Council bids farewell to mayor, swears in new member

In a sentimental city council meeting Monday night, friends, family and even sometime-opponents of Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci wished her well as she transitions from city government to Metropolitan King County Council.

King County Superior Court Judge Brian Gain swears in (from left) Vandana Slatter

In a sentimental city council meeting Monday night, friends, family and even sometime-opponents of Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci wished her well as she transitions from city government to Metropolitan King County Council.

After serving 12 years and three city council terms, including stints as Deputy Mayor and Mayor, Balducci won election to King County Council last month over incumbent Jane Hague. City council members wished her well and recounted her time on the council.

“We’ve been lucky to have you at the local level,” said councilwoman Lynne Robinson. “And now we’ll be lucky to have you at the regional level.”

Deputy Mayor Kevin Wallace, who has butted heads with Balducci repeatedly on the council, was effusive in his praise.

“The phrase iron sharpens iron keeps coming to mind when I think about you and me,” he said. “I think looking back at the entire six years you’ve made me a better man and a more effective leader. And I think in the first couple years it was by learning how to fight a lot better.”

In her tenure on the council, Balducci said she worked with amazing people and leaders who accomplished a multitude of goals. Among those are the new city hall, an upgraded 911 call center, updates on land-use plans around the city, transportation updates and light rail. She said in her tenure she had seen more than 10,000 staff presentations.

In other council news:

• Incumbent councilmembers John Stokes, John Chelminiak, Jennifer Robertson and council newcomer Vandana Slatter were sworn in by King County Superior Court Judge Brian Gain. Slatter is replacing Claudia Balducci on the council. The council will choose the next mayor during its next meeting on Jan. 4.

• Council heard proposals for an initial affordable housing strategy, and many members expressed concern with the proposal not going far enough.

“I think you captured it very well in scope and approach,” councilmember Lynne Robinson said. “But I’m not sure it was as robust as it could have been.”

Robinson and councilmember John Stokes had worked together since first mention of the strategy in the comprehensive plan to make any plan for affordable housing stronger. Stokes called the initial strategy (which mainly involved contacting all stakeholders and looking for public engagement) “timid.”

A tweaked plan would be presented to council again in January. An ultimate plan to address Bellevue’s affordable housing issue would be presented to the council in November 2016, according to current plans.

• Council agreed to an interlocal agreement continuing to partner with Mercer Island and receiving shoreline Marine Patrol services in exchange for Bellevue Police Department special services like K-9, SWAT, forensics services and others. The two cities first entered the agreement four years ago. Cost is expected to be minimal for both entities.

• Council approved more than $1 million to KPFF Consulting Engineers to “develop initial design” on an inside high occupancy vehicle lane and outside sidewalk or shoulder from the “Y” intersection of southbound Bellevue Way Southeast to the Bellevue Park and Ride.

• Last week council approved funding to restore Bellevue Police Department’s bicycle patrol unit. The unit had been cut to save money during the recession in 2011. The funding will increase Bellevue police by five, with four bike patrol officers and one Corporal.


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