Voters will decide an open Kent City Council seat and pick between two incumbents and their challengers in the three races on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.
John Boyd and Kelly Wiggans-Crawford are running to replace Les Thomas, who decided not to seek reelection as he completes his 20th year on the seven-member council.
Jessie Ramsey is challenging incumbent Marli Larimer while Darryl Jones is challenging incumbent Zandria Michaud. Larimer is in her sixth year as a council member. Michaud is in her fourth year.
The Kent Reporter emailed each candidate the same three questions.
Why are you running for City Council?
Larimer: I’m running to retain my seat on council because while I feel we made lots of progress during my first full term there is much more work to do.
One of the recurring topics that has arisen during my tenure is that of public safety, and rightfully so. I’ve supported initiatives to grow our police force, while at the same time taking steps to ensure illegal drug use is taken off the streets and that accountable treatment options are support available for those in need. We have much more progress to make, and I look forward to continuing the people’s work with my fellow council members, the mayor, and KPD to make Kent a safer city for our residents and businesses.
Ramsey: I am running because I feel that my “outside of the box” approach to problem solving is exactly what Kent needs.
Boyd: I’m running for city council because as a resident of Kent for 27 years, I’ve come to care about this city and its people as if they were my family. As a recent retiree, I finally have the time to focus on my community and its local politics. Kent has serious issues with public safety, homelessness, and fiscal responsibility. As a lifetime worker with a degree in human services, I have an intimate understanding of these issues and their solutions.
As a father and a husband, I want to ensure that my community is a safe place for women and children. I will work with our police officers to protect our people and I’ll work with our health specialists to get people off the street and into the proper care they need. By tackling issues at the source we can enact solutions that have permanent effects. For too long we’ve spent our time and money reacting when we need to be proactive. I love Kent and as your councilman, I’ll make it a better place.
Wiggans-Crawford: I decided to run for Kent City Council Position 3 after I began attending the council meetings last year. I wanted to learn more about what the city was doing to help homeowners and businesses address homelessness and to improve public safety. I lived on the Green River for over 20 years, and watched as the homeless population moved in every summer, and then be pushed to the city core, only to be pushed back to the river in a never-ending cycle. I also noticed areas of the city that were starting to become unsafe in recent years. Through my attendance, I learned the city is trying to do what it can, but I genuinely feel it needs a fresh set of eyes to look for solutions.
Because I have been a familiar face at the meetings, I have cultivated numerous relationships within the city and with organizations who deal directly with the homeless population that I can utilize to create solutions. I have met with the Kent Police to discuss policies, and what support they need from the council. Overall, my top priority is to address homelessness and public safety.
Michaud: I believe Kent residents deserve the best, most experienced representative. These past four years, I’ve shown a track record of effective advocacy and collaboration with city leadership, resulting in positive outcomes.
I’ve worked closely with the police chief, leading to significant changes in our police department. We’ve hired more officers, introduced innovative programs like the Community Immersion Program for new recruits, and the co-responder program that has improved public safety and aided those in need.
We took bold steps, being the first city to adopt essential drug possession and use laws. We restricted spray paint sales to those under 21, reducing graffiti. We allocated resources to a litter clean-up crew and successfully cleaned up Mill Creek Canyon.
When I joined the council, our parks were in dire need of investment. Since then, we’ve made substantial progress, revitalizing West Fenwick, Kherson, Salt Air Vista, and Van Doren’s Landing parks. I’ve consistently supported funding our parks and recreation programs.
I’m committed to continuing this work and making informed decisions for our community. Kent needs a representative who can collaborate effectively with city staff.
Jones: I am running for city council because it’s time for a change. Crime has gone up each of the last four years. The homeless crisis has not been properly addressed, just pushed past the city limit sign. The incumbent candidate promised that she would address both issues, yet they have only gotten worse. As the incumbent was running unopposed, I knew no change was coming. Therefore, I decided to be the change I wanted to see.
Currently, our city believes it is best that residents/businesses of Kent bear the burden of “significant unbudgeted expenses” incurred at the hands of criminals ensconced in the homeless encampment bordering the city. The city does not want to risk a “significant unbudgeted expense” themselves by confronting King County with clear code violations. The city could seek court orders which would require King County to clear our border and pay for the damage caused to our environment. Instead, they would rather we deal with it. As I said, “It is time for a change.”
The people/businesses of Kent need someone on the council who sees Kent from their perspective. Someone who is open to collaboration but not afraid to fight for what the people want.
What do you enjoy about living in Kent?
Larimer:Kent still feels like a small town in a lot of ways. I always run into someone to know just running errands. I love staying connected to our history at the Kent Historical Society events and museum and meeting new friends and neighbors at all the city, parks, and community group of events all year long. And the food! I love trying new things and we have the best ethnic food options in the region, imo!
Ramsey: I have always loved the diversity here, along with the “small town” feel of small businesses and localized policing.
Boyd: I enjoy the fact that Kent is a place where you can still afford to raise a family. I’ve worked at Boeing for 37 years and was able to afford a home and the needs of my family. That affordability is beginning to slip away as the population expands in the region which has motivated me to want to help Kent plan for the future. We can revitalize our community, make it a more workable community, and keep home prices down for our children and their children.
I love that Kent is so close to amazing natural beauty. Mount Rainier is nearly always in view, we have gorgeous parks, and we’re well situated between the coast and the mountains. Most of all I love that Kent is a community. Whether it’s school fairs, events at the community center, or meeting a friend for a drink, Kent is a welcoming place. I’m proud to call this city home and I’m going to continue to for the rest of my life.
Wiggans-Crawford: I love the diversity, the people, and the community. Kent has many great things to offer its residents, from world-class leaders in space and aerospace companies to a wide variety of culinary choices, and great places to shop. We have many stores that cater to our diverse populations, and I can often source hard to find ingredients close to home for the dishes I am making. If I need unique spices; I have Mediterranean, African, Eastern European, Indian, Asian markets (the list goes on and on), to choose from. If I’m looking for a unique gift, I can turn to any of the markets, or wander the shops downtown. Kent’s beauty lies in its diversity, and the people who make up our community.
Michaud: Kent is home. It’s where I grew up and chose to live. I love the variety of restaurants, entertainment, shops, and services. I enjoy being able to go to dinner and a movie with a short drive or watching concerts and hockey games right here in Kent with free parking.
I love our proximity to transportation like the Sounder, light rail, and airport.
Let’s not forget about our parks and trails. If I don’t have time to drive to the mountains, Clark Lake and Lake Fenwick Trail are beautiful options right here in Kent.
I love the abundance of services and opportunities the city provides to residents. We have one of the most robust recreation departments. Youth can participate in all sorts of sports, dance, and music. And seniors can go on fishing and hiking trips or enjoy daily community lunches at the Senior Center. There’s something for everyone in Kent.
Most of all, I love the people, organizations, and staff who choose to live and work here. Kent’s strength lies in the people who work tirelessly to make it a better place to live and work, and it’s this sense of community and shared purpose that makes Kent exceptional.
Jones: I enjoy the fact that Kent has big city amenities but maintains a quaint, small city feel.
I can take in dinner and enjoy Hollywood’s latest releases at Kent Station. If I want to be close to nature and just relax, I can go to Lake Fenwick Park or the Green River Trail. If I were in need of groceries, then there are not just a multitude of chain stores for me to choose from but quite a few small ethnic grocery stores as well.
There is also the fact that the public transit network in Kent is extensive and well connected. The Sounder train can take you as far north as Everett and south as far as Lakewood. The King County Metro bus lines can get you to many of the malls in our area as well as Sea-Tac Airport.
Finally, I enjoy having the men and women who are serving in the Kent Police Department working in the city. On those occasions when I interacted with a member of the force, they were always professional and respectful and you don’t find that in every city.
What is your future vision for Kent?
Larimer: In the coming year, the City Council will be developing a plan that drives our vision for our city, and I feel my experience on the council, as well as my continued advocacy for my constituents makes me uniquely qualified to help shape Kent into a safer city that supports businesses and families of all sizes and backgrounds. I continue to ask tough questions of my peers and staff, and have always advocated for the residents of Kent.
One of my priorities is to shape Kent into a city that is cleaner, safer, and more attractive to businesses and families of all sizes and backgrounds. In addition to expanding public safety programs and staffs, we need stricter code enforcement and more economic development staff to make the progress we deserve. I’d like to see more vitality and density (density equals people living near and shopping local small businesses) across the entire city, from our downtown corridor, as well as on East and West Hills. As well as program to support middle housing types and new home ownership opportunities. Those are the things I’ll be fighting for as we plan the future of our city.
Ramsey: My vision of Kent is a city with a diverse, bustling population, expanding business, and fiscally socially sound policies.
Boyd: My vision for Kent is one that protects what makes this city so great while actively preparing for the future. By tackling our issues at the source we can prevent them from worsening in the future. Problems like homelessness become more manageable when we build the proper facilities, hire the proper personnel, and build more housing. It costs less money in the long run to follow the evidence and listen to the experts. I want to keep Kent affordable and the only way to do that is to build more housing. We can accomplish this while balancing our city’s character by enabling homeowners to densify their own lots and placing apartment complexes where it makes sense.
The city of Minneapolis was able to beat inflation compared to the rest of the nation by doing this so my question is why can’t we do that here? This is a city of nearly 135,000 people that’s only continuing to grow. We are capable of keeping our community safe, balancing our budget, and fixing ingrown problems. I say let’s get started.
Wiggans-Crawford: My future vision for Kent is to see Kent continue to grow and embrace its diverse community and build a future for our children. We need more places where people can congregate and meet. We need spaces for our children to gather and potentially learn new skills. I would like to see Kent invest in the future of our young people, and create programs catered to teaching kids skills for their future, for example; makers spaces, mechanic classes, programming, etc. Not all kids can or want to go to college and giving them spaces where they can engage with other people who share their interests, helps them build pride in their community.
I would also like to see Kent encourage more small businesses and shops in the downtown area. Other towns and cities around us have revitalized the shopping districts by encouraging antique stores, unique restaurants, and boutiques. I would like to see similar in the shuttered storefronts Kent currently has along its main streets. People could have a scone and tea, wander through one-of-a-kind stores, and end the day eating tandoori chicken.
Michaud: My future vision for Kent is one that encompasses a thriving and inclusive community that enhances the quality of life for all its residents.
I envision safe neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, and plentiful parks and trails. Vibrant business districts will offer a variety of shops and restaurants, creating a lively and inviting downtown core where community events flourish.
In this vision, we prioritize recreational opportunities for people of all ages, ensuring everyone can engage in activities they enjoy. We’ll also place a high emphasis on environmental sustainability, revitalizing our rivers, streams, and open spaces to preserve our natural environment.
Additionally, I advocate for services that cater to individual needs and promote inclusive housing options for all residents. In my vision, Kent becomes a place where people can live, work, and access services and entertainment conveniently.
In pursuing this vision for Kent, I am committed to working collaboratively with my fellow council members, community leaders, and residents. Together, we can make Kent an even better place to live, work, and raise a family, ensuring a bright and sustainable future for all.
Jones: My vision for Kent’s future is inconsequential.
Elected officials should be there to carry out the will of the people, not their own personal agenda. If Kent residents decide to elect me to office, then the future will be what they want it to be.
Residents will be able to call me with their concerns/suggestions, though email would be preferable as it makes it easier to categorize the issues. I want to hear from the silent majority, as the will of the many should shape the future of Kent.
With that being said, as a Kent resident I do have thoughts on Kent’s future. However, I will not act on these contemplations unless the masses want me to.
I envision a lower crime rate as I wish to see those who have committed crimes incarcerated, regardless of their race.
I see King County being forced to act with regards to the removal of the homeless habitat that sits just outside of our city limits, which will also decrease the crime rate.
I have a vision of a downtown corridor with no plywood covering storefronts, thus attracting more businesses to move to Kent.
What I see is a return to normalcy.
Kent City Council candidates
Position No. 1
Position No. 3
Position No. 5
Position No. 7