Arlington City Council appoints Nelson to fill vacant seat

Debora Nelson describes herself as a team player with strong community ties during her interview with the Arlington City Council on Nov. 16. - Kirk Boxleitner
Debora Nelson describes herself as a team player with strong community ties during her interview with the Arlington City Council on Nov. 16.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — Debora Nelson is an Arlington business owner who’s served as president of the Downtown Arlington Business Association and was a candidate in this year’s primaries for the Arlington mayor’s race.

As of Nov. 21, she can add another title to her list of roles after being sworn in as the Arlington City Council member for Position 3.

On Nov. 16, the City Council reviewed applications from and interviewed all eight candidates for the position left vacant when Council member Scott Solla passed away on Sept. 3 of this year after a long battle with cancer. Other candidates included Vickie Solla, widow of Council member Scott Solla, as well as retired Arlington Fire Chief Jim Rankin, local Smokey Point resident Michael Rexford, Seattle firefighter Craig Christianson, Arlington business owner Marcia Smothers, Arlington architect Ruth Gonzales, and Andy Tift, manager of the Marysville Holiday Inn Express and member of the Marysville Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and Snohomish County Tourism Promotion Area Board.

During her interview, Nelson noted that she’s a regular attendee of the Council’s meetings, which she sees as her responsibility not only as a local business owner, but also as a citizen who’s concerned about the city’s budget.

“I’ve seen you all struggling with these tax issues,” Nelson said. “I’m nervous that a sales tax increase wouldn’t bring in that much more revenue, and I don’t think the car tab proposal would make for good policy. It doesn’t build public trust.”

Nelson credited her photography business with keeping her in touch not only with the needs of fellow local small businesses, since she has to be careful about her own budget, but also with the natural beauty of the surrounding community and with the youth in its schools.

“I’ve met a lot of kids through senior year photographs whom I’ve helped on paths toward college,” Nelson said.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, Nelson had already informed DABA that she would be stepping down as their president if she was appointed to the Council. Looking to the future, she told the Council during her interview that she was excited about the West Arlington development plans and the work that’s been done on Centennial Trail, including the impending installation of public bathrooms at Legion Park.

“That’s actually very exciting for our downtown businesses,” Nelson laughed. “Anything that can get us more traffic can get us more tax income.”

After interviewing all eight candidates, Marilyn Oertle expressed a sentiment which her fellow City Council members echoed, as she described the difficulty of choosing between eight candidates whom she deemed as all being highly qualified individuals who “could all readily fill the seat.”

Following close to an hour of closed-door deliberations that same evening, the Council returned to an open session and voted unanimously, 5-0, to appoint Nelson to fill the vacant seat.

Upon her appointment, Nelson concurred with Oertle’s assessment.

“I am truly honored for this selection,” Nelson said. “The Council had an incredible group of candidates to choose from. I will do my best to represent the interests of all the city’s residents and businesses.”


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