Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember Laura Sonmore is running unopposed for reelection to the council’s position 6 seat. Sonmore was first elected to the council in 2000. She is the longest-tenured councilmember. The general election is Nov. 7.
Q: Why are you running for Mountlake Terrace City Council? What do you hope to accomplish?
I am seeking reelection for city council because as a life-long member of this community, I am deeply connected to it. This dedication of service has given me a strong understanding of our local values and the challenges we face. My decision to run for city council stems from my deep love for our city, my desire to make a positive impact and my belief in the power of effective and inclusive leadership. I am dedicated to working tirelessly on behalf of all residents to create a city that is prosperous, sustainable and welcoming to all.
Q: What experiences would you bring to the council and how are they relevant to the position?
I bring a diverse range of experiences and background to the city council that are highly relevant. I have served on the city council for many years and have served on a number of community boards and groups. Because of this, I understand the importance of listening to our community’s needs and acting upon them. This experience has given me a firsthand look into the challenges our residents face and the solutions that can make a difference.
I graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School and having lived in this community for most of my life, I have a deep personal connection to its people and its future. I have experienced the changes and am invested in ensuring our city thrives.
These experiences have not only equipped me with the necessary skills but have also instilled in me a deep commitment to public service. My background aligns well with the responsibilities of a city councilmember as I have shown during my tenure as an elected city councilmember, and I am dedicated to working diligently to represent the interests of all our residents.
– Elected experience: Mountlake Terrace City Council 2000 to present
-Other professional experience: Employed at the Boeing Company; AWC’s Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership; Fire Planning Committee; Past President of Snohomish County Cities and Towns; Past member Board of Directors SNOCOM 911
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Law and Justice, Central Washington University; ATA, paralegal, Edmonds Community College
-Community Service: LEOFF 1 Board; Recreation and Park Advisory Commission liaison; past student body president at Edmonds Community College; distinguished alumni award recipient, Who’s Who recipient; graduate of Mountlake Terrace Citizen Police Academy; successful partnering with federal and state legislative delegations to obtain funding for roads, sidewalks, trails and park improvements.
Q: What is your vision for Mountlake Terrace?
I am deeply committed to being a strong advocate for our community. I believe that every resident deserves a voice and the opportunity to have their concerns and ideas heard. As a city councilmember, I will continue to actively engage with residents, community organizations and local businesses to understand their needs, aspirations and challenges. I will work to represent the diverse interests of our community and ensure that our city’s decisions reflect the best interests of all residents.
I am dedicated to promoting sustainable growth and development that preserves the unique character of our city. It is essential to strike a balance between economic progress and environmental sustainability. I will advocate for responsible development practices that prioritize the preservation of green spaces, promote renewable energy initiatives and support local businesses. By fostering a sustainable and vibrant community, we can create a city that future generations will be proud to call home.
I strongly believe in transparency and accountability in local government. I will work to ensure that decision-making processes are transparent and accessible to all residents. I will actively seek input from the community and by fostering an open and inclusive dialogue, we can build trust and engage residents in the decision-making process.
Access to quality public services is essential for a thriving community. I will continue to prioritize the enhancement of public services such as public safety, parks, recreation, transportation and community events.
Building a strong and cohesive community requires collaboration and unity. I am committed to working collaboratively with fellow city councilmembers, community leaders, stakeholders and most importantly residents to achieve common goals. I will foster a spirit of cooperation and seek consensus-based solutions to address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Q: In your opinion, what is Mountlake Terrace’s most pressing issue and what are your solutions for addressing it?
There are a number of pressing issues; housing affordability, transportation, environmental protection, economic development and public safety and crime.
Many cities to include ours are facing housing affordability challenges. We must recognize this is a regional and statewide issue, thus we must engage on regional and statewide solutions to encourage investment in new housing to include affordable housing while also protecting our existing neighborhoods.
Growing populations such as what is currently happening in the Puget Sound region is straining our regional and local transportation systems. From a regional perspective, we need to continue to invest in public transportation such as Sound Transit and within Mountlake Terrace, we need to improve our road conditions and infrastructure that promotes pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly neighborhoods.
As a city known for its parks, open spaces, and environmentally sensitive areas, we must continue to ensure we protect and preserve these pristine areas.
Economic development is about creating jobs and opportunities for our residents. We must continue to ensure we have the right incentives in place to attract development and new businesses while at the same time ensuring our existing businesses get the support they need to grow and expand. And new development and investment must be in accordance with our community’s standards and we must take the time to listen to our residents.
The public safety, health and welfare of our residents and community is a paramount duty of the city. We must continue to adapt to new legislation coupled with addressing the crime in our community through the use of technology, community policing efforts, crime prevention programs and ensure first responders have the resources they need.
Q: How do you plan to encourage residents to become more civically engaged?
As a life-long resident of Mountlake Terrace and having served on the city council for many years, I have long recognized that civic engagement is so important. We must recognize that our city government is here to serve our residents and the community as a whole. Some ideas I have include hosting town hall meetings where residents can voice concerns and get answers directly from their city council; the use of technology platforms for virtual forums to increase accessibility; use our community events to communicate the importance of civic engagement; employ social media campaigns to reach a broader audience to include younger generations; partner with our schools and colleges to develop programs that encourage young people to participate in our local civic activities; recognize and celebrate community members who are making a difference through civic engagement; and establish easy ways for residents to give feedback on local issues, such as online polls and surveys. We need to do more to show residents that their feedback is valued and acted upon, which can motivate more to participate.
Q: How do you plan to prepare Mountlake Terrace for the anticipated population growth with the arrival of Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link light rail?
This needs to be done carefully and deliberately since we only have one opportunity to get this right. We need to ensure balance between what is anticipated to occur and to ensure our community is not negatively impacted.
We need to recognize that planning for this anticipated growth is not a one-time activity. As the new Sound Transit system becomes operational and the population in our region grows, there will likely be unforeseen challenges. Regular reviews and adjustments can help address these challenges proactively. Examples include our need to stay out ahead of addressing parking solutions given it is likely that some commuters who drive to the transit station but take the train for the main part of their journey may end up parking in our residential neighborhoods. We also need to ensure that the areas around our transit station are well-lit and patrolled, promoting a sense of safety and deterring crime.
With more people and development, there might be increased stress on local ecosystems meaning we will want to be proactive in undertaking environmental impact assessments to help ensure sustainable growth. The increased number of commuters coming to our community may create potential traffic bottlenecks. We will want to be proactive here as well to ensure this increased activity doesn’t lead to paralyzing traffic congestion in our community.
We have been successful to date in creating some transit-oriented development (TOD), thus we should continue to encourage this type of development, given this kind of development can accommodate more residents without significantly increasing road traffic. It also promotes walkability and the use of public transit.
We also need to be proactive in infrastructure upgrades, such as roads, sewage, water and public green spaces to support the increased population. This can also involve improving pedestrian and bicycle paths to encourage alternative modes of transportation. And green spaces can serve as gathering spots, improve mental well-being, and help counteract the urban heat island effect that often accompanies increased development and density.
This is also an opportunity to ensure that there are adequate housing options available for all income levels. This can be achieved through incentives for developers to build affordable units and land-use zoning that requires a percentage of new developments to be set aside for affordable housing.
Q: How will you work to promote equity both within city government and for Mountlake Terrace residents?
We have established a diversity equity and inclusion commission to assist us in promoting and upholding the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion within city government and the community. There are a number of ways to promote equity within city government. We should conduct equity assessments of city programs and services to identify and rectify any disparities. This will help ensure that city resources are allocated in a manner that meets the diverse needs of all residents. We need to make a concerted effort to ensure that city government staff, leadership, and decision-making bodies reflect the diversity of the community.
This can be achieved by implementing inclusive hiring practices, offering training and establishing mentorship programs. We need to engage with community members, particularly those from marginalized or underrepresented groups, to gain insight into their unique needs and perspectives. This can be achieved through town halls. We need to provide regular training for city staff on diversity, equity, inclusion and unconscious bias. This can help foster a culture of inclusivity within city government. We need to ensure that all residents, including those with disabilities and non-English speakers, have equal access to city services. This could involve providing translation services, making buildings and websites more accessible.
Q: Are Mountlake Terrace’s current levels of staffing for its police department adequate? If so, expand on your thoughts and – if not – how might the city pay for additional policing?
Having served as a city councilmember for many years, I am very proud of our police officers and the work they do every day to protect all of us. I do believe the current levels of staffing are adequate. If the city council has a desire to evaluate police department staffing, it is important that a needs assessment be undertaken to determine if current staffing levels are adequate. This would include comparing the city’s crime rates with cities of similar size and demographics. If the crime rate is high or increasing, it might be an indicator that more police presence is needed.
Likewise, a review of response times as compared to the national or state average might indicate a need for more officers. It is also imperative to engage the community to get a sense of their perception of safety and their experiences with the police department. This would also include obtaining resident feedback on how the city’s revenue is allocated given an increase in police department staffing may result in a reduction of services elsewhere.
Q: What are the most pressing environmental issues the city currently faces and your proposals to address those?
I am and always have been a strong proponent of protecting and preserving our environment. It is even more important today with the significant economic pursuits in our region that dominate the landscape. Because of this, I find myself drawn even more ardently towards the cause of protecting and preserving our environment. This includes protecting our parks, our open spaces, our creeks, our trails and Lake Ballinger as well as protecting and preserving our trees. It means finding balance between protecting our environment and growth. I believe in leaving a better world for our children and grandchildren. What we do today will shape their tomorrow. We have the chance today to make a positive difference. It’s a collective effort, and every action, no matter how small, counts.
Q: Where can people contact you to learn more about your campaign?