Q&A with Kent City Council candidates Bhullar, Thomas

Police, homelessness are among the issues

Les Thomas, left, and Hira Singh Bhullar. COURTESY PHOTOS

Les Thomas, left, and Hira Singh Bhullar. COURTESY PHOTOS

Challenger Hira Singh Bhullar is running against incumbent Les Thomas for Position 3 on the Kent City Council.

The Kent Reporter emailed the same three questions to each candidate and gave them one week to respond. They were asked to limit their answers to each question to 200 words or less.

The general election is Nov. 5. King County Elections mailed ballots Oct. 16.

Q: Does Kent need more police officers? If no, why not? If yes, how would you propose to pay for more officers?

Bhullar: Yes, we need to ensure that our police officers in Kent feel supported by their City Council members. I would work with the police chief, officers and support staff to hear their concerns and suggestions on how to propose additional police officers.

In addition to more officers, we also need more investment to improve the department’s technology infrastructure, intelligence capabilities and resources. We must hear out the concerns of the boots on the ground.

Thomas: Yes, Kent needs more police officers. Our number of police officers per thousand is way below cities of comparable size, and they have to cover a much larger area since Kent is so spread out.

Presently our council is planning on spending dollars from our red-light cameras to help pay for new officers, so we shouldn’t have to raise taxes for this particular need.

Q: What is your proposal for reducing the number of homeless in Kent?

Bhullar: We must continue to work with state and county leaders to ensure our city has the resources and support to tackle the homelessness issue here in Kent. We must look in detail at current programs dealing with homelessness to see if they are working.

We must work with the social workers and program staff to see if the programs they are implementing are working. If they aren’t? We must bring these folks into discussion with city and county leaders to hear their voices and concerns.

Thomas: Cities across America are looking for an answer to reduce homelessness. I am not for giving things away; however, perhaps there is a way we can help supplement housing for those in severe need like widows and/or single moms with children.

Q: Why should residents vote for you?

Bhullar: As a father, community leader and proud Kent resident, I want to ensure that the vibrant community that welcomed my family and I with wide open arms continues to do so for the next generation of Kent residents.

I have served Kent through volunteering, mentorship and public advocacy. I volunteer my skills on the boards of Kent Youth and Family Services, Kent YMCA, Kent Schools Foundation, Rotary Club, and the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy Advisory Board. I want to continue serving you so we can work together and solve these challenges.

I will be a tireless advocate to keeping Kent affordable by working with private and public partnerships to ensure there are living-wage jobs here in Kent. No more driving hours to get to work and back, we must ensure that the talent pool in Kent stays in Kent. I want to meet with the police chief and support staff to see what is working and what we as a community can do better.

I want to meet with the social workers and community health professionals to see what is working and what is not working regarding our homeless population. I want to bring a listening first approach to the council.

Thomas: Why should residents vote for me … in a word experience. I have been on the Kent City Council for 16 years, one year on the King County Council and five years in the House of Representatives in Olympia. In all those years I have developed close relationships with many of our elected and appointed elected officials.

Relationships are key to getting things done in the political world. I have accomplished much in all those years but there is more to be done and I want to be a part of it. With your support and your vote, I can get much done.

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