, it would be a big hit to Auburn’s economy!) Shoplifting falls under county jurisdiction, and the county refuses to prosecute misdemeanors. When Auburn police catch them, the county lets them go. “The costs of incarceration is too high for minor crimes.” The city does what it can. The changes need to be made at the county level.
AE: The Auburn Police Department recently had two fatal officer-involved shootings. What changes, if any, would you make to how these incidents were handled by both the police department and city officials?
KP: Since I don’t know the details of these incidents, I refuse to pass judgment, and have no comment on this matter. I won’t throw the police dept. ‘under the bus’ for political correctness. The Auburn Police Dept. will always have my support, and I will have their back, as they have always had our backs. Plus, we need a “broken windows” policy towards policing Auburn.
AE: If elected, what would be your suggestions to best address resident and business owner’s concerns related to crime?
KP: First of all, we need to take the handcuffs off the cops, and put them on the criminals. Let the cops do their jobs! Make sure they have all the tools they need to do their jobs. Police officers are not social workers. They are law enforcement. If the problem with putting criminals behind bars is some misguided policy of the county, then I will fight the county in order to protect our citizens, our families, our homes and businesses.
AE: Auburn’s homeless population is a concern for many residents and business owners. What are your suggestions to address these concerns, while also meeting the needs of these often vulnerable members of society?
KP: There’s no short answer to this problem, nor a ‘one size fits all’ solution. There needs to be a multi level approach to this problem. We could spend an hour alone on this issue, and I have a few good ideas. I’ve been homeless before, but didn’t stay that way. I scratched and clawed my way out of that life. Some people like the ‘hobo’ lifestyle. Others are using the ‘homeless’ disguise to sling drugs! First, we need to enforce our laws. End their shoplifting, enforce vagrancy and loitering ordnances. Get help for those who truly want help, chase off those who don’t. We’ve been a community of enablers for too long. That’s cruel! Enabling doesn’t help anyone, it only hurts people.
AE: If you are not elected, what would you do to try to help work on ideas or issues that are important to you?
KP: I would continue to be a volunteer chaplain for cancer patients. Then, I think I would like to hang out in front of Wal Mart and yell at all the kids to “Get off my Lawn!” That should be good for a few laughs, and a bunch of strange looks. Life is short, enjoy it!
We’ll be asking questions again in the general election. Is there something you think should be asked of the candidates? Email Vote2019@auburnexaminer.com to let us know and we’ll do our best to include your question!