Burien City Council Candidate: Martin Culbert Q&A

BurienCity emailed these questions to each of the 17 candidates for Burien City Council seats. Martin Culbert, who is running for Position 7, recently got back to us. We will post answers from each candidate as they respond.

Name: Martin Culbert

Current occupation:

I own Culbert Consulting, LLC.  We train companies and organizations in leadership skills, productive time management, & conflict resolution through effective communications. We also provide career mentoring for individuals and groups.

Where are you from?

I was born in Guatemala, raised in Tucson, AZ, and I consider Burien home.

How long have you lived in Burien?

I have lived in Burien for 27 years. My wife and I arrived in the summer of 1990 with our eldest daughter. My youngest daughter was born here.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about Burien?

Burien has many wonderful attributes; I will highlight two of my favorites. First, I love our small town feel and the way so many people are connected in multiple ways. Many of us consistently run in to each other in many different aspects of our daily lives. Second, I have been thrilled to watch our downtown grow and become a vibrant destination for visiting and shopping. We have come so far since we incorporated fourteen years ago – we need to keep moving forward.

How will you encourage this aspect of our city?

My top priority in office will be for Burien to grow in sustainable ways. To grow, we need two things.

To enhance our small town neighbor style, we need more events where neighborhoods can connect. We need to better advertise these opportunities, and we need to intentionally reach out to our diverse communities so they can lead and fully participate in all events.

Secondly, in order to make Burien an even more attractive destination, we need to foster our small businesses and industries.  We are an affordable location for entrepreneurs but need to build more structures to help those entrepreneurs to succeed. We also need an ongoing “Buy Burien” campaign.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Burien today?

I believe that the most important issue facing Burien is our divisiveness – our fear of “other.” It is a societal issue and greater than our own community, but that makes it no less a Burien issue. It is this fear that leads to a lack of empathy for those less fortunate – homeless, or addicted, or poor or simply different. We need to pull together and truly become the united community Burien can be.

How will you address this issue?

The ability to deal with our fear comes with getting to know those that are different. The more we get to know those who are different from us, the more we realize that we are the same. We all want the same things from our community: a safe, affordable, quiet place in which to live. The more community events we have, the more chances we have to get together and get to know one another.

The Strawberry Festival is a great example of Burien starting to come together.  Can we be even more inclusive of our diverse populations in the Strawberry Festival?  Let’s find important international holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo and work with our diverse population to come together as one community, as opposed to separate communities.

What else could we improve, as a community?

After decades of decline, crime rates are on a rise across the nation. This has been noticeable in Burien and in our region. One of the roots to our rising crime rates is our homelessness epidemic. There are specific things we can do in Burien to improve but we need to act in three directions at once.

Addiction, especially opioid addiction, has been ruining lives locally as well as nationally. This crisis drives up our homelessness, increases violence, and leads to car prowls and other crimes. We need to work with our neighboring cities and the county to deal with the problem.

Mental illness has been losing support for a long time. Without other options, those with mental issues are turned loose to live in our streets, again, increasing violence, and leading to car prowls and other crimes. To deal with this issue we need to work with individuals to find out how we can provide services so they can become contributing members of our community.

Finally, we need to increase our supply of affordable housing. We are making improvements but not enough. We can provide relief through zoning allowances as well as encouraging additional dwelling units on existing properties where appropriate.

None of the solutions to our homelessness problem are simple fixes. There are many volunteer and religious organizations working on these problems, and how we find effective solutions to these problems remains to be seen. What has worked or not worked for other cities and towns in the area may or may not work for Burien. Also we don’t have the resources on our own to truly solve these issues; we need to work with other local small cities and pool resources.

How will you support the growth of small businesses?

Puget Sound has many wonderful free resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs. They were instrumental to the start of Culbert Consulting, LLC. The city of Burien needs to do a better job of connecting all our business permit applicants to these resources in a pro-active manner. We can also set up local mentorships to support new small business owners. We should review our permitting and application processes to make sure they are as easy to use as possible. Culbert Consulting, LLC had a very easy time getting the necessary permits. I have heard other businesses find it far more difficult.

What is the best way to reduce crime and improve safety?

In addition to the homelessness solutions I discussed above, we can find some low cost options to improve our neighborhoods and businesses. We are starting to see some wonderful collaboration between citizens and our police force. We can highlight those successes and create more similar groups to increase the impact.

How should we address the issue of homelessness?

There are three issues driving our regional homelessness crisis; drug addiction, inadequate mental health support, and a lack of affordable housing.

The crime and homelessness questions are connected. Please see the previous question about community improvement for my thoughts in this area. You can find a deeper response to this topic in my response to “What else could we improve, as a community?”s

What steps should we take to become more environmentally responsible?

Again, we have many resources in our area to help us with this – and we need to use them. The best base for environmental responsibility is education, both for adults and for our students. Linking the resources and the citizens is critical for our community for learn and grow in this area.

What other goals do you have for your 4 year term, if elected?

I look forward to building an environment of respect and collaboration on the Burien City Council.  I am eager to define areas where we can get unanimous support and backing for projects and efforts. I also look forward to the challenge of applying my time management and productivity training tools so we can move Burien back to the effectiveness found in previous administrations.

More information about Martin Culbert can be found on his PDC page, and by emailing him at culbert4citycouncil@gmail.com

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