On Tuesday, Redmond City Council will select its new member to replace the position former council member Kimberly Allen vacated at the end of January.
A total of 13 applicants stepped forward to fill Pos. 4 and council narrowed that number down to three after interviewing each of them.
The three finalists are Roy Captain, Stephanie Rodriguez and Tanika Padhye.
As part of the application process, candidates submitted a letter of interest stating why they would like to serve on City Council and what they would bring to the table.
In Captain’s letter, he states he was born in Mumbai, India and has lived in Oregon, Michigan, Illinois and Virginia. Captain has lived in Redmond the longest — 12 years — and calls it his home.
Since moving to Redmond in 2005, Captain wrote he has immersed himself in the community and participated in “every possible way (he) could.” He has volunteered at his daughters’ school and assisted international families in learning the ropes in a new school. Captain has also served on the Redmond Planning Commission for two years and is currently vice chair.
In his letter, he also noted the city’s growing immigrant population. Captain wrote that as an immigrant himself, one of his proudest accomplishments as a U.S. citizen has been “helping to bridge the divide between existing society and the growing international population.”
“I love this community,” Captain wrote. “I care deeply about Redmond and the future for our children and grandchildren.”
If selected, Roy said one of his goals would be to improve communication between the city business and property owners — not just to address issues, but also to be proactive and discuss ideas and suggestions for the city’s future. He acknowledged that this is a broad and utopian goal, but he’s “making it (his).”
If selected as the new council member, he is strongly considering running for an additional term in November.
In Rodriguez’s letter, she states that serving on council would be a “valuable opportunity to make an impact in the future of a community that has been a part of (her) life since the very beginning.”
The Redmond native acknowledged the challenge the city faces in creating economic prosperity, preserving and enhancing the community’s quality of life, leveraging the city’s diversity and ensuring all community members have access to goods, services and employment. Rodriguez also acknowledged the challenges that come with that, such as increased traffic and concerns about population density.
Rodriguez states in her letter that her educational background — graduating from Harvard University and Seattle University Law School — and her professional experience working on Microsoft’s investor relations team would serve the community well.
Rodriguez also noted the importance of council reflecting the community it serves. With Mexican, Spanish, American Indian and Filipino roots, she said this background “would add a new dimension of diversity and inclusion to our City Council.”
In Padhye’s letter, the 13-year Redmond resident states that she has the background, skills and passion to effectively serve in local government.
She has served on both the Redmond Planning Commission and Parks and Trails Commission and is a current parks and trails commissioner. She writes that she has served on the Community Centers Stakeholder group and has worked on city projects such as the Redmond Central Connector (Phase II) and Downtown Park. Padhye wrote that while on the Planning Commission, she worked on updating Redmond’s Comprehensive Plan, land-use and zoning issues and the Innovative Housing program.
Padhye wrote that she is passionate about public engagement and has utilized social media and volunteering to connect with others in the community.
“I feel strongly about connecting with Redmond residents because it creates a healthier government that is a reflection of the people it represents,” she wrote.
The final candidate interviews for City Council Pos. 4 will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. After the interviews, council will select the new council member, who will be sworn in that evening and start serving at that City Council meeting.
The new council member will serve the remainder of Allen’s four-year term, which ends Dec. 31.
WHAT IT TAKES TO SERVE
Serving as a City Council member is a large time commitment.
In addition to attending weekly council meetings, members on Redmond City Council are also members of various regional boards, task forces and organizations that help them better serve the Redmond community.
Angela Birney, who has been on council for more than a year, said as a council member you want to be as informed as you can. By being part of regional organizations, she has been able to connect with other new council members from other cities and get a better sense of what is going on at other cities in the region.
Both Birney and Councilman John Stilin said looking to other cities for how they do things and address certain issues helps inform them in making decisions for Redmond as they can see what has worked or hasn’t worked in other communities.
Stilin said to be an effective council member, you have to be involved. He was once asked to calculate about how many hours in a month a council member devotes to serving the city. With the input of other council members, he said on a busy month, it could get up to 80-120 hours.
While for Stilin and Birney — who are retired and a stay-at-home mom, respectively — that is already a lot of time, they both noted that there are other council members who have day jobs and must balance that with their work for the city.
In addition to the time commitment, Birney said council members are also held accountable for decisions made by their predecessors.
“You want to understand why (those decisions were) made,” she said.
Stilin agreed, saying institutional knowledge about what came before you is important for a council member.
The two council members also said it is important to be able to work in a group environment.
“It is a council,” Birney said.