New Kirkland City Councilmember Jon Pascal (right) takes his oath of office from Kirkland Municipal Court Judge Michael Lambo. KATHY CUMMINGS/Contributed photo

New city councilmember brings extensive transportation experience

As Kirkland, the Eastside and the Puget Sound region continue to grow, transportation will remain one of the major issues. Kirkland’s newest city councilmember, Jon Pascal, is bringing his experience as a transportation engineer, a former transportation commissioner and a former planning commissioner to ease some of those growing pains.

“It has always been and will continue to be a big issue,” Pascal said, specifically citing the planned Sound Transit 3 improvements in Kirkland and transportation related to the development of Totem Lake and Kirkland Urban.

He has worked for Kirkland-based Transpo Group for 15 years, and he is now a part-owner. As part of his job, he works with public agencies, helping them with transportation projects. His work includes corridor studies and designing transit improvements.

Pascal was born and raised in Bellevue and received his bachelor’s degree in forestry and master’s degree in engineering (with emphasis in transportation and public planning) from the University of Washington.

“I’ve always loved living in the Pacific Northwest,” he said.

He moved to Finn Hill with his wife 15 years ago, and they relocated to Juanita with their two kids six months ago. His first office in local government was as a Kirkland transportation commissioner, a title he held from November 2001 through March 2010.

“(In 2001) I was looking at ways I could get involved … in any capacity of volunteering,” he said, adding that’s when he saw the transportation commission opening. “It was a great way to use my skill set.”

Following his stint as a transportation commissioner, he served on the Kirkland Planning Commission from April 2010 through March 2016. He also served on the board of directors of the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance from November 2011 until he relocated.

Pascal said getting involved with the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance broadened his horizons in terms of determining all of the ways for the city to invest its money and resources.

“I cultivated an appreciation for the need to invest in open space and an appreciation for the city’s parks,” he said.

In addition to transportation, Pascal cited the preservation of open space and funding for public safety projects, such as a new fire station, as issues of importance to him both as a councilmember and a resident of Kirkland.

“I’m going to be thoughtful about how to (fund these projects) in an economical way,” he said, adding the pending shortfall from the loss of the Annexation Sales Tax Credit in 2021 would be important to address in preparing to fund transportation, open space and public safety projects.

“We’re always going to be having to find ways to be more efficient,” Pascal said, adding that the one-percent property tax cap also has a limiting effect on the city’s budget.

Pascal does plan to run for election to his position in November. (He was appointed to the seat by his fellow councilmembers in December 2016.)

“People are concerned I’m going to be a rubber stamper (because I was appointed) — that’s definitely not the case,” he said. “I need to take the time to earn the votes of the people.”