Q&A: North Bend City Council Candidates Rustik & Tremolada Talk City Challenges, Affordable Housing and Issues that Made Them Decide to Run

The two candidates running for North Bend City Council Position # –1, the position currently held by Jonathan Rosen, Christina Rustik and Errol Tremolada, submitted answers to three questions we asked.

The answers below are in candidate alphabetical order. They were asked to keep answers under 300 words. After the Q&A, you will find a short bio for each candidate and a link to their websites.

The summer primary was held on August 1st. Ballots will be mailed out today, and November 7th will be the general election.

Question 1: How do you plan on addressing affordable housing for seniors and our local workforce if elected?

Christina: Any comprehensive and sustainable approach to affordable housing must address and reduce the cost to build housing, provide pathways to home ownership, and allow seniors to remain in their homes. 

Housing is considered affordable when it costs no more than 30% of a household’s gross annual income.  As one of the largest employers in North Bend, the school district average annual salary of $62,000 affords a $200,000 mortgage at $1550 per month while the average home price is over $900,000.

 Mixed use buildings, with commercial and residential units have become a popular, and in some cases an effective method to provide more affordable housing in downtown business districts.  However, a 1-bedroom apartment along N. Bend Way rents for $2150 per month, far above what the average school district salary could afford. 

Rental options are important but our approach to housing must include pathways to home ownership which results in personal investment in our community.  The City Council needs to find ways to work with developers to build smaller 1200-1500 square foot entry level homes more affordable for homebuyers.

Challenges to reduce the cost of housing include, the cost of land and infrastructure and the cost of materials and labor during construction.   I would support opportunities for the city to partner with builders on obtaining grants for land or infrastructure costs.   We should also consider alternative home designs and materials, and 55+ communities to allow for independent and affordable living with ease of access to amenities like the Senior Center and Parks. 

As we consider these alternative housing options, we need to make sure that future development is architecturally appealing and compliments surrounding neighborhoods.  Existing zoning, city codes, and legislation may need to be evaluated and modified to facilitate new approaches to address housing issues.

Errol: The only way we get any semblance of affordable housing is with significant infrastructure investment. I’d like to see a focus on density near downtown with a focus on walkability. It will likely require us to re-prioritize of our budget.

Currently, we’ve focused on having developers pay for these infrastructure improvements but that won’t lead to affordability. Developers underwrite properties to realize a profit. If there are off-site improvements or impact fees, they simply get baked into the underwriting and result in higher rental properties or purchase prices. I would also like to refocus our need on the true housing needs of North Bend, not that of Olympia. We need to take care of our own residents first.

I have questioned the numbers coming from the Growth Management Act in our Planning Commission meetings. These numbers need to be vetted further as they do not take into account our town’s unique environmental, topographical and natural constraints. Our true housing need is likely much lower than the numbers required by the GMA and I think a more dialed approach to North Bend’s actual housing demand will not only be more achievable but financially prudent.

Question 2: What do you feel are the city’s biggest challenges, and how do you plan to address them?

Christina: Since May, I have attended most city council meetings, personally talked to over 50% of voter’s going doors to door, at the Farmers Market and local summer festivals.  I also met with city staff, business owners, and advocates for seniors.  What I heard is the most significant challenges are #1 growth and infrastructure, #2 economic development and #3 diverse housing.

As a City Coucilmember, I will draw on my skills and experience developed over a 30-year career at Boeing as well as knowledge gained as a community volunteer to ensure the following; 

Responsible planning, and effectively managing growth, ensuring that we have sufficient infrastructure in place, and that any impacts of development are identified and adequately mitigated.  This includes:

  • Providing sufficient funding, staffing, facilities, and equipment for public safety and our first responders.
  • Safe parking, traffic management, and walkways near schools for our students and families. 
  • Sufficient water and sewer capacity to support growth and development. 

Our approach to growth must address all of these aspects or we risk failing our citizens like many other cities have failed theirs.

Seeking opportunities for economic development that complements and enhances the unique attributes of North Bend.

As a member of the Economic Development Commission, I understand the challenges local businesses face with signage, parking and sufficient labor.  It has been great seeing new businesses start up in our downtown and I will continue to work with members of the Chamber of Commerce and the North Bend Downtown Foundation to explore new ideas for business growth.

In order to have a sustainable community that will attract and retain future business owners and employees we need to plan for a variety of housing options.  This includes housing that is affordable to our local workforce.

Errol: The biggest challenge for North Bend is most definitely financial sustainability. I don’t think we’ll be able to meet the requirements of the GMA and frankly I’m not sure we should. Many cities across Washington, including our neighbors in Carnation, have already said they will not meet the GMA.

If we’re going to chart a different path then I want to be sure we have the financial wherewithal to do so. We’ve been very fortunate to receive a number of grants from the state and county but those grants are not guaranteed year over year. We need to invest in infrastructure to spur more commercial development that will raise a supportable tax base.

Residential growth without balanced commercial growth will inevitably lead to relying on King County and Olympia to pay our bills. Residential growth requires a higher level of service in your community and without appropriate revenue streams we cannot sustain. Investing in infrastructure will also allow us to stimulate more small business development. We need to make it easier for businesses to get off the ground and grow here in North Bend. In order to support these businesses, we need a more comprehensive approach to tourism. We are renowned for our outdoor recreation yet we collect a marginal amount of money from our visitors.

We need to make sure people are stopping at our small businesses before and/or after they head up Mt Si, out the Middle Fork, up to Rattlesnake Lake or up the Pass. I’d also like to see a stronger relationship with the Snoqualmie Tribe. They are expanding a world class hotel at the casino and we ought to be strategic economic partners with them.

Question 3: What issue(s) made you decide to run (or run again) for the city council?

Christina: I believe that there are many things that the city does very well!  Many people that I’ve talked to in the community agree that increasing sidewalks has improved walkability, safety, and access to parks and trails.  It has been great seeing new businesses start up in our downtown, and people love our community events such as the North Bend Block Party, Blues Walk, Sip Suds & Si and the Art Fair.  The presence, professionalism, and service of our First Responders has been excellent, is appreciated, and must continue to be a priority for us. 

I will continue to build on these strengths as a City Councilmember.  Growth remains the top concern for residents as it directly impacts affordability, mobility, safety and overall quality of life.  I am running to preserve the rich history and character of North Bend, to advocate for responsible and balanced growth, and to ensure that North Bend remains a great community for families and business to thrive.

I am a lifelong Washingtonian who have called North Bend home for over ten years.  I have lived in other communities around the area which have grown too fast and negatively impacted resident’s safety and quality of life.   North Bend is a wonderful community and I hope to keep it that way for generations to come.  With a 30-year career in engineering, project management and leadership and a lifetime of community involvement, I believe I have the experience, skills, and perspective to help us face the challenges ahead.   I appreciate your vote in this election and look forward to shaping the future of our community together

Errol: The main reason I wanted to run for City Council was to represent the voice of younger growing families in North Bend. To my knowledge, most of Council had already seen their children move on from Mt Si High School and I think being a working parent with three children under the age of 7 gives me a certain perspective on investing in the future of North Bend. I’ve also spent my entire 18-year career in commercial real estate and I understand what it takes to develop effectively. During the first 15 years of my career, I worked almost exclusively with small/mid-sized businesses and regional non-profits. I understand how commercial real estate can either hinder or accelerate small business growth.

After filing on May 15th, I was reinvigorated with my decision to run when Chief Perry Phipps departed the Snoqualmie Police Department in early July without consultation of the North Bend City Council. Had I not already been campaigning; this would have induced me to file as well. Upwards of $6M is spent on police services by North Bend and yet not a single member of our City Council was consulted let alone notified. Each seat on Council represents the voters of North Bend. When a decision is made without their consultation that means our tax dollars are being spent without our representation. We should not be playing little brother to Snoqualmie when our future in North Bend is so bright.

We should be charting our own course and I’d like to see a feasibility study done prior to extending another contract with Snoqualmie. What would it take to stand up our own police department? Or what would a regional partnership look like similar to Eastside Fire? With so much of our budget being spent on these police services we need representation and accountability.

Candidate Bios with websites (if available) are linked to their name below.

Christina: Education: BS Mechanical Engineering University of Washington, Master of Business University of Phoenix

Practiced Skills & Qualifications:  Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Washington

Community Involvement:  North Bend Economic Development Committee member, Lifelong Girl Scout Leader, Cedar Falls North Bend HOA board member & President, Youth Success Mentor for Snoqualmie Valley Schools

Occupation:  Senior Leader, Boeing Commercial Airplanes  

Over my 30+ years with The Boeing Company, I have worked as an engineer, project manager and leader in the Facilities and Boeing Commercial Airplanes organizations.  I have experience in budgeting, planning, engineering, and project management for all of the equipment, buildings and infrastructure needed to build airplanes.  I balance the near term and future needs of over 20,000 employees, along with the priorities and strategies of the company.  I have led teams of employees managing multi-million dollar building and infrastructure modifications in a fast paced manufacturing environment. In my current assignment I am responsible for growing and developing the employee pipeline and providing guidance and analytics to support business planing and decisions across the Puget Sound. 

In my personal life, I am a wife and mother of adult children and treasure the time we spend together.  We enjoy hiking and biking our Snoqualmie Valley trails, walking along the river, patronizing local businesses and attending sporting events.  We are lifelong Puget Sound residents and have called North Bend home for the past 10 years.

Errol: I’ve spent 18 years in commercial real estate leasing, sales and development. I’ve represented small business owners to large corporate clients all across the United States. I understand the wants and needs of both developers and small towns. 

 I hold a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley in Political Science, brokerage licenses in CA and WA and was one of the first LEED Accredited Professionals in San Francisco in 2008. I moved to North Bend with my wife and three children. I’m diligently involved in Snoqualmie Valley LIttle League as a head coach and sit on the Board of Directors as the Coaching & Player Development Director.

My family is also active with the Ignite Dance Team, SNVYSA, Si View Recreational Basketball and the Si View Swim Lesson Program. I’m an avid biker and trail runner. In my spare time, I enjoy smoking meat, craft beer and wine. 

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