BurienCity emailed these questions to each of the 17 candidates for Burien City Council seats. Jimmy Matta, who is running for Position 3, recently got back to us. We will post answers from each candidate as they respond.
Name: Jimmy Matta
Current occupation: Project Manager
Where are you from?
I was born in Idaho and spent most of my childhood in Quincy, Wenatchee, and Ephrata.
How long have you lived in Burien?
I moved to Burien in 1998 and have called this city home for nearly 20 years.
In your opinion, what is the best thing about Burien?
I originally moved to Burien because I liked the diversity and friendliness of the community. For me, the people who live here are what makes Burien such a great place.
– How will you encourage this aspect of our city?
I would like to focus on growing Burien as a community by celebrating our diversity and working on bringing people together. As a city council member, this would start with me and how I interact with Burien residents. I believe in being open and transparent and would like to work with engaging all of the different groups in the policy making and formulation process. I will also work with the council to ensure that our budget making process is transparent as well, and that Burien residents have the opportunity to participate. I also want to look to community oriented approaches when it comes to tackling some of the issues we face in this city, including improving the number and quality of community events every year. I strongly believe that when the community takes ownership and gets engaged that we can solve problems in a way that people are happy with.
What do you think is the most important issue facing Burien today?
I think that growing our local economy is the biggest issue facing Burien. We have a poverty rate that is significantly higher than the nation average, which exacerbates other issues such as public safety, access to housing, and even education.
– How will you address this issue?
I would like to focus on growing our local economy and I believe that we can do this by investing in skills training and small business development programs. First, I would like the city of Burien to collaborate with our local schools, businesses, and organizations to develop programs that will provide Burien residents with the skills training they need to get good living wage jobs. I believe that having a well-trained workforce will not only increase the average incomes of those who live in our community, but could also encourage new businesses to locate here. Second, I would like to see us invest in small business development programming that will help current and future small business owners here in Burien.
What else could we improve, as a community?
Access to affordable housing is a huge concern for people in our community, and I would like to work on expanding the number of options available for Burien residents. This is an issue that is facing not just our low-income individuals but, our elderly who are on fixed incomes, recent graduates with college debt, and single parent families. I would like to explore ways to encourage new development to expand affordable housing options while also working to maintain the integrity of our single-family neighborhoods.
How will you support the growth of small businesses?
As a business owner, I want Burien to be a city that encourages new business and makes it easy for them to succeed. It’s our mom and pop businesses that give Burien the character our city has and I know many of those businesses could use additional assistance in navigating our regulatory systems. When I speak with business owners here in Burien, I hear about how the biggest obstacle for them is understanding all the rules, ordinances, and tax codes that they need to follow. To that end, I would support a full or part time position that is focused on small business development in the city and providing them with the tools, training, and programs they need to be successful.
What is the best way to reduce crime and improve safety?
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to sit down with a few members of our police force here in Burien and I was impressed by how much they truly care about our community. The amount of knowledge and dedication they exhibited really made me feel safe and proud of our police. I want everyone on our community to have that same experience and share that same feeling that I had. I believe that we can do this by focusing on developing strong community policing programs in our city. Community policing works. The more people are engaged with their local police force and judicial systems, the better those communities are at preventing crime from happening. By developing these relationships, we create an environment where community members feel safer and our police are able to do their jobs more effectively.
How should we address the issue of homelessness?
Yes, homelessness is a serious problem and needs our immediate attention and action. This is a complex multifaceted issue that will require us to collaborate with other cities, organizations, and social service agencies. It will require all of us to work together to find effective and practical solutions that don’t just address the symptoms, but actually target the causes. The causes of homelessness include but are not limited to; mental health, addiction, domestic abuse, crime, poverty and lack of affordable housing. It is also important to recognize that homelessness affects more than just those people we see sleeping on the street, but extends to those who are living out of their vehicles or are sleeping on the couches and floors of friends and family. These problems cannot be solved in isolation and we must work with others to develop solid policies and programs that make a significant difference in reducing the homeless population. My top priorities will all help to alleviate some of the causes of homelessness. I want to focus on growing our economy and creating a place where business and people can both thrive. We need to look at working with local schools and organizations to develop training programs to ensure that the people who live here have the skills to get living wage jobs. I also want to see us create more affordable housing options for working families and people who are on fixed incomes. Finally, I would like to develop a strong community policing program that creates an environment where people are able to seek and receive help when they need it most.
What steps should we take to become more environmentally responsible?
Having a clean and healthy environment is critical for the health of our community. If elected to city council, I would look for ways to incentivize and promote the use of clean and renewable energy. I would like to work on promoting low impact development for any new building projects. We should also continue to invest in parks and open spaces for our community to enjoy. Investing in improvements to public transportation and continuing to push forward with our complete streets minded approach to future transportation investments.
What other goals do you have for your 4-year term, if elected?
We must work together to build a strong community that all of us can be proud of. I would like to work on healing some of the divisiveness that exists within our community, because I believe that a united community can solve any problem that it faces. I want to help create a community where everyone can participate without fear of violence, ridicule, or being ignored. I will do this by keeping an open mind and listening to everyone who has concerns or ideas on how to improve our city. I believe that regardless of how we look, where we come from, or what our beliefs are, that we all want the same thing for our community. We want a place where we can live, work, play, be safe, and provide for ourselves and our families. My family is why I am running for office. I want to work with the people of Burien to provide the best community and future that is possible for my children. Please join me, and together we will move Burien into the future.