Three candidates have filed for the open Position 7 on the Kirkland City Council. The position will be the only council seat to appear on the Aug. 1 primary ballot, as it is the only race with more than two candidates.
Uzma Butte, Jon Pascal and Imran Peerbhai are running for the seat, which is currently held by Doreen Marchione. She has announced she will not be seeking re-election and endorsed Pascal for her seat.
In the time since she decided to run for council, Butte has said she has learned a lot about what the community wants through conversations with community members, local officials, business owners and others. She hopes to take their input and build connections to create a greater sense of community in Kirkland.
Butte and her husband first moved to Kirkland in 1992 and returned to the city in 2013 after 19 years of living in Bellevue. They have two adult children.
“I’ve enjoyed all the amenities we have here in Kirkland,” said Butte, who is running for office for the first time. “I realized I needed to participate more.”
She currently is a member of the Kirkland Downtown Rotary Club and is affiliated with ACLU People Power, Indivisible and East Shore Unitarian Universalists. She said she started seriously considering a run for office following the November presidential election.
“Women need to be more involved in politics,” Butte said.
She has her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Washington (UW), and she runs Spectrum Academy, a Montessori preschool for children ages 3-5, in Redmond.
Population growth is causing issues in a variety of areas around the region. Butte is especially concerned about the lack of affordable housing in Kirkland, which has the effect of people working lower-wage jobs being unable to live here, in turn causing those jobs to have a high turnover rate and/or lack of applicants.
“People who work here can’t afford to live here,” she said, specifically citing teachers, police officers, firefighters and nurses. “(Employers) have a hard time keeping those jobs filled.”
As such, she would like to see more thought put into the planning process when new developments come to Kirkland, with an emphasis on affordable housing and transit-oriented development.
Butte also sees property taxes having a detrimental effect on seniors and retirees who want to live in Kirkland but may be priced out of the city. If elected as a councilmember, Butte said she would work with the county to pursue solutions to this issue, such as putting property tax waivers in place.
Affordability is of concern to her for small business owners in Kirkland as well.
“Retail (lease rates) could squeeze out small businesses,” Butte said.
For more information about Butte, visit uzma forkirkland.com.
Pascal is currently on city council, in position two. He was appointed to the position at the beginning of this year, when Shelley Kloba vacated the seat to fulfill her duties as a newly elected First District representative.
He said he was planning to run for this open seat before Kloba’s seat became open, and he is sticking with his plan.
“Doreen has such a rich and long history in giving back to her community … I’ve learned a lot from her,” Pascal said. “I’m just pleased that she’s supporting me … it’s a great honor.”
Pascal’s current seat, Position 2, is also up for election in November and Tom Neir is the sole candidate.
In his first six months on council, Pascal feels he has had some major successes, including starting the process of developing an open space acquisition strategy for the city.
“We didn’t really have that plan before,” he said.
He said he has also encouraged city staff to be more proactive about pursuing state and federal grants for transportation projects.
Prior to being appointed to the council, Pascal served on the transportation commission and planning commission. He is a principal for Kirkland-based Transpo Group and has a bachelor’s degree in forestry and master’s degree in engineering from UW. He lives in Kirkland with his wife and two children.
Moving forward, Pascal said the pressures of growth and development in and around Kirkland need to be addressed. He said related issues include transportation, housing and other infrastructure such as fire stations.
“I want to continue to serve on council to lead the way to support infrastructure investments,” he said. “I want to be there to identify solutions and implement solutions.”
Supporting parks and the preservation of open space is also important to Pascal.
“We need to think about the future and what areas we can preserve for our future generations,” he said. “Kirkland is so blessed that we had leaders in the past who thought about this.”
He also values hearing from his constituents about the issues they want to see addressed.
“I want to listen to the people that don’t feel listened to,” Pascal said. “I really believe in giving back to the community. … It’s my opportunity to advance key issues that we’re hearing from the community.”
In addition to Marchione’s endorsement, Pascal’s campaign website lists endorsements from numerous local leaders and community members.
For more information about Pascal, visit jonpas cal.com.
For Peerbhai, who has never run for office before, one of the reasons he’s running for city council is because he views the current council as hostile to citizen input, out of touch and complacent.
“There’s a huge amount of unanimous decisions where alternatives aren’t even explored,” he said. “The council has lost its muscle in asking questions.”
He said the council has become out of touch by accident.
“I don’t think anyone’s malicious or purposely evil,” Peerbhai said, adding he would be a voice on the council that would implement more oversight in the city’s initiatives.
With a career and background in information technology, Peerbhai wants to see more innovation in initiatives the city and council pursue. He specifically mentioned an innovation in concrete that allows it to last 300 times longer than regular concrete as an example.
“I think if I won, I could actually make real changes,” he said.
Like his opponents, Peerbhai wants to be part of the process to resolve issues associated with population growth.
“We’ve had a series of growth problems,” he said, specifically citing the overcrowded park and ride lots. “Things are obviously not working. I find it’s hard to get parking to get on the bus.”
Like Butte, he mentioned the retention and hiring of police officers as a key issue the city is facing. He anticipates the need will only become greater as new developments in Totem Lake and downtown Kirkland are completed.
“We clearly have a problem in recruiting police officers,” he said, citing stronger partnerships with neighboring jurisdictions to police the Eastside and more aggressive recruitment strategies as examples of what he would push for if elected to the council.
Peerbhai lives in Kirkland with his wife, two kids and grandmother, and he works as the principal data specialist for ThinkPredict, a Kirkland-based artificial intelligence technology company that he founded.
“I feel that the city is a great place to live, and we can solve a lot of problems,” he said. “The way we explore our problems is so inefficient right now.”
Among the issues Peerbhai wants to address are increased transparency in government, justice reform, private property rights, modernization of the construction inspection process, the need for an aquatics center and campaign finance reform.
For more information about Peerbhai, visit im rankirkland7.city.