BurienCity emailed these questions to each of the 17 candidates for Burien City Council seats. Charles Schaefer, who is running for Position 1, was the first to get back to us. We will post answers from each candidate as they respond.
Name: Charles Schaefer
Current occupation: Accountant
Where are you from? I was born and raised right here in Burien!
How long have you lived in Burien? 28 years.
In your opinion, what is the best thing about Burien? I think our city has a fantastic mix of things to appeal to everyone: a great environment (especially Seahurst park), a variety of unique small businesses, proximity to Seattle and the airport, and a small-town atmosphere even with a population of 50,000.
– How will you encourage this aspect of our city? I think it is important to maintain the balance we currently have. I want to make sure our permitting process and taxation is done in a way that is fair toward our small businesses and low-income residents and that our environment is protected from the airport and other sources of pollution.
What do you think is the most important issue facing Burien today? Public safety.
– How will you address this issue? I have proposed a plan to fund additional police officers and other public safety strategies without raising taxes or cutting other services.
What else could we improve, as a community? As a candidate, I’ve noticed that some in our community need to be more respectful of those with whom they disagree. I’ve tried my best in my campaign to be positive toward the other candidates, even those running against me. As a councilmember I would model the behavior I hope to see from our residents.
How will you support the growth of small businesses? Reduce the B&O tax to attract businesses to Burien. I’d rather have many businesses each paying a small amount in tax than a few businesses that are being over taxed.
What is the best way to reduce crime and improve safety? Hiring more police is at least going to be one component of a successful strategy, however we also need to reevaluate our enforcement priorities to focus on violent and serious property crimes over nuisance offenses. As I mentioned above, I’m also open to funding any other strategies that would have a demonstrable reduction in crime.
How should we address the issue of homelessness? We need to leverage the non-profit groups we have in our city, such as Transform Burien where I volunteer on Fridays serving a meal to our less fortunate residents. We also need to address the fact that regressive property taxes are taxing our affordable housing renters out of their homes.
What steps should we take to become more environmentally responsible? Hold people accountable for damaging the environment. Make sure all city construction meets environmental standards, like our LEED certified city hall does.
What other goals do you have for your 4 year term, if elected? It’s really important to me to work to reduce or eliminate the polarization on the council. I want to sit down one-on-one with each of the other council members on a regular basis to find areas of agreement that we can move forward on. It seems to me like some on opposing sides of the current council don’t even talk to each other. I also will make it a priority to make council deliberations more accessible to citizens who might not be able to attend on Monday evenings.