By Mellow DeTray
At Tuesday night’s (Nov. 15, 2022) Kent City Council meeting, local lawmakers issued proclamations and recognitions, heard about the Police Department’s anti-theft operation, councilmember salaries, sewer lining project and more.
Proclamations & Recognitions
The meeting began with three Proclamations: the first recognizes the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday, when the community is encouraged to make a day of supporting locally owned shops & restaurants. 95% of Kent’s businesses have less than 100 employees, and ⅔ of Kent’s businesses have less than ten employees. These businesses account for 62% of the community’s jobs. There is evidence that getting people out to local businesses on Small Business Saturday encourages them to support the businesses for the rest of the year as well.
The second Proclamation commemorates Holodomor Remembrance Day, November 26th, in remembrance of the genocide committed by Russia in Ukraine. Holodomor, which means murder by starvation, took place 89 years ago and marks one of the darkest times in Ukraine’s history. Over 5 million people starved to death in one year. The Proclamation recognizes that Russia’s current war on Ukraine has displaced nearly 7 million people, creating the fastest growing refugee crisis since World War 2. There are around 80,000 Ukrainians in Washington State, with over 4,000 living in Kent.
The final Proclamation is to honor Transgender Day of Remembrance, on November 20th, commemorating the lives lost to anti-transgender violence, and to recognize November 13th-19th as Transgender Awareness Week. This year, 51 transgender people in the US have been killed, and around 1,000 have been killed internationally. The Proclamation underscores that the City of Kent recognizes the inherent human rights of all people, and supports an end to all forms of prejudice, discrimination, and violence.
There will also be a Japanese Internment Remembrance Gallery at the Washington State Fairgrounds, honoring all those who were interned along the White River Valley, including Kent. It has been 80 years since the executive order that led to the internment of Japanese American families across the West Coast. Around 120,000 people were relocated to the internment camps during a three year period, where they were held in deplorable conditions. Most lost their homes and businesses during this dark time in American history. The Washington State fairgrounds served as one of these internment camps, holding over 7,000 people, so it is fitting that the Remembrance Gallery will be at that location.
Graduates of Kent 101 Civics Academy were celebrated with a diploma and photo with the City Council. These grads completed a program where they met Thursday evenings to learn about all departments of the city. Another round of this Kent 101 civics program will begin in early spring 2023.
The Kent Police Department has been partnering with some larger retailers in an anti-theft operation. This operation targeted repeated, chronic, and organized theft. Fred Meyer has experienced over $2.2 million in losses to theft since February, and 20 people were arrested at that location. 11 arrests were made at Lowe’s, the other business in partnership. Several more businesses have requested to partner with the police as well, so there will be similar operations to come.
Three new officers were sworn in to the Kent Police Department, presented by the recently promoted Assistant Chief Matt Stansfield.
There was some disagreement about putting in place an independent salary commission, with two councilmembers worried the commission would raise salaries and hurt an already stretched budget. Kent councilmembers receive nearly the lowest compensation in King County. An independent salary commission is standard for most cities, and Kent had one in place until 2015. The salary commission passed 5–2.
Council showed unanimous support for a sanitary sewer lining project, which will proactively repair over a mile of sewer pipe. The project, costing over $740,000, involves removing sections of pipe and installing an adhesive resin lining. The bid was under budget, and will be much cheaper than replacing the whole line.
The 2023-2024 Biennial Budget passed unanimously.
Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for ten years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and to work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.