Tanika Padhye is running against Eugene Zakhareyev for the position 4 seat on the Redmond City Council, and it is the only two-way race on November’s ballot and will not appear on the Aug. 1 primary ballot.
Padhye was appointed to the position earlier this year after Kimberly Allen resigned due to scheduling conflicts.
Padhye, a former civil rights attorney and mother, said she’s running her campaign a little differently than most, with a slogan of “Run like a Mother” where she seeks to directly engage the community on issues they’re concerned about in informal settings.
Many of the issues the city faces, Padhye said, stem from the economic boom Redmond and Puget Sound are experiencing.
“With growth comes great challenges and great opportunities,” she said.
Key concerns for Padhye include a lack of affordable housing, increasing traffic congestion, aging community centers and cultural inclusion.
Padhye said she is the first Indian-American to hold a seat on the city council, and said she hopes to continue to work with residents from a diverse pool of ethnic and religious backgrounds and encourage greater involvement in city government.
Improving voter turnout is also important to her, as only one-third of registered voters returned their ballots in the last local election, she said.
With housing and rental prices skyrocketing, addressing housing affordability will continue to be a priority, Padhye said.
While creating incentives for developers is part of the council’s toolbox, Padhye said it should re-examine the percentage of affordable units developers are required to include in new projects.
The current level is 10 percent of all new units that must be affordably priced, but affordable is defined as 80 percent of the median income, which is still far higher than many people and families can afford, Padhye said.
The council should look at the possibility of lowering the percentage of the median income to qualify as affordable housing as well as increasing the amount of affordable units developers are required to build in new construction, she said.
“So that we are really meeting the demand for affordability, and that it’s truly affordable,” Padhye said.
Housing affordability is interwoven with transportation issues since workers who cannot afford to live in Redmond are forced to commute into the city, and workers who drive from communities farther east pass through the city on their way to Interstate 405.
Solving this will require a mix of solutions, including carpooling, buses, bike lanes and public transit, Padhye said.
“We have to think multi-modal, we have to think beyond just being in our cars, we have to give people other solid options,” she said.
Increasing bus service is one way to do that and working with King County Metro and Sound Transit to implement other options and greater services.
The city council also recently met with the City of Sammamish to discuss the possibility of working together to solve traffic problems.
“Both our cities would benefit from making sure that traffic keeps moving,” Padhye said.
Finally, Padhye said she is looking at ways to improve or create new community centers by partnering with public and private entities.
Pooling resources with neighboring cities could help spread out cost and create regional community hot-spots.
”We basically want to make sure that we have the infrastructure for our growing population,” she said. “These are all things that are important to the community and we want to make sure that people have a place to meet.”