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Candidates vie for City Council positions

The Arlington Times recently sent out a survey to the candidates for city and county offices in the upcoming elections, from the Arlington City Council to the Snohomish County Executive. All of the candidates vying for the same office were asked the same questions. Upcoming issues of The Arlington Times will spotlight answers from county-level elected officials, but for now, we present the answers of the contested City Council members. Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson and City Council members Dick Butner and Sally Lien are running unopposed, as are the members of the Arlington School District Board of Directors who are up for election. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 6.

Member At Large

Virginia Hatch
1. If elected, what are your first priorities upon taking office?
My first, and ongoing, set of priorities for issues brought to the Council will be to listen, to request balanced information that is based in fact, to confer with other Council members and listen to public comment, to make my own informed decisions and to be prepared to explain the basis of those decisions. We have a broad range of issues on which we must work, including safety, economic development, supporting infrastructure, quality of life and preserving the character of Arlington. These issues truly are interrelated and we cannot just pick and choose one or two at a time and put everything else on hold, but must be continually working on some level on all of these issues.
My second, and ongoing, set of priorities will be to help find ways to make our city government more understandable and more accessible to Arlington citizens, and to encourage citizen participation with the city government. It is broad citizen involvement that keeps government answerable to the people.
2. Which job qualifications or positions distinguish you most from your opposition?
As an active member of a large number of community groups for the last nine years, I have been and am involved with a broad cross-section of Arlington citizens. This gives me a clearer understanding of what our citizens priorities, concerns and hopes are for themselves, their families and for Arlington. I am keenly aware of the many strengths and talents in our community, and am eager to facilitate the needed partnerships between citizens and the city to tackle community issues and goals.
Another strength that I believe I have is that of seeing that a piece is just part of a whole, that a decision on one thing very often has a ripple effect on other issues. If we are not paying close attention and looking at the long view, seemingly small decisions we make now can veer us off course, sometimes in ways that cannot be reversed. All of these metaphors are simply saying, We had better look, and look hard, before we leap.
3. What concrete steps would you take to reduce crime and ensure public safety?
Currently our police chief seems to be taking two contradictory positions on crime and public safety. On the one hand, he says citizens need to become more aware of crime and to take safety precautions, which, by his estimate, could reduce crime in Arlington by half. At the same time, he states that he does not disclose the actual crime that takes place in our community because it would scare people.
I find these two positions incongruous. We want people to be more aware and take precautions to prevent crime, but we dont want to upset people with facts that would encourage them to take these precautions. Additionally, as a citizen, I am uncomfortable with someone within my local government deciding what I do and dont need to know.
To resolve these two contradictory policies, I would request:
A full and factual monthly accounting of crimes statistics, along with statistics from previous time periods so that the mayor, Council and public can have an accurate overview of crime in our community.
Crime reduction targets and a quarterly reporting to the Council and the public on how well those goals are being met.
A committee with representation from citizens, the police department and City Council be formed and dedicated to researching, developing and implementing a proactive and meaningful community wide crime awareness and prevention program.
I agree with the City Council decision to fund additional police staff. I also agree with the police chief when he says that crime could be significantly reduced by citizens taking additional safety precautions. I strongly believe an informed public is more likely to take those steps.
4. To what extent should gambling be legalized within the City limits, if at all, and why? What consequences could occur as a result and how might those be offset?
I do not want to see any extension of gambling within the city limits of Arlington. I am not philosophically opposed to all gambling, but I am dismayed at the way our communities, counties, state and country have become saturated with gambling. There comes a time when citizens need to say, Enough is enough, no more. In Arlington, I think that time is now. We do not have to jump on the bandwagon just because some of our neighboring communities have. Arlington has its own standards for quality of life, and I dont believe most of our citizens want that to include chasing the supposed easy money from notoriously unreliable, here today, gone tomorrow gambling revenues. Any temporary gains in gambling revenue can disappear just as quickly as they appear. Any number of communities can attest to this. Where we need to continue to put our efforts is in seeking businesses and companies that provide good working conditions, worthwhile products, wages on which people can raise a family, and a reliable source of tax revenue.
5. Where should the Community Transit Center be located? If it is sited closer to business or residential areas, how would this attract traffic? If it is sited further away, how would this benefit commuters to and from those businesses and residences?
I think most of us know where it should not be located; near the most congested intersection in our community, 172nd and Smokey Point Boulevard. Even if the issues of added traffic congestion were addressed, there is still the issue of taking what should be developed with businesses to improve tax revenue, and paving half of it over with asphalt.
This is one of those cases where we really do need to look before we leap. The location of a transit center is pretty much a permanent decision. I would prefer to see a proposal for a transit center that was connected to the proposal for a four year college between Arlington and Marysville. The ability to put a transit center right next to the college campus should be another plus for placing the college at this site.
Of course we need a transit center. Of course it needs to be located where it is easy for commuters to access. But we need to remove the Smokey Point Boulevard and 172nd intersection area from the possible choices and get on with looking at other possibilities.

Graham Smith
1. If elected, what are your first priorities upon taking office?
Finalize development of the five-year public safety plan, including dedicated funding to support the plan. Address the growing traffic and public transportation needs in Arlington.
2. Which job qualifications or positions distinguish you most from your opponents?
Extensive experience leadership:
Arlington Airport Commission: Commissioner and chairperson.
Third-term City Council member, including:
Public Utilities chairperson.
Finance & Government Operations committee.
Public Works committee (parks, recreation and airport).
Current chairperson of the citys Public Safety Committee
Represent Arlington and North Snohomish County on the Board of Directors for Snohomish Community Transit.
Graduated and received Certificate for Municipal Leadership from Association of Washington Cities.
3. What concrete steps should be taken to reduce crime and ensure public safety?
Prioritize filling current police department vacancies and provide a minimum of four officers per shift, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Establish more neighborhood watch programs with dedicated staffing support. Reduce volume of required paperwork officers have to complete by implementing automated systems.
4. To what extent should gambling be legalized within city limits, if at all, and why? What consequences could occur as a result, and how might those be offset?
Gambling is and has been legal within the city of Arlington for several years. What we, the Council, need to ensure is the control of location through zoning of where and how much gambling is going to be allowed.
5. Where should the Community Transit Center be located? If its sited closer to business or residential areas, how would this affect traffic? If its sited further away, how would this benefit commuters to and from those businesses or residences?
I support 100 percent locating a Community Transit Hub center in Arlington. I recommend the location be decided by a panel made up with citizen, business, council and Community Transit representation.

Position 3

Barbara Tolbert
1. If elected, what are your first priorities upon taking office?
The City Council has established its top priorities for 2008 that include:
Economic development; keeping existing businesses and bring in more sales tax revenue.
Establish a five-year plan for public safety, including funding.
Transfer of Development Rights program to protect the farm land and future agricultural uses of the Stillaguamish Valley.
I am a passionate advocate of these priorities, having served on the city committee for economic development where we drafted a workable plan. We are seeing some of the results of that work in the Olympic Avenue project, and the city needs to carry that momentum forward.
We need to ensure that we have a revenue plan that will address our public safety needs which most certainly will grow as our community grows.
Arlington needs to work with Snohomish County to ensure the success of the Transfer of Development Rights program for the Stillaguamish Valley.
I am also concerned that transportation issues in the Smokey Point area are affecting the ability to promote commerce in the area. A strategic and workable transportation plan is a high priority, one that takes into account the development around us that has a direct impact on our roads.
2. Which job qualifications or positions most distinguish you most from your opponents?
Perhaps the biggest difference is that I not only live in Arlington, but I also run a business in Arlington. For the past 14 years I have served as the Executive Director of the Arlington Fly-In, the third largest recreation aviation event in the U.S. Managing more than 500 volunteers and staff positions, I have a proven record of leadership in the community.
As an active part of the Arlington community for more than 20 years I have a good understanding of our history, our culture and our concerns. I have volunteered my time in the community and have served on many local and county boards and committees.
3. What concrete steps should be taken to reduce crime and ensure public safety?
A high rate of crime is not just a police problem, its a community problem. Communities that have successfully reduced crime rates and increased public safety have done so with effective partnering between public safety officers, business leaders and community volunteers.
I would advocate for aggressive crime prevention programs. Our homes, businesses, vehicles and identities are targets of criminals. Teaching citizens the basics of crime prevention helps increase their safety.
Im a proponent of strong neighborhood watch programs. Implementation of programs similar to the Senior Volunteer Service Organization to provide services that our current level of police staffing cannot, such as vacation home watch and school zone watch.
Effective staffing levels, investment in technology to prevent and fight crime and partnering with the community are all keys to ensuring safe neighborhoods in Arlington. We need to be aware if our neighborhood or business district has become a hotspot for property crime so that we can take measures to avoid becoming a target for criminals.
4. To what extent should gambling be legalized within city limits, if at all, and why? What consequences could occur as a result, and how might those be offset?
I dont think we have enough information to approve the ordinance allowing mini-casinos in Smokey Point. Approval of the ordinance merely because it will generate revenue is, in my opinion, short sighted.
Non-housed banked card games, pull tabs, and other minor forms of gambling are currently legal in Arlington. In addition, the state runs lotteries through grocery and convenience store outlets. We are located between two large tribal casinos. Clearly, the opportunity for gambling in Arlington already exists.
Our City Council and Planning Commission have been looking at the very narrow issue of allowing house banked card rooms, or mini-casinos, within our city limits. Research from other jurisdictions which currently allow house banked card rooms shows that these establishments provide a large revenue source to their respective cities. In spite of this revenue source, the Planning Commission recently rejected the new ordinance proposal because of questions related to associated crime, physical location of the new mini-casinos, and their possible negative effect on the look and feel of Smokey Point.
5. Where should the Community Transit Center be located? If its sited closer to business or residential areas, how would this affect traffic? If its sited further away, how would this benefit commuters to and from those businesses or residences?
The current site picked by Community Transit for a new Transit Center in Smokey Point appears to have some major challenges. The area is already highly congested, and it is an important route for moving people and goods from Arlington to I-5. The location is part of an identified retail sales corridor in our economic development plan, so utilizing it for a park-n-ride would not only negate the sales tax revenue it could potentially generate, it would also remove the property from the tax roles and negate the property tax as well.
The proposal as submitted by CT would have a negative impact on traffic in the Smokey Point area. This area has been a bottleneck for traffic generated by the development around us. This holiday season the Lakewood Crossing shopping area has more than double the amount of stores it had last year. We not only need to work through methods of congestion relief due to existing development, but also how we will mitigate the impacts of future possibilities like Wal-Mart or a University of Washington branch campus.
While utilization of mass transit is certainly one tool in decreasing road congestion, locating the transit center slightly north near exit 208 would allow for better access to both the bus service and the commuters who need to park. If the Marysville site is chosen as the location of the UW Snohomish Branch Campus then CT should consider a site further south with access for students.

Scott Solla
1. If elected, what are your first priorities upon taking office?
If I am elected to retain my seat as Councilman, one of my first priorities will be to focus my attention on the Smokey Point area in regards to traffic, to crime, in economic development and to help bridge the disconnect between Smokey Point and old town Arlington.
In many of the neighborhoods, people do not feel safe in their own homes, their children do not have any options for safe recreation and there is a strong sense of no one cares about us down here from citizens and businesses alike.
Another priority will be to continue to build citizen awareness and participation in local government, by encouraging attendance at Council meetings, to step up into volunteer opportunities, to join the many service organizations, to encourage all to help build the Arlington we all want, by working together, putting our sweat, our backs, our minds and our financial resources, into each others neighborhoods and lives, building community and by being a part of the solution.
2. Which job qualifications or positions most distinguish you most from your opponents?
Out of all I have accomplished during my 33 years in the grocery business, the things I am most proud of, is not the big sales figures I attained, or the size of the stores I have managed, or the number of promotions I have received, they are the awards I have received for customer service, the people I have trained that have grown and become very successful business leaders in the industry, the customers who were my neighbors that I served, the team spirit and partnerships that were developed, the successes and sometimes failures, that bonded me together with the communities in which I worked. It was never about just me, it was the team that ultimately brought the successes. Being a Councilman can never be about just one person, it is all about functioning as a unit to accomplish a common goal.
To have the wisdom and sometimes humility to hear and listen to others, to respect their points of view and to support it if it is in the good of the community, is and should be the number one priority in any good civil servant.
3. What concrete steps should be taken to reduce crime and ensure public safety?
More public forums to hear directly from the citizens what and where the problems are and how they feel they need to be dealt with. To continually challenge ourselves to improve police coverage and community presence. To continue to challenge both the fire and police department leaders to think out of the box and find resources and develop strategies to improve efficiencies within each department. Lastly, to encourage public involvement in their own neighborhoods by taking an active roll and interest in their own neighborhoods, to watch out for each other and to not look the other way when someone is else is being victimized, but instead, make a difference, be a difference.
4. To what extent should gambling be legalized within city limits, if at all, and why? What consequences could occur as a result, and how might those be offset?
It is of my opinion that the current gambling ordinance is more than adequate to accommodate anyone who wishes to have some fun playing cards with their friends, however, to even consider expanding that ordinance to allow more serious forms of gaming, higher wagers and higher stakes, would be nothing less than a fools game. Counting on revenues supposedly generated from casinos and such, would be like a jiggly bowl of Jell-O looks good, may even taste good, but try and pick it up and it just squishes right through your fingers, not to mention it holds no nutritional value. Strong communities are built on strong values and good hard work, it builds character and community pride. Try and get that from a blackjack dealer!
5. Where should the Community Transit Center be located? If its sited closer to business or residential areas, how would this affect traffic? If its sited further away, how would this benefit commuters to and from those businesses or residences?
The Community Transit site should not be located at the proposed site that CT has identified. That location would just increase the havoc already being experienced in the Smokey Point and 172nd exchange area. Besides the traffic element, the property is much too valuable an asset to be wasted on a very limited retail proposal being offered up by CT. Instead that location is prime for a wide assortment of retail opportunities that would only add to the economic stability and growth for the Smokey Point area. The alternate sight proposed and supported by Smokey Point merchants and residents, further south of the proposed site, makes much more sense business wise and would not further tie up an already difficult area.

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