MLT City Council challengers band together for campaign

The My Neighborhood News Network will be preparing local voters for the Aug. 6 primary election and Nov. 5 general election with reports through the summer and full. Here is another of those reports.

Stephen Barnes
Stephen Barnes
Wanda Clarke-Morin
Wanda Clarke-Morin
Leonard French
Leonard French

For a challenger to defeat a sitting incumbent in any political race, it sometimes takes innovating thinking. Three challengers to current Mountlake Terrace City Councilmembers seeking re-election this fall are pursuing a team effort, meeting to discuss strategy, pooling some resources and working together on campaigning.

Stephen Barnes, Wanda Clarke-Morin, and Len French met last week at Voula’s restaurant in Mountlake Terrace to compare notes and share what each believes is important in the coming election.

Barnes is challenging Doug McCardle for City Council position 3, Clarke-Morin is taking Kyoko Matsumoto Wright for position 4, and French is seeking position 5 currently held by Bryan Wahl. The three council positions, plus posts held by Councilmember Rick Ryan and Mayor Jerry Smith, will be decided in the Nov. 5 general election. Ryan and Smith are running unopposed for their current seats.

Barnes, Clarke-Morin and French have labeled themselves the Terrace Loyal Opposition “because they are loyal to the citizens of Mountlake Terrace but in opposition to the heavy-handed style of the current council,” Barnes said.

Holding the current council accountable for their action to the citizens and requiring greater clarity and transparency for council representatives is important, the three challengers stated in a joint press release. Going forward in a tight economy for all of Terrace’s citizens and seeking affordable solutions strikes the right chord, they said.

Clark-Morin contends that each of the three challengers reflects a part of the Mountlake Terrace constituency: “the single parent, the working class citizen and the engaged senior.”

Barnes, Clarke-Morin and French plan on working in concert with each other on a number of their efforts to reach voters, such as doorbelling, fundraising, appearances at community events and a web presence. The three have already opened a Facebook page at and a twitter account at @BetterMLT, and hope to have a shared website up and running soon.

— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski

  1. Len French, do you agree with the opinion that Arbor Village is a blight to the community, as presented at (This web site links from the Facebook page referenced.) MLT News readers, when you drive past Arbor Village, do you see progress or do you see blight?

    1. Mr. Slupski:

      1. Blight would not be a correct term to apply to something new such as the Arbor Village project, would it?. Blight refers to decay, dilapidation. With today’s building codes we only see that in new projects when someone really screws up in the construction.

      2. The web page to which you linked suggests nothing remotely like a blighted community situation at Arbor Village or in any other project recently completed, underway, or being contemplated, either.

      What I took understood my perusal of that page is an implied objection by the three Council candidates to what is occurring in some areas of MLT: a rather stark transition from quiet one-story SFR residence neighborhoods to immediately adjacent 5-story mixed use buildings, and the busy traffic pattern that will result from them.

      If you are going to ask Mr. French’s opinion and reference his materials, at least please refrain from incorrect summaries of his materials in doing so. Although given the distortions of data by the City Council in their support for the thrice-failed Civic Center/City Hall proposal, I can certainly see where you got the idea to do it.

  2. Blight has several meanings; consult a dictionary. The web page has a rendering of the project with a circle and slash through it. It asks, “Do you want mid-rise shadows encroaching on your neighborhood? Have you seen how massive that new Arbor Village development is up close?” The question remains for Len and others and it is an honest question – Len, do you believe Arbor Village is a net plus or a net minus for the community? Do you believe projects like this should be encouraged and facilitated by City Council, or opposed and prohibited? What do you yourself think, Bob?

    1. Yeah, what you mean when you use the term must be the same thing NPR meant when they referred to urban blight in Detroit.

      Detroit Struggles to Overcome Urban Blight

      Detroit’s efforts to rid itself of dilapidated homes and buildings…

      I myself think, since you asked, that Arbor Village is a nice example of a private entity willing to invest in a community even without a guarantee of a way-too-expensive City Hall and Civic Center. Over time other similarly large private entities will be developed in the downtown area and will bring in new revenues that will aid in the financial health of the community. Things might start looking up enough that certain commercial property owners in the MLT core might even think to give their building a much-needed exterior facelift, I suppose.

      I think it’s reasonable that the taller buildings will pretty much be in one fairly thin strip of town. Someone who lives a half mile east or west won’t have much of an issue, especially if we’re going to be putting in new north-south corridors like the street in the design phase that will be sited just east of the freeway, which will help people avoid 56th if they so wish. For someone two blocks away, well, I can understand how someone living that close might not be so happy about the new developments in the Town Center area.

      My guess is that if Mr. French were to be elected to Council he won’t get much of what he wants. But at least the Council vote to do a dumb thing three times in a row wouldn’t be unanimous. It’s a start.

  3. Vince, so are you accepting that the word “blight” was your inference and not someone else’s actual statement? Is your question now instead my opinion of the Arbor Village and similar project?

  4. Blight, definition 3 from something that impairs or destroys. Usage example: the expanding urban sprawl is a blight on the countryside. Truly this is one of the dullest online conversations in which I’ve ever engaged, arguing over the meaning of this word. I paraphrased, I think correctly, the meaning I took from the web page. But if anyone disagrees with my paraphrase, I’ve quoted verbatim from the web page. I think it’s crystal clear that the author believes Arbor Village detracts from, is a minus for, MLT. We could say it a dozen different ways, but the bottom line is, he doesn’t like it. A rendering of the project with a circle and slash through it is unmistakable, the international sign for NO.

    So Len, do you share the negative opinion of Arbor Village and possible future projects like it? I ask because it was reported that three of you are cooperating in the campaign, the Facebook page was reported to be a joint page, and the website links directly from the Facebook page.

  5. I would bet that the other 11 ways would be more accurate, not to mention more fair to Mr. French, than the term ‘blight’.

    First Rule of Holes, Mr. Slupski.

  6. Vince:

    To clarify, I am not on Facebook, but I am corresponding with the other two candidates – cooperating is fair. To clarify; A negative opinion of taller buildings in what is now called the Town Center is not in any manner equivalent to blight, the inflammatory term you introduced to this dull conversation. You paraphrased incorrectly and should admit it.

    Let’s expand the context. As Mr. Smith alluded to, someone, like me for instance, can easily believe that development in their city is a positive when it is many neighborhoods away and thus something of an abstraction in their everyday world. When its looming much more closely it may not be perceived so positively. Someone, like me for instance, can also defend every neighborhood’s prerogatives to defend themselves through the public process from such intrusions while expecting the public process, in all its manifestations, to be conducted in a manner fair to all those involved. In MLT, its not; that’s why I’m running for council again.

    I presume you find economic development and the corresponding growth a positive in our region generally and in the city of Seattle in particular. Nonetheless, as we both remember you took serious issue with the expansion of Northgate because of the impacts you perceived to be negatives to the neighborhood in which you live. So, Vince, liven up this dull interchange. Share with us what were your perceptions of big new intrusions to your neighborhood? Did you have a negative opinion of the Northgate expansion and “possible future projects like it?” Do you still?

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