As a former small business owner who’s ready to give back to his city in another way, City Council candidate James Evans’ priority is making it easy for small, local businesses to open and stay open.
Evans describes buying Eastside Gymnastics Academy, where he used to be a student and later a coach, as his "first baptism into what it’s like to work with the city." (He owned Eastside Gymnastics Academy from 2006 to 2008, and is now a strategy consultant for a government relations company.)
"One of the things that makes Woodinville special is the many, many small and medium locally-owned businesses," said Evans, who’s lived in Woodinville for almost 30 years, since first grade.
He added, "The city should do anything it can to foster and grow relationships with those businesses."
Although he acknowledges the city needs rules and regulations for businesses, he wants to make it as easy as possible for businesses to comply with those rules. He also wants to avoid arbitrary rules, hurdles and paperwork involved in setting up a business.
In keeping with that philosophy, he said he would support a business license only if it was necessary and helpful to businesses.
"If Woodinville needs to generate revenue to serve businesses better, then I understand that," he said. "... But if they’re looking for a way to make it harder to open a small business, I think, quite frankly, they’ve done that already."
Evans also values Woodinville’s "natural wonders," and believes in preserving nature while also letting the city grow.
He said it can be difficult to get in and out of town, and the city needs to fix traffic problems with projects like the ongoing Sammamish River bridge replacement — but not, for example, put a five-lane highway through the Sammamish River Valley.
"Transportation needs to support growth, but it also needs to support the natural wonders of Woodinville," he said.
He said he doesn’t have enough information to decide yet if the city should annex the Valley, but if so, it would have to "be done with delicate gloves."
"Growth is impossible to put off forever, and I’m pro- Woodinville getting bigger and better," he said. He thinks the best way to do that is by preserving open space in the Valley, concentrating growth and development downtown, and maintaining R1 zones.
Overall, he wants to see Woodinville change in a way that preserves the things people like about it.
"I don’t want Woodinville to lose the small-town look and feel," he said.