Rotary Club forum shows differences

The choices in this fall's city council campaign came into stark focus Friday morning when all five candidates for the three councilor seats appeared before the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club's weekly meeting.

The five candidates - incumbent councilor Bill Huizinga is running unopposed - gave their views on development and impact fees during the one-hour session that included audience questions.

Planning Commissioner Ted Miller, 63, is challenging incumbent councilor and former mayor Walt Schubert, 69, for his Position 2 seat.

"Walt Schubert has served his constituency brilliantly," Miller told the audience.

"Unfortunately, his constituency is real estate developers and speculators.

"Sequim experienced explosive growth between 2001 and 2007, but the money was not rolling into the city. So the people paid for the development.

"This election is a referendum on the future direction of Sequim."

Schubert responded by saying, "There's a lot of things that need to be done and a lot that need to be undone."

Schubert and Huizinga along with Planning Commissioner Mike East are running as a slate with the stated goal of bringing "common sense" back to the city council.

The trio has a four-part platform that includes no new taxes without a vote of the people and "reasonable" development impact fees.

"We almost had affordable housing but we had to start over when the four new councilors came in," Schubert said.

Schubert has held Position 2 on the seven-member council for 10 years. He served as mayor, a position chosen by the other councilors, from 2002-2007.

Schubert was unseated as mayor following the 2007 election when the four new councilors - Laura Dubois, Erik Erichsen, Ken Hays and Susan Lorenzen.

East, 66, is running for Paul Mc-Hugh's Position 3 seat against Don Hall, a former councilor who lost his re-election bid to Lorenzen in 2007.

He decided to get involved because there's a need to make changes and bring leadership to the council, East said, reiterating the four-point platform.

Hall said he considers himself a volunteer and not a candidate.

He said he spends his money donating to causes such as the Boys & Girls Club rather than running a campaign.

When seniors wanted to play softball, he worked to get grass installed for two playing fields and now is working on a third, Hall said.

"If you like the softball fields, the new signs, the gravel path to the James Center, those are things I've done, thank you," he said.

Huizinga, 68, is running unopposed for his Position 1 seat because he wants to finish work on affordable housing and some zoning changes such as the sub area plan.

He invited people to an Aug. 19 brainstorming session (time to be decided) at Carrie Blake Park on how to implement affordable housing.

Then the issue will go to the city council, he said.

The candidates had diverse views on what constitutes a "reasonable" impact fee for developers.

Hall said perhaps 5 percent of the development's value would be reasonable, "something like that."

They should study other cities' impact fees and set them accordingly, he said.

Miller said either developers should pay 100 percent of the cost of their developments' impacts or else the taxpayers are subsidizing it.

"And that's not fair."

East said water and sewer hook-up fees for a new house were $3,300 in 2006 and now they are $14,000, so that makes buying a house in Sequim difficult.

Schubert said, "You need to determine the cost of the development's impact not just throw numbers out."

The city's impact fees are $20,000 because the council decided to take the high end of the recommendations, he said.

Miller said reasonable impact fees means they are subsidized.

Port Angeles' fees are lower because they are subsidized but he wants Sequim residents to get every break, he said.

East said the developer pays for the infrastructure costs, sewer and water and power.

Now they are studying the impact of developments on arterial streets near them, he said.

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