Candidates speak to seniors at forum
August 27, 2008 · Updated 5:39 PM
ARLINGTON Candidates for the Snohomish County Executive, County Clerk and Sheriff joined candidates for the Arlington City Council in presenting themselves to the community at the Olympic Place Retirement Communitys first candidates forum Aug. 8.
Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon led off by reviewing his two terms in office, starting with the elimination of the countys previous $13 million budget deficit without raising taxes.
At the same time, weve funded senior centers and added 30 new sheriffs deputies, even though 21 of those positions are still unfilled, Reardon said. Weve also gotten ingredients for making meth off the shelves and funded veterans services.
Reardon acknowledged that the countys growth in traffic needs to be met with developing infrastructure, but characterized the countys economy as strong.
Were creating jobs, Reardon said.
Reardons Republican opponent, Jack Turk, differed with Reardons view by describing Snohomish County as becoming a bedroom community for King County.
Turk cited public safety and transportation as his other main concerns, before citing his own work history at Microsoft.
As one of their writers and project managers, I had to be a leader, Turk said. I resolved conflicts and clearly identified solutions by asking, What problems are we trying to solve?
Turk also expressed an interest in offering tax relief to homeowners, while asserting that the issue of housing growth as one that doesnt need to divide environmentalists and developers.
Rob Beidler was the first of the two Snohomish County Sheriffs candidates to take to the podium, and he touted his hands-on experience in dealing with crime, from implementing block watches and organizing seniors against crime to training and supervising law enforcement agents.
I am a crime-fighter, Beidler said. I put criminals in jail. Ive run every unit from SWAT to K-9, I teach at Everett Community College and Im a virtual mentor at Western Washington University.
Beidler also emphasized his centrist politics.
I am as close to the middle as you can find, said Beidler, who pointed to the support hes received from police in Arlington, Marysville, Everett and Snohomish. Nobody wants a partisan, because we should be fighting for everyone equally.
While Beidler has worked 15 years in law enforcement, his opponent Tom Greene has worked 35 years in law enforcement, and to Greene, those extra years make a difference.
Like you, I have life experience, Greene told the seniors in attendance. These gray hairs stand for something. Im the only candidate for sheriff whos crafted a budget for the council. Ive written policy on police pursuit and use of force, and Ive bargained with labor.
Greene noted that, unlike Beidler, hes also served as a detective, and hes logged 2,500 hours of training.
I want our communities to be safe places to work, play, learn and visit, Greene said. If Im elected, I wont need to learn how to do this job.
Kelly Wright spoke for Snohomish County Clerk candidate Bob Dantini, who was unable to attend, by summarizing his career as county treasurer as a period of reform.
The morale in the county clerks office is low, Wright said. Bob Dantini has experience in turning things around with a fresh approach. He was elected as a Democrat, and hes proud to call himself such.
Fellow county clerk candidate Sonya Kraski was also unable to attend, so Kathleen Gunn spoke on her behalf, praising her 22 years of service in the clerks office.
Shes worked her way through the ranks, in every position in that office, Gunn said. She has hands-on experience at all levels. Shes truly non-partisan, but she has received the endorsements of the Democratic party of Snohomish County and seven retired superior court judges. She believes the role of the courts is critical to democracy. Shes passionate about the system and serving the people, which is why shes chosen to make her career here.
Gunn added that Kraski believes in supporting the merchants of Olympic Avenue.
Ron Ledford, the third Snohomish County Clerk candidate, presented himself as a man who wanted to give back to the community.
I was raised by my grandparents to believe in God, my country and my family, Ledford said. As a Marine, I carried an M-16 so that other people could be free to call themselves whatever they wanted. I want to serve people.
Ledford reiterated his support of felon collections to help them repay their debts to society, as well as his love of his career in the county court system.
Im passionate about it, Ledford said. I look forward to going to work every morning. If I dont get elected, Ill respect your decision, and Ill still help you across the street.
Arlington City Council incumbent Scott Solla reviewed the experiences that had led to his appointment to the council, from moving to the city more than two years ago to serving on the councils planning commission, before sharing his feelings about the town thats now his home.
I want this to stay a place that my grandchildren could visit, Solla said. As it grows, I dont want it to lose its heritage. Im not a politician, Im a working man, and while I dont have a lot of credentials, I do whats in my heart.
City Council candidate Barb Tolbert compared her 14 years of coordinating the annual Northwest Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In at the Arlington Airport to the challenges of running a city, as she listed the ways in which her job requires her to anticipate the needs of infrastructure, emergency services and transportation.
In 20 years, theres going to be twice as many people here, Tolbert said. We cant be caught by surprise.
Tolbert voiced her support for the transfer of development rights, as one means of planning for growth, while naming education and elderly services as high priorities for her.
Ironically, fellow council candidate Virginia Hatch explained that she was running because she believes the council has been doing several things right.
I wouldnt run if I didnt think I could make a difference, Hatch said. Im not into beating my head against a wall. The current administration knows that things need to change.
Hatch listed her goals as helping to bring down the crime rate, foster a strong economic base, and control growth, although she acknowledged the progress that the current council has already made.
We werent prepared at all for a long time, Hatch said. I want to maintain the feel of Arlington. I like getting people organized, so that they can come together to work together, because we cant any of us do it by ourselves. As the co-chair of the Centennial celebration, I saw how we can use each others strengths.
Council incumbent Graham Smith cited his service on the public utilities committee, the public finance committee and the public safety committee, as well as in representing Arlington with Community Transit. He identified a five-year public safety plan, upgraded ridership and increased transportation services as his concerns.
Fellow council member Dick Butner is running unopposed, but he still attended the forum, commending the council for its non-partisan nature. Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson is likewise unchallenged, but she also spoke to the forum, reiterating her focus on quality-of-life issues.
Besides, Im just glad for the excuse to see my friends, Larson said. I remember cutting the ribbon here.