In their own words: Why I want to be Mayor of Snoqualmie, Volume 4

This is the forth in a [hopeful] five-part series written by each Snoqualmie Mayoral candidate, explaining their goals and vision if elected. This piece is from Steve Pennington.

Five candidates have filed for the November general election, which means an August 1st primary will narrow the candidate field to the top two vote-getters. Primary ballots will be mailed beginning July 12th. They must be dropped off at ballot drop boxes (no postage necessary) or mailed by August 1st.  

Candidate Steve Pennington: Maximum Transparency, Taking Control of the Future

The City of Snoqualmie is entering an exciting new era. Instead of being completely guided by growth, we can now direct our focus on enriching the lives of our citizens and making our town an ever more wonderful place to live. After twelve years of marching towards the same goals, it is important that we update not only those goals, but our expertise as well. New eyes, new ideas.

Too much of the time it has felt like The Plan for the city has superseded the wishes of the residents, or even like the residents’ feedback is something to be avoided and disdained instead of embraced and integrated. Leadership needs to serve the people, or else it is missing the point entirely.

After fifteen years of working in the tech industry, leading highly effective teams and managing large software deployments, I turned my focus to my community. For the past eight years I’ve sat on boards and commissions, worked to advise and support local businesses, and built Steve’s Doughnuts from scratch. I know firsthand what it’s like to be a resident, a small business owner and a parent in Snoqualmie. We can and will do better going forward.

I believe in Maximum Transparency, and vow that as Mayor I will be accountable, active and available. Every voice will be heard, and every citizen will see their own priorities in the actions of their government. We will have top-down annual performance goals that tie every project, process and department to a clear community value-add. High-impact decisions will no longer be made in small groups, with minimal feedback, and then presented as an inevitable necessity.  Grocery stores, hotels and amphitheaters won’t come a surprise to residents, they will be discussed, negotiated and successfully integrated, or they won’t happen.

We are often told that growth is inevitable and we have to like it.  More specifically we are told that we won’t like the “or else” side of the equation. But we don’t ever seem to get a good explanation of what “or else” actually is. If the threat is higher taxes, but the mitigation is also higher taxes, then let’s talk numbers. If the threat is fewer services, but the mitigation is higher tax income from a grocery store and hotel, let’s talk necessity. But most importantly, let’s have the people make the decision.

I was asked recently about how to make Growth pay for Growth. The first step is to have a responsible, balanced budget. We can’t have our current requirements paid for by incoming development, it simply isn’t sustainable. Let’s agree on a level of services that we are comfortable with, then discuss each major growth project in terms of what new benefits we will gain. New growth = New gain. Let’s get off of the treadmill.

In simple business terms, the City of Snoqualmie is due for a healthy re-org. It is up to you, the voter to open your ballot, read your voter’s pamphlet and make the decision. We can continue status quo, or we can evolve. We can take what is presented as truly inevitable, or we can take control of the future. We can and will do better. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Steve Pennington |

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  • You say it so well – I couldn’t agree more.
    Matt Larson says
    * city is running at a deficit (a chart of two lines – no detail).
    * one-time income is ending
    * on-going income is needed
    * prevent revenue leakage is the answer
    Where it falls apart – lack of analysis.
    They are hiring a consultant for ~$40K to do retail analysis without bringing residents in as stakeholders (they are the customers). Some of the businesses aren’t happy with the city’s choice to not listen to them. The consultant chosen did an analysis for Issaquah, and residents were included as stakeholders. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the customers weigh in on what businesses are looking to locate in our retail centers, to weigh in on what kinds of businesses we recruit – at the board room level rather than a one way letter, or a limit of 3 minutes to speak with no responses.

    Example: buried in a city staffer’s file box for the Snoqualmie Ridge hotel is a real estate market review which states: “we expect that the coming increase in supply [of hotel rooms] will outpace growth in demand, reducing occupancy rates and intensifying price competition”.

    Recap – there is a market trend that says there are too many hotel rooms.
    Snoqualmie’s direction: 3 projects:
    * 250 rooms (Salish expansion)
    * 99 rooms (Snoqualmie Parkway)
    * 300 rooms (Snoqualmie Casino)
    649 additional rooms
    There has been no independent analysis made public that justifies the direction Snoqualmie is headed. To compound this, a hotel proposed in 2011 for North Bend and another hotel in Issaquah (no longer an active project) have not happened – why? There are a number of reasons why they are stopped or at a stand still, has there been that analysis by the city?

    There is a municipal code that says the city is supposed to evaluate any impacts to existing properties and Issaquah meets with appraisers and realtors for development – in all of the files we went through for the hotel project, we didn’t find anything comparable. The city says that the buffer was never intended to be permanent, but the analysis for storm water drainage incorporates that buffer in their calculations for storm water collection ponds.
    The environment impact study used for development is from 1995, before the ridge was developed.

    A friend who lives in Snoqualmie and has worked as a manager in the San Bernardino County assessors office for years, over the department that handles requests for re-assessments, and was a certified appraiser for years. Her concern about the hotel is, what if the hotel loses its franchise (as North Bend’s hotel did), could it become a Motel 6? (city confirmed they can’t force the franchise to be a Hampton Inn.) Another concern she has based on experience: what if the hotel isn’t sustainable (which she feels is a good possibility in a few years), there is nothing that says a city has failed more than a 5 story hotel on the main road coming into a city. However, the optics of smaller businesses with for lease signs – scattered around – aren’t as bad as a failed 5 story hotel on “main street”. North Bend optics of a 6 year delay in starting – at least with North Bend, they have only cleared the lot before coming to a stand still, there is news that they will start up again, however there is no evidence of that at the site.

    Another example from the hotel: the City of Issaquah had the same developer propose a hotel for Issaquah. Issaquah requires a sight analysis for existing residences to the hotel, Snoqualmie had the same architect as Issaquah’s architect; but Snoqualmie refused to provide a sight analysis after getting eight specific requests. I called the Community Development Director for Issaquah and asked if it would be prohibitive for Snoqualmie to provide that perspective, she said no.

    Decisions regarding development appears to be shoot from the hip, they have already made up their mind as to what they want, with little analysis, sometimes disregarding analysis.

    Another example – a 15 year contract to purchase electricity generated by wind mills with little analysis.
    I worked at the City of Riverside, who made 20 year contracts for about half of their electricity future purchases – after negotiating for 2 years. These negotiations were done by city employees who were professionals in the power generation / distribution industry. They understood power generation sources – pros and cons, and they took two years.
    I made a presentation to the city council about my concerns about their haste in making such a long commitment in such a short time, about the City of Riverside experience. As you can see the council approved the contract. Mayor Larson says they make 20 contract decisions all of the time, why hesitate to make the commitment.
    I’m not an industry professional – but I know that often things aren’t as simple as you think.

    Here is a link to when wind turbines can be a problem –

    I strongly agree that the current administration falls short on analysis.

  • Living Snoqualmie