Candidate Question: Transparency

in Candidate Corner/Candidate Questions/Featured/Government and Politics

The Liberty Lake Gazette asked all 10 candidates the following question at the same time via email. The candidate responses are in the order they replied. Click on a candidate name to view their full profile.

What aspect of the City of Liberty Lake could benefit most from enhanced transparency? What specific actions would you take to improve transparency?

Phil Folyer campaign photo
Phil Folyer

I believe our leaders should be honest, trustworthy, open minded, have integrity, able to make accurate statements and be accountable. Transparency greatly improves with these characteristics. The city currently does a great job providing information thru the website. The website makes it fast and easy for citizens to pull up government policies, forms, documents, meeting minutes and agenda’s just to name a few. Smart use of technology is very beneficial for local government. The city provides live feed video of council meetings thru Facebook which I’ve used when unable to attend a meeting. While I commend the city’s efforts to use social media as a form of transparency, I’d like to make one suggestion. Audio has been an issue during council meetings for those attending a meeting in person. Audio is also difficult to hear thru the Facebook live feed events. I’m confident that a remedy has been discussed. I’m also confident that the remedy relates to cost. As a council member, I would welcome discussion as to how best address this concern.

Transparency, accountability & responsiveness are the key factors to public trust in our elected officials. Public trust is vital to the success of our city. Public trust is earned, not given. Please give me a chance to earn your trust, please vote Phil Folyer for position 1.

What aspect of the City of Liberty Lake could benefit most from enhanced transparency? What specific actions would you take to improve transparency?

Bob Moore campaign photo
Bob Moore

Transparency is extremely important in Liberty Lake government and I have long been an advocate of discussing issues in public open meetings and not in a “back office” at City Hall while serving on the Planning Commission and City Council.

The one aspect that would benefit most by enhanced transparency would be Capital Facilities planning in which many projects are not fully disclosed initially, and project additions are explained as “changes in scope”.

Five years ago, I suggested in a Community Develop Committee meeting that the City make arrangements to televise our City Council meetings in the interest of transparency and community involvement. We now broadcast the City Council meetings on Facebook and I will continue to support this and other methods of improving communications and transparency in government including this public forum!

What aspect of the City of Liberty Lake could benefit most from enhanced transparency? What specific actions would you take to improve transparency?

Mayor Steve Peterson
Steve Peterson
Recording and transmitting Council Meetings. Currently we have recorded voice and have done minutes that pick up the text and flavor of those meetings. We have tried with limited success to put them on live via I-pad etc. We have researched what Spokane Valley, Airway Heights and Spokane do for their meetings and have come to the conclusion that we must invest in a comprehensive recording system.

This years 2020 Mayors budget will reflect that investment as a community priority. By driving traffic to the City web page, Facebook page and live recordings of our meetings will ensure the community has access to unfiltered and totally transparent information.

What aspect of the City of Liberty Lake could benefit most from enhanced transparency? What specific actions would you take to improve transparency?

Annie Kurtz campaign photo
Annie Kurtz

The residents of Liberty Lake could benefit the most from enhanced transparency. Over the past year or so, I have noticed a marked improvement in the information that the City is putting forth to inform residents about what is happening in the community. I would like to see this information sharing continue and expand and I would take the following specific actions to improve transparency:

Expand Current Efforts

1. Support Anita Eylar in her amazing efforts to get information to the City through social media.
2. Support and finalize technology needed for consistent and effective live streaming of all City Council and Commission meetings.
3. Recommend update and evaluation of current City website for user experience, functionality, and improvements in order to make the website a dynamic source of information.
4. Recommend investment in technology for push notifications so residents can opt in for targeted updates and reminders about traffic issues, road closures, school closures, City Council and Commission meetings, live stream starts, neighborhood and community events, content and availability of agendas, minutes, and documents, etc.

Community Outreach

  1. Recommend a needs assessment for our community for how to actively engage citizens. Areas of interest and ideas I would propose are:
    1. Encourage and support the addition neighborhood representatives to come to city council meetings.
    2.  Ask residents how they want to know about things occurring in the city. How can we effectively balance messaging through social media, print media, and alternative forms of communication depending on interest?
    3. Consider whether we can live stream council meetings from different neighborhoods in order to get more engagement.
    4. Consider whether established office hours or availability of City Council members would be of benefit to residents.

My Individual Efforts for Community Outreach

  1. Meet individually with residents about individual and specific concerns.
  2. Meet at least once a year with homeowners of each of the different neighborhoods within the city to hear their collective concerns and bring them forward to the City and Council.
  3. Make myself available at different times and days for resident issues and concerns.
  4. Support local events through volunteering and/or attending.

Accountability

  1. Roll call and votes by members on issues published in various media forms so residents know how City Council voted on issues.
  2. Minutes from each City Council and Commission meeting posted the next day on the website and also shared on social media.

What aspect of the City of Liberty Lake could benefit most from enhanced transparency? What specific actions would you take to improve transparency?

Cris Kaminskas campaign photo
Cris Kaminskas
There are many ways in which they City could be more transparent. One is through better engagement with citizens by sharing how the City is performing against our Strategic Plan that was developed earlier this year and by reporting on the operations of every department. This will allow citizens to understand which areas of the city are excelling and which are falling short of expectations. These reports need to be both quantitative and qualitative, and they need to be easily found online, shared through social media & through our Notify Me software. In addition, more targeted meetings on proposed projects need to be held in advance with potentially affected neighbors instead of waiting for complaints to come in after the fact.

More importantly, though, transparency from the Mayor’s office to the Council needs the most improvement. When a Mayor (no matter who holds the position) attends meetings with other organizations, municipalities, state legislature, and even trainings, it is extremely important for that person to report back to the council and to the citizens what was discussed. If our Mayor is on the Association of Washington Cities Legislative Priorities Committee or if he is making trips to Olympia to negotiate on large projects, we should know when he is going, who he is meeting with, what the agenda is, and receive a report on the outcome. My goal is to have the Mayor’s and Council’s meeting schedules published with this information and to require reports to the council at the meeting immediately following these meetings. The council and, more importantly, our citizens deserve that information.

What aspect of the City of Liberty Lake could benefit most from enhanced transparency? What specific actions would you take to improve transparency?

Shane Brickner
Enhancing transparency would be beneficial to all aspects of our city. It’s important for people to be able to see and understand how we function as a city. As mayor and city council members, we are there to represent our community, not our own interests. As I keep saying: it’s about we, not me. My hope is that the more transparent and accessible we can make information, the more engaged our community members can be in the process. Well informed community members are more likely to get involved, which means more voices will be represented at the table, so that we can work together to shape our city. Open lines of communication have always been important to me, which is why I make it a priority to be accessible and available to speak with residents, and to hear their concerns. I understand that some people may not have the time or inclination to be directly involved with the city council, but their concerns and priorities still deserve to be represented. It’s important for us as a city to do what we can to bring information to the people, to meet them where they are. I have supported getting our city council meetings streamed online so that people who are interested in the meetings but unable to attend in person are still able to stay informed. This year we hired Anita Eylar as Activities and Events Associate for the City of Liberty Lake, and I think she’s been doing an amazing job of putting more city information out on social media via the city’s Facebook page. I would like to see us continue to increase our efforts to put out information about the projects we’re working on, like street improvements, public safety efforts, and general development, to help increase the public’s awareness of what work is being done. I invite other suggestions on how we can increase our transparency, because it’s important to me that our community members feel included and connected.

What aspect of the City of Liberty Lake could benefit most from enhanced transparency? What specific actions would you take to improve transparency?

Holly Woodruff campaign photo
Holly Woodruff
I’m a budget nerd and I love reading through the city’s budget, but municipal budgets can be complicated and not easy to understand. Liberty Lake provides an introduction to the annual budget that emphasizes important aspects of the budget, but reading through it may be a challenge for residents who are hard-pressed for time. How the city has decided aspects of the budget can be helpful with improving transparency. The other aspect I would like to have is more detail about “behind the scenes” activities, and how council members come to decisions about voting yes or no on ordinances and budget requests. Sometimes one can glean how council members came to their decisions during council meeting discussions, but those discussions may be between just 2 or 3 members. Council members are usually easy to talk to if you ask them how they came to decisions, but a brief explanation from each member about how he or she reached a decision on a vote could increase transparency. Explaining how I came to a decision would be a specific action I would take to improve transparency.

I appreciate that the city now livestreams meetings on Facebook and records them for later viewing. This is a huge boost to transparency. However, not everyone has the time to watch a 2-3 hour City Council meeting online. I’d like to see a summary of the meetings posted on the city Web site and Facebook page, and also available to citizens who have signed up for meeting and event alerts via email. A brief PDF attachment to an email letting citizens know what facts were shared at the meeting and what decisions were made helps residents who may be pressed for time keep up with their local government. The city Facebook page is a great way for citizens to ask questions and give feedback, but not everyone is on Facebook (most of my siblings are not). Perhaps the Library could house a small space for citizen comments and feedback, like the old suggestion boxes. The Library is located centrally in the city and has a lot of foot traffic. Perhaps summaries of meeting decisions could also be posted at the Library. Technology is wonderful and makes it easier for local government to inform citizens, but technology doesn’t reach everyone. I’d like to know from the citizens what they would like in the way of communication from city government. Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue. I’m happy to answer other questions or meet with you in person. Just email me at WoodruffForCouncil@gmail.com or call me at 765-977-3611.

What aspect of the City of Liberty Lake could benefit most from enhanced transparency? What specific actions would you take to improve transparency?

Dg Garcia campaign photo
DG Garcia
The constituents would no doubt benefit most from increased transparency. Why? Because they are the stakeholders. The constituents are the primary contributing factors by way of taxes (property, sales, utility, etc.), increasing the sustainability of our community as a whole. They are affected both directly and indirectly by any positive or negative development, spending, or policy decision our government makes. 
 
Who are the constituents I am referring to, and why are they so important that I am confident they would benefit most from enhanced transparency? 
 
We are the constituents, all of us, and whether a community status changes from resident to mayor or city council member, transparency is relevant to everyone, individually and collectively. Transparency is not a privilege; it is a right. The lack of it jeopardizes what is approved or denied and undermines success no matter the subject. 
 
An empty council chamber almost assures the outcome. A government who does not mind or has little concern regarding the attendance at city hall demonstrates their comfort level of the constituency’s need to know. 
 
 
I am confident that open and improved levels of transparency lead to a better understanding, where policy-makers do not restrict or limit information, allowing for a more educated and informed constituency becomes vital to the goal. It is not just the need to know but the requirement and duty of all public officials, including the professional staff, or support personnel to outreach to the community. Insisting that the constituents know and understand what is happening in Liberty Lake in real-time is a true reflection of enhanced transparency—an informed community gets involved and stays engaged. 
 
Transparency is inherently between a city and its constituents. Enhancing transparency in our city is the means where the result will be a strong public and governmental relationship, and the end becomes the norm and not the exception. 
 
What specific actions would you take to improve transparency? 
 
If elected, I would ensure the people’s right and need to know will always outweigh what we think they should hear/understand. As a practice, I would provide detailed data and statistics that reflect the decision-making process utilized for every project. I would consistently give a breakdown for each taxpayer, indicating the percentage of their tax dollars used in the general fund.    

I would keep the citizens in the loop by disseminating the governments’ discussion points when approving or opposing a project. 

Lastly, I would request that the city use as many sources as possible (newsletters, emails, the city website, and official government text–not currently available) to provide critical information in addition to the monthly SPLASH news outlet, whenever possible.  


No response: Dan Dunne, Tom Stanley

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