Bryan Rivera, a community activist, left, Mayor Nancy Backus, middle, and Deputy Mayor Largo Wales will compete for the primary vote. The election is Tuesday, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the Nov. 7 general election. COURTESY PHOTOS

Three mayoral candidates sound off as primary election looms | Campaign ’17

Rivera, Backus, Wales vie for votes

The primary election is Tuesday, and Auburn has three candidates for its registered voters to select from: Mayor Nancy Backus; Deputy Mayor Largo Wales; and Bryan Rivera, a community activist.

The Auburn Reporter recently submitted a questionnaire to each candidate, and below readers will find the candidates’ responses. The candidates are presented in the order their names appear on the ballot.

For the all-mail primary, all ballots must be dropped in the ballot box or postmarked by 8 p.m., Aug. 1.

Bryan Rivera

Describe how your background and array of abilities make you a good fit to be Auburn’s mayor.

Ninety percent of the world’s data has been produced in the last two years. This is a testament to the fact that technology is playing a bigger role in our lives every day. I believe that in today’s time, it is essential for a candidate aspiring to fill an executive position, like mayor, to have a solid understanding of the technologies and trends that are changing our world as we know it.

In addition to having this insight, I have also developed the skill of computer programming. My background in mobile app development allows me to create, test and deploy potential solutions not only quicker, but cheaper. I enjoy putting my knowledge to the test and have won many awards as a result, including a global prize by IBM.

When I’m not coding, I’m learning. Currently, I’m tackling German, to add to my fluency in English and Spanish. That should come in handy, considering that 17.8 percent of Auburn’s residents speak another language at home. Other areas of study include quantum electrodynamics, sound engineering and archaeology, to name a few. My greatest ability, however, is my unmatched determination to always be a better me every day.

What are the top issues facing the city of Auburn, and how would you address them?

When you ask most residents what issues Auburn is facing, the common responses you receive are homelessness, substance abuse and affordable housing, just to name a few. These are issues that are affecting the entire nation. Each city has its own unique set of root causes that contribute to the national trend. I would address them by first breaking them down into smaller problems. A great place to start could be, for example, according to City-Data, Auburn ranks third on the list of the “top 101 cities with the largest racial income disparity between any two races with at least 200 householders.”

City-Data also ranks us 23rd in cities with the fewest people having professional degrees. There is more data like this that can allow us to handle these issues with a higher accuracy, which will lead to higher efficiency. To be an effective mayor, you need ability and technical skills to make sense of that data. I will work closely with the IT department to rapidly roll out cost-effective tools to aid us in better understanding our city, and in the process, each other.

Nancy Backus

Tell us about yourself.

I moved to Auburn as a 6-year-old –Auburn is my hometown. My husband and I have raised our daughter here, and she, like me, is a proud product of the Auburn School District, and she is currently the captain of the Green River College women’s soccer team. Prior to taking office, I served 10 years as your City Council member, with two of those years as deputy mayor. I also spent 25 years as a financial manager for The Boeing Co.

I take great pride in being Auburn’s first female mayor in our 127-year history. Staying active in and giving back to my community have always been important to me. I’ve volunteered for years to better the lives of women and children, currently serve on the King County Children and Youth Advisory Board, and have been heavily involved in scholarship programs and other organizations that help young women succeed professionally.

I am proudly endorsed by: Valley Professional Firefighters; MLKC Labor Council; Master Builders Association; IAM 751, Teamsters 117; Seattle/KC Realtors; Washington Conservation Voters; 47th LD Democrats; UA Plumbers & Pipefitters 32; PNW Regional Council of Carpenters; your local police officers; community leaders and Auburn business owners, large and small.

Describe how your background and array of abilities make you a good fit to be Auburn’s mayor.

As your mayor, I have focused my time being a champion for living-wage job creation in both the public and private sectors. I am an experienced, thoughtful, steady-handed, compassionate yet strong leader and unwavering advocate for Auburn – never taking for granted what an honor it is to serve the residents of our great city.

Auburn isn’t perfect, but we are certainly far from dead or dying. I am a realist as well as an optimist. We have work to do, but much to be proud of in Auburn. I am the person you can trust to get the job done.

I am responsive and action-oriented and my record bears that out. Since taking office, more than 300 new business licenses have been submitted at the City of Auburn. In addition, there are multi-million dollar expansions in the works of two of our largest employers: Boeing and MultiCare. The Outlet Collection continues to expand by adding Washington’s first Dave & Busters, and three multimillion dollar hotel projects – Holiday Inn Express, Wyndham and Tru by Hilton are in pre-review. Auburn is growing and creating new jobs, and I am proud to have pushed for that vision.

What are the top issues facing the city of Auburn, and how would you address them?

It’s not what would I do, it’s what I’ve already done and will continue to do when re-elected. Top issues facing Auburn are public safety, homelessness and transportation.

Since taking office as your mayor in 2014, I have focused on public safety. We have hired 14 additional police officers and expanded our bicycle patrols and our Community Response Team, all in three years.

To address homelessness, I worked with Auburn stakeholders to define and implement solutions for Auburn, and I continue working regionally to ensure we’re not duplicating actions, and we stay focused on reducing barriers for long-term shelter.

One of the main issues affecting Auburn residents and the entire Puget Sound region is traffic. As mayor, I am focused on methods to reduce congestion and help people move around more easily. We’ve secured more than $3 million in grant funds to complete important road projects like both Auburn Way North and South. We’ve prioritized the complete rebuild of B Street Northwest – to be done at a cost savings of over $1million, by using a new but proven rebuild method.

Auburn has in me a strong, decisive and competent leader with the relationships that ensure your voice is heard.

Largo Wales

Tell us about yourself.

Over the last 40 years, I have lived, worked and raised my family in Auburn. I provided leadership and business management at the highest levels of our school district while working with service groups and nonprofits. I have supported my leadership and management development with a doctoral degree and post-doctoral work and have been acknowledged by the Auburn Rotary as an Outstanding Leader, the Auburn Reporter as Citizen of the Year and, as well, selected as a United States Fulbright Scholar.

In retirement, I have continued my life of service. I have worked with the Auburn Food Bank, Auburn Community and Schools, served as the Head Start director, and chaired the United Way Auburn. I have served 5½ years as an Auburn City Council member and a member of both the Pierce County and Seattle Boards of Health.

Describe how your background and array of abilities make you a good fit to be Auburn’s mayor.

As Auburn’s current deputy mayor, endorsed by five of your seven council members, and at their urging, I have decided to run for mayor. I want to put my leadership experiences and collaborative style to work for Auburn.

What are the top issues facing the city of Auburn, and how would you address them?

I have walked Auburn’s neighborhoods since April and have heard your concerns. You’ve said your neighborhoods, parks and the public library are not safe. I will work with the council, police department and school district, and, with your ongoing input, make Auburn safe.

I have heard you talk about taxes and my opponent’s vote on ST3 that raised your property taxes, license tabs fees, sales taxes and gas taxes. I question her decisions to support ST3 with no direct benefit coming to Auburn, adding a $20 car tab fee and making a $400,000 contribution for a Tacoma Hospital. As your mayor, it will be my responsibility to make sure you are advocated for, not just taxed.

Auburn struggles with homelessness, mental health and crime. My pledge to you is to help those in need, not those who want a free ride.

Auburn’s economic growth has stalled, and all you see is what was approved a decade ago. We need a new vision to move Auburn forwar, and with the majority of the council members in support, we can get the job done. I am asking for your vote for mayor of Auburn.

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