Bellevue City Council candidates campaigning for position 3 are Jeremy Barksdale, a user-experience researcher, and Stephanie Walter, an East Bellevue Community councilmember and health care finance professional.
How will you support affordable housing for Bellevue residents?
Jeremy Barksdale: Affordable housing is key to ensuring that the people who serve our community can live where they work and that our aging population can age in place in the community where they’ve built their relationships. Bellevue has an affordable housing strategy that seeks to help people stay in affordable housing, create housing choices, create more affordable housing, unlock housing supply by making it easier to build and prioritize inter-governmental funding for affordable housing. I would continue to support our existing affordable housing strategy — continually evaluating and collaboratively looking for ways to help us achieve the desired outcomes.
Stephanie Walter: I have been honored with the affordable housing council’s endorsement. As a city councilmember, I would support affordable housing through the following: Prioritizing surplus, city-owned, non-park land for affordable housing consideration; easing the permitting process of sub-platting reducing the time and cost of building new housing; encouraging the development community to take full advantage of the Multi-Family Tax Exemption; supporting efforts of nonprofits to maintain residences for low-income homeowners; seeking government and private grants that encourage affordable housing.
Having safe and secure housing is a basic human need for all of us.
How will you support services for the unhoused in the city?
Barksdale: Everyone in our community deserves an opportunity to thrive. This includes people experiencing homelessness, substance use disorder and mental health issues. Providing a year-round shelter, along with mental health and substance use disorder treatment services, is key to helping people experiencing homeless move out of homelessness and thrive. I support the development of a permanent year-round shelter that provides housing and services for people experiencing homelessness in our community, as well as partnering with nonprofit organizations, businesses and other government agencies to holistically address the needs of people experiencing homelessness. In addition to helping people who are currently experiencing homelessness, I would support and advocate for programs and services that help prevent people from experiencing homelessness or help them quickly exit homelessness, such as rapid rehousing.
Walter: As a city councilmember, I would facilitate the missions of our outstanding local social service nonprofits by allocating funding to them based on the Human Service Commission’s recommendations. Social services in Bellevue are compassionate, effective and well respected. Providing robust and targeted social services in Bellevue assures we will not have tents on our sidewalks.
Anyone who calls Bellevue home wants a safe place to lay their head at night. As a community, we have a responsibility to assure the safety and well-being of every one of us. To do this, the unhoused need to be met where they are to have their needs and abilities assessed. Their needs would be matched to the appropriate set of services, facilities and caregivers with the goal of helping the person gain their highest level of self-reliance in order to thrive.
How do you intend to foster transportation availability and accessibility around the city?
Barksdale: Public transportation helps make Bellevue more affordable by reducing the cost of living and increasing economic mobility. Light rail further increases economic mobility because it makes it easier for people to access jobs throughout the region. Focusing density around public transportation and improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure makes transportation more accessible by helping to mitigate first- and last-mile challenges. I would partner with our regional transportation organizations and advocate for transit-oriented development and multi-modal transportation throughout our community to make it easier for people to access transportation and navigate our community and the region.
Walter: As a city councilmember, I would prioritize freely flowing transportation in the short and long term. I would ask our Transportation Department to challenge assumptions, look for innovative efficiencies, and raise the mobility level of service throughout the city. In the short term, this means syncing traffic lights, working with the state Department of Transportation to ease traffic between Eastside cities on Interstate 405, encouraging employers to allow flexible work schedules, and offering circulating vans throughout the city center and beyond. In the long term, this means championing Bellevue as a transportation innovator for both technology and roadway systems.
My goal as a city councilmember is for Bellevue residents to be able to go where they want, when they want and how they want.
How do you strike a balance between development and nurturing what already makes Bellevue unique?
Barksdale: Bellevue has several urban growth areas where density is planned. Further concentrating density in the urban growth areas, where light rail will support navigating the city and the region, helps with retaining the natural beauty that makes Bellevue a “city in a park,” while also helping achieve our vision of welcoming the world by making it affordable for our diverse population to live and thrive in Bellevue.
Walter: Striking a balance between development and nurturing what already makes this city unique depends on engaging the people of Bellevue. The people are this city’s best asset. We are what makes our city unique and such a desirable place to live. As new people come to Bellevue, our community fabric gets even better — more vibrant and more diverse. The development community helps meet the needs of new arrivals by providing places to live, places to work, things to do and places to go. Without development, there would be less housing affordability and fewer jobs.
I am non-partisan, pro-Bellevue and pro-neighborhoods. Serving all of Bellevue residents, businesses and visitors is my only goal in running for Bellevue City Council. What matters to you matters to me.