This is the first in a [hopeful] five-part series, written by each Snoqualmie Mayoral candidate, explaining their goals and vision if elected. Brad Toft authors this first guest article.
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 Brad Toft: Prioritizing a “can-do” approach to Economic Development
For the first time in over a decade, Snoqualmie residents will have a choice when we go to vote for Mayor. I have chosen to run for office because I have a vision for our city. Across Snoqualmie, people believe the current administration has taken us as far as it can. Our city isn’t broken, but it’s become flat-footed and at times fails to listen. City Hall needs to be a place where ideas flourish rather than be smothered by lengthy accounts of how it’s always been done. We can start spending more time thinking about the future, and we should start right now.
This election is defined by the city’s challenges in regional cooperation and connecting with residents and businesses. There has been little from city hall on the topics of growth and the local economy. Recently, our city voted to raise property taxes. There are proposed tax increases on the ballot in King County this Fall. Some voters are having buyer’s remorse, wondering why growing tax revenues from the Puget Sound Region’s economic rush are still not enough to fund government budgets.
There are solutions to the challenges we face. Vision, setting priorities and listening to partners are where to start. As Mayor, I will reset the relationships with our regional partners like the Snoqualmie Tribe and city of North Bend so that we can make more progress on regional goals in the Snoqualmie Valley. And when it comes to the budget, I will ensure the city lives within its means, rather than rely on jumping from growth to growth with tax increases in between to make budgets balance. If we set priorities properly, we will have what we need to fund the things that matter most.
My top priority as Mayor will be taking a “can-do” approach to economic development. This will help existing businesses, and add businesses that improve citizens lives, create jobs, and broaden the city’s tax revenue. It is one of our defenses against property tax increases. Snoqualmie has room to grow, but growth should remain in character with this majestic place that has a wonderful history to retain.
It has been said the city is doing everything it can to grow our economy. Spending $10,000 on a study to build a $400,000 treehouse-visitor-center in downtown Snoqualmie is waste, not growth. As Mayor, I will repair the relationship with our existing businesses by developing common goals and sticking with them. In addition, I will lead the effort to recruit new businesses that are just the right fit for our future. I will look at every possible way we can speed up the process to stimulate our downtown, so it reaches its potential as the crown jewel tourism attraction of Snoqualmie.
There are plans in the works to expand the YMCA community center, which I support. The belief with the current leadership is tax hikes are needed to fund the construction. But the fact is if the city is willing to set priorities, it currently has the revenues to pay for the expansion without raising taxes. Other cities in our region re-prioritize spending based on needs, and if I am elected Mayor, Snoqualmie will start doing the same.
It is also important to mention that Snoqualmie parents are concerned about their children’s education, as well as their future. As Mayor and a parent with children in our public schools, I will join with our families to advocate for programming strategies that prepare our kids and give them options for their future.
These issues, among others, should be the basis for an energetic discussion about the future of Snoqualmie that includes everyone. Progress should be protected and old assumptions can be challenged. I will lead our conversation on priorities, and engage the public so that we have a great future to aspire to.
I encourage you to reach out to me directly or visit www.bradtoftformayor.com to learn more about my positions on the opportunities facing Snoqualmie. And I would appreciate your vote when ballots go in the mail July 12th.
~ Brad Toft