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Few challengers in this years election
ARLINGTON After the June 8 filing deadline for town, city and school district offices, Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson and City Council members Marilyn Oertle, in Position 5, and Dick Butner, in Position 6, found themselves running unopposed, but there are still a few races with competition in North Snohomish County.
In the Position 3 race, challenger Barbara Tolbert was quick to praise the Council for its accomplishments, but she nonetheless believes she could contribute constructively to its decisions.
Tolbert cited her participation in the citys economic development committee and acknowledged the balance that she feels must be struck between managing urban growth and preserving the quality-of-life issues that citizens have come to expect from their community.
With the Northwest Experimental Aircraft Association and the annual Fly-In, Ive been in leadership roles of developing strategies for the future, with limited financing and infrastructure, Tolbert said. Obviously, the scope is different, but the processes and types of challenges are similar. They require attention to detail and long-range planning.
Tolbert spoke highly of the Councils moves to foster partnerships with Smokey Point and upgrade Olympic Avenue, while also identifying the importance of smart development.
Tolberts choice of position was inspired not by the incumbent, but by the length of the term, since Position 3 has a two-year-term, as opposed to the four-year terms of the other positions.
It was a tough choice, because all the Council members are doing fine jobs, Tolbert said. With a two-year-term, though, it allows people to see whether Im a good fit for the Council. This is the next step in my volunteerism in Arlington and I hope we can attract more citizens to get involved with their government.
Position 3 incumbent Scott Solla, who was appointed a year ago, welcomed Tolbert to the race with humor.
They always pick on the new guy, joked Solla, before turning serious. Its okay, though, as long as the city and its citizens come out winners.
Solla pointed to his experience so far in city government as a qualification for continuing in his position, even as he admitted that he hasnt called a great deal of attention to himself.
A lot of people look at me as the quiet one, Solla said. I havent been actively vocal, but thats been by design. Ive learned a tremendous amount about the rich history of Arlington and what its citizens want this city to be.
Solla echoed concerns with preserving the citys current sense of community, but he believes that this can only be achieved by accepting urban growth as a fact of life that must be planned for.
To keep our small-town charm and family feel, we have to acknowledge that development is already here and deal with the issues it brings, Solla said. I love everything about this area, except for the traffic on 172nd Street, and I want to continue to help make it all it can be.
Solla wants to see the reconstruction of Olympic Avenue lead into a revitalization of the downtown, which draws new merchants while supporting businesses. He also echoed Tolberts sentiments about Arlingtons relationship with Smokey Point, before identifying his top priorities for the future.
The Arlington Airport is our number one ingredient for success, Solla said. Its a common point of commerce, education and recreation that can serve as an entryway to the community and bring it together. This city boasts a unique blend of resources, right in its backyard.
Solla expressed an equal concern with upholding public safety.
The input Ive received from citizens is that they want this area to remain a place where they can raise their kids, where it will still be safe for them to play, Solla said. Downtown improvements are important, but if this city doesnt continue to feel like someplace you can walk down the street and visit with your neighbors, then its all for naught.
In the Position 4 race, challenger Blair Anderson declared his disappointment with the Councils actions on land use.
The work we did on the Arlington Cocoon House was one of the only projects we did through the city that went through smoothly, said Anderson, a senior government affairs manager for developer Barclays North. South of town, we went through challenges that no individual should go through. Ill probably call Sally [Lien] to tell her this isnt personal, though. I just want to bring a fresh perspective.
Anderson cited his contacts in Olympia and Lake Stevens, as well as more locally, as resources he could draw upon while also giving the Council credit for its current stance on quality-of-life issues.
Theyve done a good job with parks and trails, Anderson said. Im concerned with minimum housing size, though, since first-time homebuyers should have affordable places to live in town. I also think the TDR is a huge issue, which the Council has not worked out the kinks of yet.
Position 4 incumbent Sally Lien kept her own remarks relatively brief.
Im not finished doing my job just yet, Lien said. I feel like I need to go out on a positive note. This will probably be my last term. Ive been on the Council for more than 12 years, three and a half of which Ive served as Mayor Pro-Tem. I was born and raised in Arlington. I know this city and Im dedicated to doing this job right.
In the council-at-large position, challenger Virginia Hatch conceded that a number of incumbents are running unopposed in this election.
Its likely that a lot of people are happy with the steps the mayor and the Council have taken, but if thats the case, then what am I doing running? Hatch laughed. Theyve been doing a great job. I wouldnt want to jump on a wagon that I feel is headed in the wrong direction, after all. At the same time, there are things I think I can add to the mix.
Hatch has made a habit of attending Council meetings and commended the Council for its focus on infrastructure needs, but she wants more of her fellow citizens to feel connected to their city government.
Im involved in a lot of different organizations and the sense I get from several people is that not all of them have a sense of access to the process, Hatch said. Arlington is a volunteer town, where folks try to take care of each other, but individuals and groups alike can still flounder if they dont understand the process. The Performing Arts Center is a great example of what can happen when people work together, but there are so many instances when we could have done more to smooth that path of access.
One community issue that Hatch hopes to see reformed is the current system of city code enforcement.
Right now, its entirely complaint-driven, which weve long since outgrown, Hatch said. Most people dont want to make their neighbors mad, so if codes are only enforced when people complain it becomes completely arbitrary. We need to level the playing field as theyve already done in most other communities.
Council-at-Large Position incumbent Graham Smith was more brief in his comments, touting his previous experience and lack of a learning curve in city issues ranging from water and sewer to public safety and parks and recreation, as qualifications.
I also have 30 years of experience in financial business so I look at this city as something that needs to be run like a business, Smith said. Plus, I have the ability to put in the extra hours that my position demands, which is difficult to do. I look forward to meeting the needs of traffic, public safety and economic development. Those are my top three concerns.
In the town of Darrington, Mayor Joyce Jones and Town Council members Frankie Nations, in Position 3, Daniel Rankin, in Position 4, and Kerry Frable, in Position 5, are all running unopposed.
The Arlington School Districts Jeff Huleatt is running unopposed for District Director 1, just as Kay Duskin is running unopposed for District Director 4, while Glen Reid and Jim Weiss are both running for District Director 2. The Lakewood School Districts Gregory Jensen and Jill Leonard are also running unopposed for District Director 4 and 5, respectively.
Darrington School District Director 1 Andrew Hatfield, Director 3 Judith Nevitt, Director 4 Tim Lovell and Director 5 Julie Kuntz are all running unopposed.