Diverse field of candidates vying for appointment to open Mountlake Terrace City Council seat

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    Candidates with a wide range of life experiences and professional backgrounds — some long-time residents and others newcomers — have filed for appointment to the Position 2 Mountlake Terrace City Council seat left vacant by the death of long-time Mayor Jerry Smith in December.

    A total of 12 candidates initially applied, but one has since withdrawn. The Mountlake Terrace City Council will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 to interview all of the candidates and appoint a replacement.

    One of those applying is Smith’s wife, Judi, who said in her application she would like to “at least” serve out the remainder of her late husband’s term. “One might say, he was a starter and had vision and I am a finisher,” Judi Smith said.

    Here’s a brief summary on the background of all the applicants. We’ve also included each applicant’s response to the question: What do you think is the most important issue facing the city and why, and how they would address it. (Some of the responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.)

    Stephen Barnes, a 30-year Mountlake Terrace resident, is a King County Metro bus driver. Barnes, who has run three previous times for Mountlake Terrace City Council, describes himself as a citizen activist. He has served as a volunteer for several groups, including on the City Hall Advisory Committee.

    The most important issue facing the city: “Currently, the reinvention of our downtown space in a manner which honors our past but accepts the realities of the future (e.g.
    light rail) is our most pressing need. Input from citizenry combined with the mutual vision of the whole Council will yield an agreeable platform for future growth, maintaining our hometown feel.”

    Crystal Gamon, a property manager at Wright Runstad & Company, has lived in Mountlake Terrace for six years and says she feels the council could use “a younger, different perspective.” She has served on the Terrace Park K-8 Elementary PTA and the Mountlake Terrace High School Sports Booster Club boards. Coming from a commercial real estate background, “I am able to not only have the boots on the ground experience but the business mindset to understand the greater good for the city overall,” she said.

    The most important issue facing the city: “MLT has been a bit of a time capsule and the growth of the Greater Seattle Area is upon us. We need to grow, for the vitality of the City and the people of MLT, but in a smart and controlled manner. There are several people on both ends of the spectrum in regards to this growth, and I believe that a happy medium is attainable through open conversations.”

    Alvaro Guillen, a 13-year-resident, works for Sound Publishing in Everett. He has been a member of United Way of Snohomish County’s CORE Engagement Committee and a board member of the National Association of Hispanic Publications. “As an Latino immigrant, I understand the needs, strengths and struggles of our immigrant communities and believe that I’m well positioned to reach and engage immigrants and encourage them to actively participate, get involved and contribute to our city’s growth and development,” he said.

    The most important issue facing the city: “Growth is the most important issue facing the city. I see how the city is growing and will grow over the next 10-20 years, especially with the future light rail. The creation of effective zoning, construction codes, rules and management plans will help us through the growth process in a way that is healthy, respectful of our environment and holistic for all of our citizens.”

    Issac Harrison, a two-and-a-half-year resident, is a library associate at the Mountlake Terrace Library. He has worked on several community programs for the Sno-Isle Library System, and is also a member of the Mountlake Terrace Library Safety Committee.

    The most important issue facing the city: “Housing and rental costs. I have noticed this concern speaking with the public, coworkers and friends in the area. The entry barriers to home ownership and rising costs of rents are making it more and more difficult for millennial aged working adults to gain access to housing. I would like to see research on allowing multifamily units (townhomes, duplexes, triplexes) within the city to bring down costs.”

    Michael D. Juzwik, a retired painting contractor who also served as a U.S. Navy aircraft. mechanic, has lived in Mountlake Terrace for 10 years. He said he would bring to the council “consensus building” skills developed in his work with the Republican Party.

    The most important issue facing the city: “Helping end the tragic heroin epidemic and homeless population. Stop child sex trafficking.”

    Erin Murray, a 10-year resident, works as human resources manager at Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She has served on the Yes for MLT Committee working toward passage of the Civic Center bond measure, has been a volunteer with Job’s Daughters, and sat on an Edmonds School District committee examining future enrollment scenarios.

    The most important issue facing the city: “I believe the most important issue facing the city is lack of civic engagement. One of the reasons Mountlake Terrace is such a wonderful place to live is because of the time and care that members of the community have given. When I look at who is most active and engaged, the group is much older than Mountlake Terrace as a whole. If we don’t find ways to bring younger volunteers into civic engagement then these programs start to go away, as was the danger last year with the MLT Garden Club. I would approach addressing the issue initially by learning more. Through conversations with various community members multiple reasons have surfaced. Examples include: not feeling knowledgeable enough to contribute, perceived lack of expertise or experience, and barriers like transportation or childcare; they don’t know how their presence adds value.”

    James “Dale” Newman, a 38-year resident, is the founder of Industrial Massage, LLC. A Mountlake Terrace High School graduate, Newman has been a long-time Tour de Terrace volunteer and served on the board of directors for Nile Shriners, as vice chair for Economic Alliance Snohomish County, on the executive board fo Campfire Snohomish County and as co-founder of Snohomish County Young Professionals.

    The most important issue facing the city: “Deciding what we want to be known for. Mountlake Terrace has an identity crisis. We need to decide where we want to go, then we can make a road map on how to get there.”

    Theresa Rivkin, a six-year resident, is executive assistant to the director of investor relations for Triad Development. In the past, she has served on the Mountlake Terrace Community Policing Board and she also volunteers for Holly House.

    The most important issue facing the city: “Development. We need to allow for growth without creating a concrete jungle or adding to the traffic woes we now see due to Lynnwood’s growth. I would like to see funding of more traffic studies and actual implementation of improvements they suggest. I support height limits of new buildings outside the three ‘downtown’ zones and would like to study the viability of encouraging renovations of our ‘classic’ cinder block homes rather than tear down and replacements.”

    Judi Smith, who has lived in Mountlake Terrace for 50 years, pointed to her volunteer work with the Mountlake Terrace Youth Athletic Association, Tour de Terrace and Christmas Tree Lighting as an example of her long community involvement.

    The most important issue facing the city: “Our downtown rebuilding. We pretty much have a clean slate and can make our city so special and different. We already know everyone wants to live here so we just need to produce the vision the council has developed.”

    Eric Valpey, who has lived in the city for 10 years, works at Premera Blue Cross. He’s active in a range of community activities, including on the board of directors for the Bleeding Disorder Foundation of Washington, serving as a math tutor, a precinct committee officer, and a youth conference coordinator with the Unitarian Universalist Church Association.

    The most important issue facing the city: “I believe how we handle the changes which come with light rail and a new town center will make or break this community. I believe in proactively embracing development, density, and transit while keeping an elevated level of attention on how any policy change or proposal can be expected to affect the folks in our community with the least amount of power or ability to adapt.”

    Steve Woodard, a 15-year resident, is a student services dean of students at Edmonds Community College. He served on the Mountlake Terrace Library Board from 2014-16, and  currently is on the city’s Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission as well as on the board for the Teachers of Color Foundation.

    The most important issue facing the city: “Our growth. From the creation of a Super Block (SB), across to the opening of Light Rail, our city will experience an expansion similar to the one it faced at its creation. Highlighting all the ways residents can be and remain involved in the growth process is my approach. Being clear that sacrifice will play a role is my additional strategy. In this instance, my family lives inside the SB.”

    The council appointment will run until the November 2019 election is certified. The person appointed Feb. 9 will need to stand for election in November 2019 to continue to serve for the remainder of Smith’s four-year term — through Dec. 31, 2021.

    — By Teresa Wippel

     

     

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