Eugene Zakhareyev is running for position 4 of the Redmond City Council against Tanika Padhye on a position of representing residents on the council.
Zakhareyev got involved with local politics first as a neighborhood activist looking at land use issues and started getting interested in sitting on the council.
“As a resident, you may or may not influence the city process,” he said. “…I do not feel as a resident that I am well represented today.”
Zakhareyev said the city council is the way residents’ voices are heard, but that many times dissenting opinions on council aren’t represented. Zakhareyev would like to be a voice for his constituents.
An example of this, he said, is the development of Downtown Park. Zakhareyev questioned whether it was necessary to spend $40 million on a roughly two-acre park that he said doesn’t have much room to expand. According to the city website, the park is projected to cost $41.2 million when it is finished.
Zakhareyev said the council should work more closely with residents to implement policies and public works projects.
Transportation issues will be something he hopes to address if elected. He said the city should diversify their approach to reducing congestion instead of, he said, betting so heavily on Sound Transit 3.
If elected, he said he would lobby for King County Metro and Sound Transit to set up more bus routes and to offer more connections for locals.
Affordable housing is another issue Zakhareyev hopes to address in a holistic way, such as developing metrics for determining if projects are actually successful. Approaching the problem of housing in a piecemeal manner has led to some of the city’s problems, Zakhareyev said.
“It has to be holistic and it has to have the buy in of residents,” he said, on both housing and growth.
He’s also skeptical of whether some policies, like a recently approved multi-family tax exemption that gives developers a tax cut to develop high-density projects, will work. He said Bellevue had a similar program but hasn’t seen the results it hoped for.
On businesses in the city, Zakhareyev said he would want to examine impact fees charged on businesses like Microsoft to see if they should be re-evaluated or if they are meeting the city’s financial needs to offset business and development impacts.
He is also concerned about the high cost of doing business in the city driving out local and small shops.
“We are actually in real danger of driving to Woodinville to get our car fixed in a couple of years,” he said.
Zakhareyev also said the public-private organization OneRedmond, which was created to serve as a development agency for large corporations as well as chamber of commerce for smaller ones, has often left small businesses behind who are getting priced out of the city.
As a first-generation immigrant, Zakhareyev said he has experience building bridges between various groups of residents on a wide range of topics.
Bringing together input from the community will be the key to moving the city forward, he said.
“I do believe that with 60,000 people… we should be able to figure out solutions that work for everybody,” he said.
He likened city government to a car, where the residents are the ones who provide the “fuel,” but have been letting the city government drive without much input.
“Your voice as a taxpayer is the thing that moves this whole engine,” he said.
Zakhareyev and Padhye are in a two-way race and will not appear on the Aug. 1 primary ballot, but residents will be able to vote on position 4 in the November election.