By Sarah Brusig
The Kent City Council meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2022 was called to order at approximately 7:10 p.m. In attendance were Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, Kent City Council President Bill Boyce and Councilmembers Brenda Fincher, Satwinder Kaur, Marli Larimer, Zandria Michaud, and Toni Troutner. Councilmember Les Thomas was not in attendance.
The meeting opened with a change to the agenda stating that Thomas was ill and unable to make the commitment to attend. The Council voted unanimously on Thomas’ excused absence.
The jam-packed agenda kicked off without Public Recognition by Council. Mayor Ralph explained that an eight-week civics academy session by the City of Kent is now open for registration. Interested parties may register for Kent 101 with free in-person classes beginning in April 2022.
Upcoming notable community events in the Kent area are games by the Seattle Thunderbirds, a Labor Council career fair, the Awaken Music Festival, The X League football team will debut on June 25, 2022, and other offerings at the ShoWare Center. Spotlight tickets are also available at kentwa.gov.
Public Safety Report
Chief Padilla took time at the beginning of the Public Safety Report to provide his condolences to the families of two Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies who were shot in action. One deputy is recovering and the other is listed as “gravely ill, which is never something easy to hear,” Chief Padilla offered. “Sadly, it’s just a sobering reminder of some of the dangers that our people face. Thoughts and prayers and our hearts go out to them,” Chief Padilla added.
Calling it “a hard transition,” Chief Padilla welcomed new Kent Police Department officers next. Officers Kumar, Hamilton and Arjona stood before Council for introductions before raising their right hands to be sworn in by Mayor Ralph. “It is officially official, congratulations gentleman; welcome to the family,” Mayor Ralph said through erupting applause.
Chief Padilla shared his next update on a “life-saving medal” he “bestowed upon Officer Burns.” It is the fourth time Burns has received the honor. “He seems to always be the guy who’s in the right place at the right time,” Chief Padilla said.
There was a stabbing at Kent Station on March 12 just after 1pm involving one male victim and one male suspect. The weapon was located – a machete. On March 14 the male suspect was arrested and is in custody. “This is an unusual occurrence for Kent Station,” Chief Padilla offered. “We should still keep going there.”
Chief Padilla discussed the neighborhood response team cleaning up graffiti – down from five officers to just two. The dedicated officers chipped in to clean the graffiti in an effort to prevent crime in the local area.
Kent Police is hiring and anyone interested can find out more by visiting kentpolicerecruiting.com. Currently, 148 out of 165 allotted positions have been filled with 17 new recruits joining the force since November 2021.
Lastly, Hops & Cops will occur on March 24, 2022 from 6-8pm at Kent’s Airways Taproom (8611 S 212th St.). Craft brews are on each individual as they spend “untraditional” time with local law enforcement.
Mayor Ralph’s Report
Mayor Ralph kept her report brief due to the “long agenda” during the evening. The public comment portion of the Transportation Policy Board has been completed with approximately 500 comments. “We are in the process of developing the Regional Transportation Plan,” she said. March 31, 2022 is the next meeting with recommendation for adoption slated for April 14, 2022. She also thanked legislators for their work and the attendees of the State of the City Address.
Chief Administrative Officer’s Report
Chief Administrative Officer Derek Matheson stated an Executive Session of about 10 minutes would be required to discuss litigation. Later in the evening, it was announced by Mayor Ralph that it would be Matheson’s last meeting with current Council as he has accepted a position at the City of Fife.
“I’m going to try to get through this without crying,” Mayor Ralph said, adding “this is so hard.” She recalled Matheson’s major contributions to Council – as well as the City of Kent. Councilmembers took turns as they joined in commenting on Matheson’s impending departure. He was then presented flowers and an award for his efforts.
Councilmember Boyce discussed making “it easier” to help people whose cars are about to be towed by attempting to contact them beforehand. Boyce is working with the BIPOC community on a “solid” communication plan involving “equity and inclusion.”
Councilmember Michaud spoke next about the Parks and Human Services Committee, stating that the 2022-2026 art plan has been approved. This will include eight or nine additional traffic signal control boxes “which I know everyone loves,” she said. The 2022 Summer Experience Enrichment for Kids program was also funded.
Councilmember Kaur updated Council on urban growth areas and policies related to strategic planning. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency consists of 80% of the cost being personnel and they are currently seeking grants to help fund their initiatives.
Councilmember Larimer provided an update on the DSHS meeting on the subject of elder abuse, specifically elder financial abuse.
Councilmember Troutner offered a brief report on Avenue 55 and said additional background would be discussed later in the Council meeting. A grant was approved for the visitkent.com tourism site, including an expansion of geolocation efforts to help draw interest to the area.
Councilmember Fincher offered a report on Public Works. Residents and businesses should look at their next statement from Republic as there will be a credit for the missed day between March 12-13, 2022 that occurred during the work stoppage.
There were two items for Public Hearing at the March 15, 2022 Kent City Council meeting. The first being “Public Hearing on the Potential Surplus and Reallocation of Land from Public Works Streets to the City’s Drainage Utility in Order to Build the Washington Avenue South Stormwater Pump Station Project.” The motion was made and adopted by Council unanimously.
The second item for Public Hearing was “Public Hearing to Consider Removal of the Restrictive Covenant from City-Owned Property used in the Downey Farmstead Side Channel Salmon Habitat Restoration Project.” The motion was made and adopted by Council unanimously.
Linda Macintosh and Cynthia Boyd were joined by Harry Williams, Allison Johnson and Brenda Farwell to speak to Council about a program called Kent Music for Life, a 501(c)(3) organization. The mission of the nonprofit is to find musical instruments, fix them up and provide them to Kent area schools for students. There will be a Kent Music for Life fundraiser in July 2022.
The Consent Calendar was approved and Council moved onto Other Business, which covered the “Negotiation of a Development Agreement and Purchase and Sale Agreement with Avenue 55 for the Sale of the Property Referred to as the Naden Assembly – Authorize.” The item was approved unanimously.
Awards were given to the following bids: “City of Kent Courthouse & Corrections Facility Generator Replacement Bid – Award,” “East Tacoma Street – Kensington Avenue Drainage Improvements Project Bid – Award,” and “2022 Asphalt Grinding Bid – Award.”
The Kent City Council meeting went into Executive Session and Action After Executive Session regarding Current or Potential Litigation, as per RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) and then the March 15, 2022 Kent City Council meeting was adjourned.
Sarah Brusig has been in media and publishing for over 15 years and previously served as the president of the Society of Professional Journalists – Western Washington chapter. Sarah is the recipient of the McCormick Foundation New Media Women grant and was presented with the Community Builder Award by Rep. Pramila Jayapal. She resides in South King County where she regularly advocates for human rights, animal rights and education. Keep up with Sarah on Twitter and Facebook or to reach out with story ideas/suggestions.