While others pass on fundraising, MLT City Council candidate Wahl reaping windfall

MLT Councilmember Bryan Wahl, in sunglasses, at 2013 Tour de Terrace parade. Former councilmember and state representative Al O'Brien is seated to Wahl's right
MLT Councilmember Bryan Wahl, in sunglasses, at 2013 Tour de Terrace parade. Former councilmember and state representative Al O’Brien is seated to Wahl’s right

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 fall. Here is another of those reports.

Primary election day is Tuesday, with all primary ballots required to be in an election dropbox or have a postmark and in the mail by Aug. 6. There are no Mountlake Terrace City Council positions being contested on the primary ballot; voters won’t get a say on city posts until the general election in November. But that hasn’t stopped one city council candidate from getting a big jump on the field when it comes to campaign fundraising.

Councilmember Bryan Wahl was appointed to Position 5 last year and is running to complete the current term that lasts until December 2015. He has reportedly raised $4,100 in campaign contributions — the only one of the eight candidates running for a city council seat who has raised any money this year.

“I need to introduce myself to Mountlake Terrace voters and give them every opportunity to get to know me and my priorities,” Wahl explained.

Wahl was sworn in to Council Position 5 in September 2012, filling a vacancy created when former Councilmember Michelle Robles resigned. The appointment lasts until results from the November’s general election ballot is certified; Wahl had made it known at the time of his appointment that he would run this fall for election to the seat.

“I am honored to have been appointed to serve on the City Council for the past year,” Wahl said. “I have a strong understanding and appreciation for public policy and the local legislative process and experience researching and analyzing issues and policies. My knowledge of the issues and ability to balance needs amongst varying interests has been, and will be, exceptionally useful in developing a consensus on important issues facing Mountlake Terrace.”

Although Wahl is only a freshman on the city council, he has been involved in city planning, land and code policy for some time. He served for 14 years on the Mountlake Terrace Planning Commission prior to his council position appointment.

Even with all that experience in city government, Wahl is making a big campaign push to retain his current council seat. He appeared in the July 26 Tour de Terrace parade with former councilmember and state representative Al O’Brien and has already begun spending his amassed campaign funds.

“So far we have developed our campaign website, purchased campaign yard signs, t-shirts for volunteers — as seen during the parade — and literature for distribution,” Wahl stated. “We hope to have sufficient funding for the campaign in order to continue to reach out to voters through a variety of activities in order to provide them with sufficient information to make an informed decision for whom to vote.”

MLT Council candidate Leonard French
MLT Council candidate Leonard French

Wahl’s opponent on the November ballot, Leonard French, has no plans to match Wahl’s fundraising efforts.

“In the recent past, many other candidates for contested seats besides Bryan Wahl have raised sizable amounts of money — perhaps not as much as Bryan has, but nonetheless more than is necessary to run the type of campaign I believe appropriate,” French said. “Money raising and spending shouldn’t be a central feature of a campaign for a council seat in a small town like ours, particularly when so many are of modest means.”

“Like the last time I ran, I am more interested in soliciting votes than money,” French added.

French gathered almost 40 percent of the vote in an unsuccessful attempt to unseat current city councilmember Laura Sonmore in 2007.

Like his opponent, French used the Tour de Terrace parade as an opportunity to do some campaigning before potential voters. “I was walking, along with numerous helpers, with my parade entry,” he explained. “I was walking and talking, shaking hands and trying to connect directly with folks at their level, which I though all went well. I had a great time.”

“I passed out 60 buttons and made contact with numerous other folks who asked me about my thoughts and my campaign email address,” French said.

French is sharing a website with fellow council seat challengers Stephen Barnes and Wanda Clarke-Morin at www.bettermlt.com; Wahl has established a web presence at www.WahlforCityCouncil.com.

The race between Wahl and French will appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, expected to be mailed to voters on Oct. 17. The top vote-getter will fill the City Council Position 5 seat when the vote is certified later in November.

The other Mountlake Terrace City Council positions that will appear on the November general ballot will be Position 1 (incumbent Rick Ryan running unopposed), Position 2 (incumbent Jerry Smith running unopposed), Position 3 (incumbent Doug McCardle being challenged by Barnes), and Position 4 (incumbent Kyoko Matsumoto Wright being challenged by Clarke-Morin). The winners of these races begin their council terms on Jan. 1, 2014.

— By Doug Petrowski

  1. Stephen Barnes and Wanda Clarke-Morin (and their website) are given full-name treatment two paragraphs prior to where you are referring to in the article.

  2. It is journalistic practice that after you have mentioned a person by first and last name once in an article, subsequent references are by the person’s last name only.

  3. Thanks for the mention in your article about campaign funding. One of the points I made in the response you solicited for this story which you did not include is just as important as all of what you did. Voters should be not only interested in what will likely be Mr. Wahl’s record setting fundraising effort, but also the source of those funds. To give this campaign finance story the context it deserves, MLTNEWS.COM should include that information which is available at the State PDC website.

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