Ryan, a Democrat, has lined up a stellar endorsement list, knocked on thousands of doors and amassed a nearly $60,000 war chest.
The former Mill Creek mayor and city councilman said he's excited for the chance to re-enter public service. To do that, he's willing to give up a successful career in commercial real estate with Seattle firm Kidder Mathews.
"I'm a local guy," Ryan said. "This is not a stepping stone for me to move up to Olympia or to Congress."
The campaign of Ryan's Republican opponent, Robert Reedy of Mountlake Terrace, is easy to miss. He's raised no money. As of last week, he had no functioning campaign website.
"I have certain plans and they'll become obvious very soon," Reedy said last week.
Reedy has plenty of electoral ground to make up. In the August primary, he took under 32 percent of the vote, to Ryan's nearly 68 percent.
Ballots for the Nov. 5 general election are scheduled to be mailed Thursday.
The candidates are competing for a County Council district that includes Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Brier and north Bothell, as well as unincorporated areas such as Alderwood Manor and Silver Firs.
Democrat Dave Gossett has represented the district for three straight terms and is prevented by the county charter from seeking a fourth.
Ryan, 56, entered the race with a long track record in public office. He joined the Mill Creek City Council in 1995 and was appointed by his peers to four two-year terms as mayor.
At the city, Ryan developed a reputation as a budget hawk, a stance he promised to continue if elected to county government.
"I'm leery of raising taxes unless you can show there's a need," he said.
He played a key role in several Mill Creek civic projects, including the Mill Creek Sports Complex, Mill Creek Town Center and the city fire station. He helped attract businesses to Mill Creek, including Lowe's home improvement store, the University of Washington Book Store and medical providers.
By representing Mill Creek on the Snohomish County Tomorrow Steering Committee, Ryan said he became acquainted with Snohomish County's growth issues, and how they affect cities.
Ryan stepped down from his city council seat in September 2012 because of his hectic work schedule.
Since announcing his candidacy for the County Council in January, Ryan has made frequent trips to public meetings to understand issues such as the proposed 2014 county budget, safety and health issues at the county jail and building a new courthouse.
Public safety has been a top concern Ryan's heard while talking to people door-to-door. A man in an unincorporated neighborhood near Bothell told the candidate about calling 911 after his house was burglarized. The dispatcher told him to wait for a deputy to arrive before going inside his house. The man waited -- for more than an hour.
"That's not acceptable," Ryan said. "We have to have better staffing levels."
As for the new courthouse proposal, Ryan wants to know more about why the estimated cost jumped from $75 million, early this year, to as much as $130 million now. He supports a quality building, but isn't yet prepared to say how the county should pay for it.
"The bill grew so substantially," he said. "I want more information on it."
Outside of work and politics, Ryan has been an active youth athletic coach. He coached teams for his three sons and his daughter. Last year, he accepted a job as head girls' soccer coach for Mercer Island High School.
Ryan said he learned the value of public service while growing up in Seattle's Green Lake area, one of seven sons in an Irish-Catholic family.
His father, Thomas Ryan Sr., who died in late 2011, had started working for King County with an entry-level job lining ballfields and rose to be King County deputy executive.
"My dad was a hero," he said.
Two of Ryan's siblings have been involved in local politics.
Rick Ryan serves on the Mountlake Terrace City Council. Tim Ryan was a District Court judge who resigned last year after refusing to take sobriety tests during an arrest for suspected drunken driving.
Reedy, 59, is a lifelong resident of south Snohomish County. He until recently worked in customer service for Mill Creek-based Jaco Environmental, but said he recently changed jobs.
Reedy said last week that the county should be more accountable to taxpayers, but had not studied next year's proposed budget in enough depth to offer specific improvements.
"I'm going to look at it this weekend to get a better idea," Reedy said last week.
Reedy said the county should look to diversify the economy beyond the Boeing Co. and aerospace.
"What about bringing the oil industry into this area, like they did in North Dakota?" he said. "Maybe that's something we could look into."
Reedy has run unsuccessfully in several other local elections.
He lost in 2012 to incumbent state Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle. He lost a races for Mountlake Terrace City Council in 2011 and for commissioner of Public Hospital District 2 in 2007.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the candidates
Snohomish County Council, District 4. At stake is a four-year term serving in the county's legislative body. The annual salary is about $106,000.
The district covers portions of south Snohomish County, mostly east of I-5. It includes Mountlake Terrace, Mill Creek, Brier and north Bothell, as well as surrounding unincorporated areas including Alderwood Manor and Silver Firs.
Residence: Mill Creek
Experience: Mill Creek City Council, 1995 to 2012; appointed Mill Creek mayor, 2000 to 2005 and again 2008 to 2009; Snohomish County Tomorrow Steering Committee, 2000 to 2012; Mill Creek Fire District 7 joint fire board, 1996 to 2012; works in leasing and sales for Seattle-based commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews
Party affiliation: Democrat
Residence: Mountlake Terrace
Experience: used to work in customer service for Jaco Environmental; recently started a new job at a marketing company; PhD in history from Pacific Western University (the distance-learning school was later closed and sold to another institution)
Party affiliation: Republican
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