Two challengers. One spot.
The contest for Position 5 on the Auburn City Council, pits Ryan Burnett, a seasoned restaurant manager, against Robyn Mulenga, a member of the Auburn School Board.
Burnett and Mulenga, responding to an Auburn Reporter questionnaire, shared some of their views as decision day looms.
The general election is Nov. 5. King County Elections mailed ballots Oct. 16.
Ryan Burnett, room chef at the Muckleshoot Casino, describes himself as “a determined and persistent individual,” “a work horse,” a problem solver and a team builder in the restaurant industry. A guy who wants to make Auburn an attractive locale, not only in which to live and raise a family but also a welcoming place to start and own a business.
The array of skills he has developed as a restaurant manager in the close to 15 of the 20 years he has worked in the industry, and during which he has led as many as 75 team members to success, Burnett said, he would use on the council to tackle crime, homelessness and to right the city’s upside-down budget.
“I have worked closely with experts in human behavior and leadership techniques and learned how to build strong relationships as well as how to set aside personal agendas to work toward common goals. I receive personal coaching to strengthen my abilities to make wise decisions while being responsible for tens of millions of dollars in my current position,” Burnett said.
Given that Auburn’s crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, Burnett said, he would make it a priority to address this problem and work to make the city a safe place for parents to raise their children. It is important, he said, to look at examples of success in regards to tackling these important issues and scout ways to do it even better.
“If we can make our city more attractive to businesses and therefore increase the city’s revenue, we may not need to increase taxes or implement new ones. If we ever were to increase taxes, I think it needs to go to a public vote and be across the board, not just aimed at certain entities such as local businesses,” Burnett said.
“I work in the city, my children go to school in the city, and obviously I live in the city; every decision the council makes has an affect on my family’s lives, and I would like the opportunity to make our city a better place,” Burnett said.
For more information, check out Burnett’s Facebook page.
Robyn Mulenga’s vision for her seat on the Auburn City Council is to act as a conduit for issues that are important to her constituents.
And she is ready, she says, to harness the invaluable experience she has picked up as a present member of the Auburn School Board to create a welcoming environment in which residents want to live, work and see their businesses flourish.
“I am here to listen, and have heard that you want to live in a clean city,” Mulenga said. “You want additional options to shop and dine in. You want the downtown area revitalized. You want a safe affordable city. And you want an end to homelessness, and mental health treatment services available to those that need it. I want to address these issues and more.”
As a member of the school board, Mulenga said, she has listened to the community and moved initiatives forward, demonstrating her ability to work well with others and her know-how in getting things done for the people she serves. She said she was influential in bringing forward a bond supported by voters for two new elementary schools and six replacement schoolsm and is still jazzed about the difference the new schools will make in the lives of Auburn’s children and its educators.
She was instrumental, she continued, in developing the strategic direction for the district through the newly-adopted, five-year strategic plan. One of the most important goals of the plan she and her colleagues focused on, she said, is that all students graduate.
In addition to her work on the school board, Mulenga is a member of the Cities and Schools Forum, where, she said, she helps to drive diversity for a more inclusive community.
“I believe it’s essential to create an environment where all people feel accepted,” Mulenga said. “For the past three years, I have worked in partnership with my fellow school board directors to introduce racial equity policy in the district. The Auburn School Board is proud of this accomplishment and recently won the Washington School Board State of Distinction award for their efforts. I have also had an influence with the city council, and they are also working on introducing a racial equity policy for the city.
Among her endorsements, Mulenga numbers Deputy Mayor Bill Peloza, city council members John Holman, Robert Baggett and Claude DaCorsi, school board president Ryan Van Quill and former school board director Anne Baunach.
For more information, visit Mulenga’s Facebook page.