Letters to the Editor

Is it politics again?

I attended an Olympic Rental Association meeting on Saturday, Dec. 8, in Everett, Wash. The Keynote Speaker was Dan Kristiansen, State Representative for District 39. One of the questions he was asked was what he thought about a branch campus of the University of Washington being built in Everett. His response to this question flabbergasted me. He said he could not support this effort.
In the first part of his presentation he had explained to the audience that he was a republican and had been advised by some other legislators in Olympia that he should change his affiliation but he felt that this would compromise his beliefs. He stated that other politicians gave into the politics of running the state but he never gave in like the others that he has stood firm on his principles. This certainly sat well with his audience.
Rep. Kristiansen went on to explain that the reason for not supporting the branch campus in Everett or Snohomish County was because the Evergreen State College near Olympia, in Thurston County and Cascadia Community College in Bothell in King County are low in census and the state has not funded money for needed repairs. Being that he characterizes himself an astute businessman he could not justify this effort or expenditure on the project. He confided that the legislatures sponsoring and supporting this effort are only doing so to get their names on a plaque.
Now Id like to explain why I believe Rep. Kristiansens reasoning is flawed. First, back in the late 1960s, when a new state college was being considered, Snohomish County vied for the chosen spot. Unfortunately, Thurston County won and Evergreen State College was built in 1971. I believe politics played a major role. And, unfortunately, the state college that prevailed has not been a star performer by any measure. Next, a very strong and long-time senator from Bothell, Rosemary McAuliffe, lobbied for a community college in Bothell in the 1990s and Cascadia opened its doors in 2000. It, too, has not been a strong performer and is located in an out-of-the-way, hard-to-get-to location, off of I-405. Again, politics played a primary role I believe.
I am very sorry that these two institutions of learning have been such a disappointment but it is and has been Snohomish County that has been in need of a four-year college/university.
Snohomish County has the largest population in the whole United States without a four-year institution.
It needs more people with college degrees to fill its highly skilled employment needs Boeing, Providence Hospital, biotechs, farming, building, manufacturing are prime examples. The area is growing rapidly, while other areas are leveling off or have leveled off. The University of Washington in Seattle is too far away for students to go from Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties, particularly with the traffic problems many of them are currently facing.
However, I hope that if a branch campus is built in Snohomish County that it is not built in Everett. It should instead be built farther north in the Marysville/Arlington area where it would have easy access to the I-5 corridor and there is enough space for expansion. This way Skagit and Island counties will be served as well now and in the future. The four-year school supposedly was to serve all three counties, although currently Snohomish County has the greatest need. But with todays growth pattern, in the not too distant future, it may be Skagit and Island counties crying out for a college or university if the branch campus is built in Everett. We must plan well into the future, rather then for our immediate need.
Therefore, I believe that if the new branch campus is built in Everett, its politics again.
Virginia Frost De Bord

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