Cotton is 36, with a background in manufacturing and engineering. He says he'd focus on decreasing traffic and taxes.
Smith, a 62-year-old mortgage adviser, previously served two dozen years on the council. He says his experience and leadership are essential for the city moving forward.
Both candidates say Lynnwood could be at a turning point. The mayor's seat and three council positions are up for election Nov. 5. The city's finances are improving. Light rail is coming to town. Growth is inevitable.
"Lynnwood has a real bright future ahead of it," Cotton said. "We just need to get a handle on how we are taxing people in the city, and is it fair and is it equally spread around?"
The city needs to address traffic and road-maintenance issues to avoid becoming a small city with big-city problems, Cotton said. He likes numbers and data, and his strength lies in solving large-scale problems, he said.
Cotton has lived in Lynnwood most of his life. He's raising a child here, and his parents are retiring in town. He bought his first home in fall 2012, and started attending council meetings in January.
"By early February, I knew the city would benefit from my analytical and solution-oriented perspective on things," he said. "I'm generally an optimist, but I'm also someone who likes to get into the details of things."
Smith says he would bring institutional knowledge to the job. He's already worked closely with leaders from throughout south Snohomish County, many of whom support his campaign, he said. Smith also wants to reduce city utility taxes.
"I think I have a better insight on the finances of the city and where responsible spending should be centered," he said.
On the council, Smith was known as a frank critic of Mayor Don Gough. He also was one of the first city leaders to concede that Lynnwood was overly reliant on revenues from traffic-enforcement cameras.
Smith said he would be aggressive making sure light rail is correctly routed through town.
"The city needs to take a stronger and much more political stand to not put light rail into the parks and some of the sensitive areas," he said.
Local ballots were mailed out last week.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.
Meet the candidates
What's the job? At stake is a four-year term on the Lynnwood City Council. Council members receive $1,650 per month or $19,800 a year. The council president receives $1,850 per month or $22,200.
Experience: Worked nearly a decade in manufacturing, and spent the past six and a half years as an electrical engineering consultant.
Experience: 24 years on the Lynnwood City Council, from 1988 to 2012, including one term as council president. Senior mortgage adviser for Atlas Mortgage.
Correction, Oct. 22, 2013: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the council position for which the candidates are running. It's position 2.
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