Covington taps a business owner

David Lucavish, a local business owner active in the Covington Chamber of Commerce, has been selected by the Covington City Council to fill Position 4 which has been vacant since June 30.

David Lucavish, a local business owner active in the Covington Chamber of Commerce, has been selected by the Covington City Council to fill Position 4 which has been vacant since June 30.

Lucavish, who has lived in Covington since December 1997, was the council’s choice at a meeting Tuesday to fill the seat left open when Bud Sizemore resigned.

During the first portion of the meeting, city attorney Amy Jo Pearsall, serving as moderator of the public forum, asked the five applicants for the council seat — Lucavish, Charles Soper, Paul Bernal, William Simpson and Sean Smith — six questions about their vision for the city, transportation, economic development and other topics.

Lucavish has served on the Covington Economic Development Council (CEDC), which is an advisory group for the city, and attended council meetings since 2000.

“My vision would be a vibrant downtown with connecting trails and connection to parks, a downtown center where citizens can get together and look at art and maybe listen to some music – basically have Covington be a great place to live, work and play,” Lucavish said.

He’s also pleased the city has hired an economic development manager, Shalini Bansal, who started this week.

“Some of the things she’ll probably strategize will be looking for opportunities for downtown Covington to grow,” Lucavish said. “Maybe create a development fund so that when opportunities arise, we can jump on them.”

Lucavish, a soft-spoken man who owns a computer store in Kent, also said he would like to see the City Council continue working with CEDC and the chamber and strengthen those alliances.

“That’s a good partnership. That’s created a lot of trust between the city and the business community,” he said. “There are also some opportunities where we might think about getting some businesses that feed together and use each other’s services that will help strengthen the economy.”

All the applicants agreed that traffic is a problem and the city needs to make improvements in the transportation infrastructure, including road improvements and more mass transit.

“One of the things that my neighbors tell me is that a lot of times bus service here is once every hour,” Lucavish said.”And if the buses are late, it’s not convenient. We need to somehow get more trips per hour out to our area. A strategy might be having a transfer station near downtown. We do have some railroad tracks, and maybe another strategy since they’re already there would be to create some sort of connection to Auburn for people who go to downtown Seattle for a living. That could reduce traffic.”

Another issue candidates were asked about was public safety, something Lucavish said “is one of those core services that the city provides – fire, police, emergency management.”

“It’s something the city has been making great strides in improving over the last five or six years,” he said. “The other part of safety would be our sidewalks. One area that seems to be really bad is the 164th Street area where there’s just nothing on either side, and that needs to be improved quickly.”

Regarding parks, Lucavish said “it’s hard to put a dollar value on them. For our kids, it helps their self-esteem, helps them to learn to socialize and it also promotes a healthy attitude.”

Lucavish said he has “been coming to council meetings, actually most of them, since 2000. I’m very active in the community. Most people seem to know me. I really would like the opportunity to serve.”

At the suggestion of Councilman Jeff Wagner, the council voted to swear in Lucavish as its new member at the next regular council meeting on Aug. 26 in order to give him time to read up on the issues the council will have on its agenda.

After the community forum for the candidates, the council spent about 20 minutes on average with each one, asking them questions to probe their qualifications, get further information about topics like economic development and transportation, as well as potential conflicts of interest and how those may be handled, among other topics.

“They appreciated Dave’s long history in the community, his service on the Chamber of Commerce board and on CEDC, and the fact that more than any other applicant, he could hit the ground running,” said city manager Derek Matheson.

The council members encouraged the other four men who applied to get involved with the city by applying for one of its commissions.

Other than Simpson, who has lived in Covington for nearly 30 years and has been retired for six years, the candidates are relative newcomers to the city. Bernal, a senior business development manager, has lived in Covington for six years, Smith has lived in the city for about two years and is the regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, and Soper, a stay-at-home dad, has also lived here for about two years.

Because Lucavish was appointed to a position that will be subject to election in November 2009, whoever wins the seat nxt year will have to take office immediately after the election is certified and serve a “short term,” in accordance with state law. A short term” is the brief period that begins when election results are certified and ends with the start of the “full” term, according to city officials. There is a short term only if an elective office has been filled by appointment following a vacancy.

Staff writer Kris Hill can be reached at (425) 432-1209 (extension 5054) and