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2019 Auburn City Council Candidates – Final Questions

We sent out these final five questions to the current seven Auburn City Council Candidates.  Each of these candidates will appear on the November 5th ballot.  You can read the previous questions we posed to each of the candidates here.

For further information on each candidate, check out our Vote 2019 section.  Don’t forget, your ballot is due back November 5th by 8pm.  If you have not yet mailed it in, it is recommended you utilize a ballot drop box to ensure your vote is counted.

Final Candidate Questions:

Candidate responses listed in the order they appear on the ballot.

 

Chris Stearns (Auburn City Council Position No. 1):  No response provided


James Jeyaraj (Auburn City Council Position No. 3):

Auburn Examiner: What have you learned during your time campaigning?

James Jeyaraj: The most important thing I’ve learned while campaigning is that when you speak from the heart, people listen. Balancing campaigning, work and a personal life is a challenge, but learning how engaged, welcoming, and interested our residents are has been a truly rewarding experience.

AE: What have you learned about the city of Auburn and its residents during your time campaigning?

JJ: I’ve learned that Auburn is a more diverse city than I knew. Our residents are honest, hardworking people who want a safe, clean city that they’re proud to call home.

AE: Have any of your positions changed during your time campaigning?

JJ: Meeting Auburn residents, listening to their concerns, and answering their questions has kept me on my toes, but reinforced my positions. My interactions with residents showed me that they also also believe that only by facing today’s challenges of homelessness, affordable housing, and the opioid crisis can we improve the quality of life for all people in Auburn.

AE: Why are you the best choice for this position?

JJ: I have private sector planning and project management experience in the aerospace industry. For the last few years I’ve served in the public sector as a member of the Auburn Parks and Recreation Board. I campaigned for Nancy Backus in the 2017 Mayoral race. Late in 2017, I founded a political group that brought Auburn residents together with candidates running for state and federal office in the 2018 election and also helped elect Representative Kim Schrier. I’m the best choice for Auburn City Council Position No. 3 because I’ve got the experience to do the job.

AE: Why is voting important?

JJ: I’ve heard people say that their vote doesn’t matter, but not voting guarantees that you’ll have no voice in forging our future. This is especially true now, when the margin between victory and defeat in some elections nationally has been a handful of votes. Your vote is your voice, and every vote matters.


Ken Pearson (Auburn City Council Position No. 3):  No response provided


Robyn Mulenga (Auburn City Council Position No. 5):

AE: What have you learned during your time campaigning?

Robyn Mulenga:  During my time campaigning for city council position no. 5, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and hear the things that are important to them.  I’ve learned that it’s important to stay connected to the community.  My vision for this position is to be a conduit for issues that are important to our residents.  As a school board director, I have listened to the community and moved initiatives forward.   And I plan to continue doing this, if elected, as a city council member.

AE: What have you learned about the city of Auburn and its residents during your time campaigning?

RM: The residents of Auburn are very friendly, welcoming and supportive.  We have an inviting, caring, city where people are ready to help each other.  I’ve learned that our residents really enjoy living in this city and have great suggestions of how to make things better.  During my time going door-to-door, residents let me know they want to see the downtown area revitalized.  They want additional options to shop and dine in.  And they want an end to homelessness with mental health treatment available to those that need it.  These things are a priority for our community, and I plan to address these issues and more.

AE: Have any of your positions changed during your time campaigning?

RM: My positions have been strengthened during my time campaigning.  Speaking with numerous Auburn residents showed me that I am in touch with the issues that are important to them.  My determination for solving issues like homelessness, addressing crime and revitalizing the downtown is greater, especially knowing that these same issues are important to the community and people are supportive of the solutions I will implement if elected.

AE: Why are you the best choice for this position?

RM: I know how to work well with others, and I will get things done for our community.  My time on the Auburn School Board as District Director no. 2 has provided me with invaluable experience and I am ready to increase my sphere of influence now as a city council member to continue to affect changes within our city.  In addition to my work on the School Board, I also serve on the Cities and Schools Forum where I am helping to drive diversity for a more inclusive community.  I believe it’s essential to create an environment where all people feel accepted. For the past three years, I have worked in partnership with my fellow school board directors to introduce a racial equity policy in the district.   I have also had some influence with the city council, and they are now working on introducing a racial equity policy for the city.

AE: Why is voting important?

RM: Voting is important because the people we elect into positions of authority make decisions that affect all of us.  All voices need to be considered when deciding who those people should be.  I encourage everyone to vote and let your voice be heard on November 5th.  I ask for your vote.


Ryan Burnett (Auburn City Council Position No. 5):

AE: What have you learned during your time campaigning?

Ryan Burnett: A few things, we have a very diverse community with many points of view. The majority of people I speak to when doorbelling agree that we want the city cleaned up, we want to see some real attempts at solutions for the homeless crisis and we want to see crime diminish in our city.

AE: What have you learned about the city of Auburn and its residents during your time campaigning?

RB: Again, we are a very diverse community from many ethnicities, backgrounds and income levels, but it seems like everyone is concerned for the future of our city.

AE: Have any of your positions changed during your time campaigning?

RB: I have not changed any of my positions.

AE: Why are you the best choice for this position?

RB: I feel I am a skilled leader with a strong ability to work in a team environment. I am focused on finding solutions and building relationships with those that can aid in moving our city forward toward a sustainable long term vision.

AE: Why is voting important?

RB: This could get lengthy, but I will keep it simple. The decisions your city council and your mayor make often affect your everyday lives far more than the president’s decisions. I have talked to many that tell me they only vote in the presidential election. I try to talk to them about the importance of voting locally as often as I can when I hear this.

 


Robert (Bob) Baggett (Auburn City Council Position No. 7):

AE: What have you learned during your time campaigning?

Bob Baggett: I have learned that most of the people that I have spoken to are most concerned about the homeless and opioid addiction problems within our city, and were not aware that we will soon have a new Auburn Resource Center to offer one-stop-shop services dealing with these issues, and will provide temporary and transitional sheltering and other health and human services in a centralized location.

AE: What have you learned about the city of Auburn and its residents during your time campaigning?

BB: Serving as a Councilmember, I am constantly in touch with the various city departments that service the needs of the city and its residents.  Also, listening to my constituents about their concerns and their praises that keep me focused on those things that need attention and those things that myself and my fellow Councilmembers are doing right.  Our city is growing at an annual rate of 4,000 to 6,000 residents each year.  We are now a city of more than 84,000 people, and this growth requires that we not only deal with current issues, but also plan and provide resources for the future.  We are a very diverse city, and we will need different perspectives from all of our residents if we are going to continue on the road to success and prosperity.

AE: Have any of your positions changed during your time campaigning?

BB: Not really; however, my focus on certain issues has perhaps changed my priorities for problems that face our city and its residents such as homelessness, opioid addiction, and behavioral health.  These issues were not as prevalent when I first ran for election four years ago, but are at the top of my list for resolution today.  My motto when I began serving as your Councilmember was that I was “Motivated to Serve”, and that has remained unchanged today.  I am committed to being a servant leader in our community by listening to my constituents and seeking common-sense solutions to resolve our city’s issues.
 

AE: Why are you the best choice for this position?

BB: I believe that I am the best candidate for this position based upon my experience, my education, and my strong desire to continue serving our Auburn community.  Also, serving on a number of local and regional Boards and Committees, I have gained a new perspective on the roles that our city plays, and how our city relates to the other 38-cities in the Puget Sound region.

 AE: Why is voting important?

BB: Voting is a privilege in our country, and I believe that everyone of legal age should be registered and participate in this very important process.  The people seeking various offices and positions that are presented to the voting public are the individuals that, if elected, will represent you during their term, and careful consideration should be given to your selections.  There are also initiatives and other ballot measures that can and will affect everyone young and old and should be thoroughly reviewed before your vote is cast.  Voting is the backbone of our democratic form of government and represents the voice of the people.

Vera Orlandic-Hodak (Auburn City Council Position No. 7): No response provided

Each candidate’s answers are published as they were provided to the Auburn Examiner and have not been edited. If a candidate did not submit a response it is notated as such. If a candidate noted they were purposefully not answering a question we notated that the candidate declined to answer. We feel it is important to clarify this difference.

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