Three people have filed to run for Yakima City Council District 5.

The seat has been held by Mayor Kathy Coffey, who is not running for re-election

One of the biggest decisions the council will have to make in upcoming months is the hiring of a new city manager. Cliff Moore, the city’s current manager, will leave the position Aug. 20 and discussions have only just started about how to find a replacement.

The council must continue to make difficult decisions about keeping a balanced budget and how to maintain city services with limited resources. Gang prevention, crime reduction, and finishing massive road construction projects, including the East-West Corridor and renovations to North First Street, have all been major council priorities and projects in recent months.

Council members also likely will continue controversial conversations over flights chartered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to transport undocumented individuals that started operating into and out of the Yakima Air Terminal at McAllister Field on May 7.

Council members serve four-year terms. They receive $1,075 per month for their service.

The primary election is Aug. 6. The top two candidates will advance to the general election Nov. 5.

Those who applied for the District 5 position, in alphabetical order, are Mark Collins, Liz Hallock and Soneya Lund.

We asked each candidate the same four questions. Here are paraphrased summaries of their answers:

Mark Collins

What is the biggest challenge Yakima faces, and how would you address it?

The biggest challenge I see that Yakima faces is trust and faith in its city leaders. The last few years have seen a disintegration of trust in the Yakima council and city manager, and as a new council member I will work hard to communicate with the citizens and work on each challenge in a thoughtful, measured manner to work toward a solution. I believe transparency and open communication is critical for the city to gain back trust from the citizens

What can the city do to further address gang violence?

A focus on smart policing and leveraging all of the tools and technology available to police is critical, while prevention is key to getting ahead of the problem and addressing it long-term. Investment in programs targeting at-risk youths is the best way to make those youths part of our community and reduce their risk for joining gangs.

What are your budget priorities? Where should cuts be made?

Public safety and infrastructure, especially roads, are critical to support business growth and a safe community. If elected, I will carefully evaluate each department within the city to make sure it is efficient and leveraging technology to give citizens better services, at a lower cost.

What will you do as a council member to foster community cohesion and cooperation?

I will make sure that I’m available to all of my constituency to receive their emails, messages and letters. I believe listening first before making critical decisions is important, and we need to listen to the entire community to foster community cohesion.

LIZ HALLOCK

What is the biggest challenge Yakima faces, and how would you address it?

The biggest challenges are lack of inclusion, crime, and quality of life issues. We do not invest in the low-

income communities. We need more local recruits from the local community in the police force. We need to reallocate our resources and really invest in community policing. We have a problem with undocumented immigrants feeling unsafe, and every one needs to feel safe.

What can the city do to further address gang violence?

We need a massive intervention right now. These kids have no jobs, no mentors. They are looking for a sense of belonging and some sense of community, and we are failing these children. We had a program that was working and we need to re-invest in that program. We need to give these kids economic opportunities.

What are your budget priorities? Where should cuts be made?

First and foremost, Yakima needs a financial voice and a financial vision. Businesses are constantly in search of new revenue, and Yakima should be as well. Open government will be a priority to me when it comes to crafting fiscal policy, and programs like potential impact fees on developers, convention center expansion, and similar controversial large-scale projects must have public hearings.

We spend almost as much as we do on debt servicing ($8 million) as we do on transit ($10 million), and transit took cuts this year. Without fiscal responsibility and beefing up our reserves, we end up spending more on debt servicing and damage our credit rating. Money is finite in this city, and Yakima needs someone like me who really understands finance and what’s going on in the state and national economy.

I strongly disagree with the way affordable housing is being handled in this community. I believe in zoning fixes and allowing the free market to take over, not simply throwing more money at the problem and constructing projects that are lavish relative to what is needed.

What will you do as a council member to foster community cohesion and cooperation?

The council needs to be less concerned about taking credit for things and more on getting business done. I would be a full-time City Council member. I work especially well with the business community and with the lower-income communities. I would be that link on the council. I would be focused on bringing development to low-income and downtown communities.

SONEYA LUND

What is the biggest challenge Yakima faces, and how would you address it?

Yakima, not unlike any other city of its size, faces challenges: homelessness, drug abuse, gangs, economic divide. But honestly I think all of those stem from one common issue: We stand in our own way. Our response to change or progress is always apprehensive at best. We need to stop coming from a place of “no” and start thinking in terms of “how.”

I have always been and always will be a collaborator. Studies have proven time and time again that curtailing negative behaviors start with positive influence on children. When it comes to tackling the challenges Yakima faces, I believe the answer lies in programs and education for children and youth.

What can the city do to further address gang violence?

I believe in 21st century policing. I recently went on a ride-along with a YPD officer. His presence in the neighborhoods was welcomed and he showed to have a great relationship with residents there. But it doesn’t stop there. I believe identifying community leaders within those troubled neighborhoods and supporting their efforts can make real change.

And when we are talking about big-picture solutions in regards to anything — gangs, homelessness, etc. — the real work needs to start with children. Collaboration with Yakima school district to fund after-school activities and extracurricular programs such as the arts and sports will produce positive results in the long term.

What are your budget priorities? Where should cuts be made?

First off, I’m not sure any cuts need to be made. The economy is strong and is driving our sales and property tax collections. The council made some difficult decisions last year that started the city’s budget on the right path, after years of deficit spending. And that’s a good thing.

My budget priorities are simple: Fund the basics first. Police, fire, water, sewer, parks, roads, etc. Those city programs get fully funded before anything else is considered.

What will you do as a council member to foster community cohesion and cooperation?

As a City Council member I would be dedicated to my constituents. I believe communication should be transparent and open. I commit to answering my phone, responding to emails, making time to meet, and holding regular community listening forums. My role as a City Council member would be to represent not only my district but the people of Yakima, which means I won’t go into this with my own agenda. My chosen career has taught me incredible listening skills and I am honest in my communication. I will bring that to the council chambers.

Reach Lex Talamo at ltalamo@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @LexTalamo.