From left, candidates Ryan Burnett, Robyn Robyn Mulenga and Anthony Ase. COURTESY PHOTOS

From left, candidates Ryan Burnett, Robyn Robyn Mulenga and Anthony Ase. COURTESY PHOTOS

Q/A: Auburn City Council candidates sound off ahead of primary election

Top two vote-getters in pursuit of the No.5 seat will advance to general election

Washington state’s Aug. 6 primary is coming up fast.

At stake in Auburn is which two of three candidates for Position 5 on the ballot for Auburn City Council ballot gets to move on to the general election in November, and who won’t. To inform Auburn voters who the three are and where they stand on vital issues of the day, the Auburn Reporter addressed a number of questions to the candidates and received the following answers. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Anthony Ase

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running because our political landscape has been dominated by either career politicians who only work to stay in office or business owners who want to make sure that laws stay out of their way. I want to represent my city and speak for citizens’ best interests instead of my personal interests or my business interests.

Q: Have you held political office before?

A: I have not held political office before, but I have held many positions of leadership in a variety of roles: retail management; union bargaining representative; roller derby coach; and department leader in my current employment.

Q: What special skills and talents would you bring to the council?

A: I have an ability to break down complex ideas into manageable chunks. I have the ability to relate to citizens and understand their concerns and various perspectives. There’s no one better to work on a city budget than a math teacher. I won’t be playing around with economic theory, I’ll just balance the checkbook.”

Q: What are the top four to five problems confronting the city of Auburn, and how would you deal with them?

A: 1. Bringing in businesses that Auburn citizens need, want. I will review our B&O tax and compare the rates of neighbor cities like Federal Way, Renton and Kent. But in this regard, I also intend to balance the fact that Auburn doesn’t need to grow too big too fast;

2. Ensuring that our utilities are bargained at a fair rate. I have studied comparator rates for cities our size and looked into items to bring to the bargaining table. Simple ideas like having a lowered rate for low-income seniors like Marysville has;

3. Ensure that our school districts are properly supported by our city levies and property taxes. Auburn is served by multiple school districts, and we need to make sure that all of our students are receiving equitable services. Our kids deserve the support of our council in every way, and as a teacher I certainly have insight and perspective into what schools need from their cities; and

4. From my conversations with constituents, there is concern about our homeless population. I believe Auburn has started some decent ideas, and I would like to further analyze the data of their results and consider if changes need to happen. My main focus would be to get to the root cause of our homeless issue. I want to be clear: the homeless person is not the issue, the issue is whatever drove those people to become homeless.

Q: Are you an Auburn native? If not, where do you come from?

A: I am not an Auburn native. I was born in Dayton, Ohio, but I was raised in an army family so I’ve lived all across the United States. I went to high school in Kent though.

Q: Military service?

A: I do not have military service though I do have a military family from my Grandfather to my mother.

Q: Community service organizations?

A: I was a school volunteer for 10 years in Whatcom County as a tutor, a track coach and an organizer for various meetings and community outreach events. I currently volunteer coaching roller derby through a team based in Tacoma. I have also given my time in a variety of fundraisers for AIDS research, Bellingham Police Department, and even a fundraiser for a couple local breweries.

Ryan Burnett

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running for city council to work to strengthen the community we raise our children in. It’s important to think about how the decisions we are making today will affect the future generations. It’s our responsibility.

Q: Have you held political office before?

A: No.

Q: What special skills and talents would you bring to the council?

A: I believe that my ability to look at issues creatively from many angles, analyzing possible solutions and improvements is a strength that can benefit the council.

Q: What are the top four to five problems confronting the city of Auburn, and what are your plans for dealing with them?

A: 1. Auburn has a crime rate almost 1½ times the national average. With the power to influence the city budget, I will work toward additional support of crime prevention;

2. Homelessness is an issue that must be addressed, which goes hand in hand with the addiction issues of our city. I will work for additional support toward programs designed to come up with creative solutions to improve the mental health of our community members, to address the homelessness and addiction issues plaguing our community;

3. I will work at improving training and education to empower Auburn’s community members to join the skilled job force vacancies and strengthen our local economy;

4. And I will work at creating more opportunities within Auburn for small businesses to open and thrive, while keeping in mind that issues such as foot traffic and parking in the downtown areas are also ways to boost our local economy.

Q: Are you an Auburn native? If not, where do you come from?

A: A transplant from Anchorage, Alaska, I was raised as a toddler in the South Seattle neighborhood of Skyway, went to Renton High School, the Army and eventually moved to Auburn five years ago after taking a job locally three years prior.

Q: Military service?

A: One enlistment term in the U.S. Army, with one deployment to the Kuwait/Iraq border in 1996.

Q: Do you belong or have you belonged to any community service organizations?

A: Organizing, hosting a charity fundraiser that I have been dreaming of for four years. All proceeds will go to the Auburn Food Bank programs. The event is called Auburn Fight to Unite and the date is Sept. 12. More details to come. Inaugural member of the mayor’s new jobs task force. Also, volunteered at three of my children’s schools.

Robyn Mulenga

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running for city council with the goal of creating a welcoming environment where residents want to live, work and see their businesses flourish. I think it’s important to have a diverse, inclusive community where all people feel accepted.

Q: Have you held political office before?

A: I am currently serving as the Auburn School Board Director No. 2. For the past four years, I have listened to and addressed the concerns of our community, and I will continue to listen and drive change as a city council member.

Q: What special skills and talents would you bring to the council?

A: I know how to work well with others to get the job done. In my role as a school board member, I was influential in bringing a bond supported by voters for two new elementary schools and six replacement schools, which will make a difference in the lives of our children and educators. From my work of developing land contracts for the government, I have the experience needed to understand the inner-workings of ordinances and resolutions.

Q: What are the top four problems confronting the city of Auburn, and what are your plans for dealing with them?

A: 1. I would like to bring affordable housing solutions to Auburn;

2. I would like to provide rest areas for the homeless so they can have access to shower and laundry services in a clean, safe environment.

3. I would like to fix potholes and maintain our roads; and

4. Continue the active engagement between the school district and the city.

Q: Are you an Auburn native? If not, where do you come from?

A: I grew up in Kent and have lived in Auburn for the past 14 years.

Q: Military service?

A: I have a lot of respect for the armed services and come from a military household. My father served in the Army for 17 years.

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