Birney and Fields discuss transportation, growth and more in Redmond

The forum was held at First Baptist Church last Friday.

Candidates for Redmond mayor were invited to First Baptist Church of Redmond for a candidate forum held by the Education Hill Neighborhood Association on Oct. 3.

The two mayoral candidates are city council president Angela Birney and councilmember Steve Fields. Both Birney and Fields had the opportunity to introduce themselves and respond to questions posed and submitted by community members.

Topics presented by community members included the $42 million investment in Downtown Park, community priority imbalance, property safety, homelessness and the senior center. Among the big topics of the night were transportation, affordability and growth in Redmond.

When asked what the top two or three problems that Redmond’s rapid growth has caused, Fields said it was the ability to get around the city. He said the city was not careful in creating a transportation plan.

“We have grown rapidly and we’ve also not been careful about how we did it…We’re suffering from that,” he said. “We’ve been trapped in our cars at certain times of the day and I believe, unnecessarily.”

Fields said the city could have built better infrastructure and could have been “more bold” in creating smart city technology. He later added that technology is going to be the city’s friend as it will provide the needed data and information. He also suggested that the city needs to make a transportation plan today in order to be prepared for the four light rail stations coming to Redmond in 2023 and 2024.

“We need to be prepared for [light rail] and have equitable systems of transportation where everyone can access this regional advantage that we’re going to get,” he said.

On the topic of transportation, Birney said the city is already working on alternative transportation options.

“We have a very intensive transportation plan and extensive plans for the city,” she said. “We’re in the process of building four light rail stations and we have to wait…meanwhile, we are trying to adapt to the challenges we have with density.”

Birney said the city has already changed street grids to allow different ways to get through town. She also said the city has improved and is improving bike paths and trails for alternative transportation options. Birney said the city needs to work with King County Metro and encourage the agency to change its methods and tactics for how it prescribes routes in the bus system.

In closing, Fields said he believes Redmond needs to be bold, plan big and build incrementally for a very long time.

“We are behind and we need to move fast. We need a mayor who has courage to asses and be honest, and [who can] empower people,” Fields said.

Birney said Redmond is an “amazing place” to live and believes the city has a lot of opportunities ahead.

“I think that we are in a place as a city where we are a regional leader and will continue to be a regional leader,” she said. “We have amazing projects happening…that is because we did plan for the future and with that, we will continue to plan for the future.”

Visit the Redmond Reporter’s Facebook page for the full video of the candidate forum.

The general election is Nov. 5.