Here’s our recap of the Kent City Council meeting held on Tuesday night, Jan. 16, 2024:

Employee Of The Month

The award for January Employee of the Month went to Brooks Chatterton, who has worked in Maintenance since March 2022. He was promoted in 2023, and honored this month for consistently going above and beyond in his duties. He has a strong work ethic, and brings great positivity to any collaboration. Mayor Dana Ralph said he has the effect of putting everyone around him in a good mood. In response, Chatterton said this is a great place to work, and he’s never been happier.

Proclamation: Kent Rotary’s 65th Anniversary

The Rotary Club of Kent was established in 1958 and has since been involved in many positive things for the community. Programs they have contributed to include Music4Life, Backpack BuddiesHarvest Against Hunger, numerous scholarships, and back to school supply drives. The city of Kent is grateful for the work the Rotary Club has done to benefit the community over the last 65 years.

Proclamation: Human Trafficking Awareness & Prevention Month

According to the proclamation, the average ages of children being forced, coerced, or tricked into sex trafficking is 12-14 for girls, and 11-13 for boys. However, trafficking victims can be any age, race, gender, or immigration status. Traffickers target victims through social media, chat groups, and everyday activities in the community. Human trafficking is tied with illegal arms dealing as the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, after drug dealing, and it’s quickly on the rise. It is modern-day slavery.

Prevention as well as helping victims requires coordinated community effort, and that takes awareness. This proclamation was accepted by King County Deputy Andy Conner, founder of the Genesis Project. Conner said awareness helps with needed resources and prevention, and likened human trafficking to domestic violence. He said domestic violence was once an unknown problem, and through community awareness victims are able to find resources to help them out of their situation.

Public Safety Report

Police Chief Ralph Padilla updated council on crime in 2023. The data, while not entirely positive, was not as bad in some areas as trends predicted. Vehicle thefts were very high, but vehicular prowling was lower than expected. Also low was residential burglary. However, commercial burglary was very high. Padilla said that just about every day on the news there is another report of a vehicle being driven into a storefront so that items can be stolen from the business. This has become a common method for burglars. Robberies were high, but homicides were lower than 2021 or 2022 numbers.

When asked what residents should do when witnessing crimes, Chief Padilla said absolutely do not try to intervene in a property crime, but do call 911. They were able to catch a recent bank robber thanks to so many people calling in to report the whereabouts of the perpetrator. 

For domestic crime prevention, Padilla said to focus on the basics: lighting, visibility, security cameras. He also said to make friends with your nosy neighbors- because those are the ones who will call the cops when they see suspicious activity.

Increasing Funding For Law Enforcement #1 Legislative Priority

Mayor Dana Ralph said she and several councilmembers testified in Olympia recently on the city’s one and only legislative priority: increasing funding for police. She said that while the Kent PD is “fully staffed” now, that only means they have filled all the positions they are budgeted for. Unfortunately this leaves them short of the statewide average, which already has a lower per capita rate of police officers than any other state in the country. She is hoping possible new state legislation will allow the city to impose a .03% sales tax that would go towards hiring 30 more officers.

Public Comments

During public comments, it was recognized that the city does need more officers, but the speaker said that sales tax is regressive, disproportionately affecting the lowest income people. He said the city should just find the money in the current budget, possibly utilizing red light camera revenue. Another revenue source he suggested is leasing the Showare Center to a private operator, and using that revenue for police.

Sound Transit Rezone

Sound Transit owns a property on 30th Ave S. that was once a mobile home park. After Sound Transit purchased the property, residents were relocated, and the vacant land has been used since then as a construction staging area for light rail. Now they have asked that the property be rezoned for high capacity transit oriented housing, so that it can be developed for mixed-use residential. This zoning change passed unanimously.

Mellow DeTray

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in the region. For many years she published 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.

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