In the race to succeed Councilmember John Koster in Snohomish County's first district, circumstances are thrown in reverse. Two highly qualified, ethically minded candidates are vying to replace Koster, who is prohibited by term limits to run again.
The impulse is to trumpet "all of the above," with both candidates exhibiting values and qualities in the public interest.
Nevertheless, Arlington City Councilmember Ken Klein has the elected-office experience and political profile that aligns best with the district's conservative sensibilities. Voters would be well served by Klein.
Klein, a Republican, also serves as vice chair of the Snohomish County Planning Commission. A commission seat can be a leadership crucible, balancing private interests, economic development and the state's Growth Management Act. Colleagues laud Klein for putting mission and the public interest first.
His commission record presages a fair-minded approach to the county's upcoming 10-year update to its comprehensive plan as well as the council's often impenetrable land-use debates. In the predominantly rural first district, the newly tweaked transfer of development rights program could play a determinative role. Will a regional-transfer approach preserve the area's agricultural character? It's a subject Klein understands viscerally, hailing from a long line of Stillaguamish Valley dairy farmers (He currently works as the operations support manager for a food contractor on the Microsoft campus in Redmond.)
Like Klein, Democrat Bill Blake has strong roots in the county, and appears to have attended middle school or been neighbors with nearly everyone in the district. For the past 13 years, Blake has worked for the city of Arlington as its natural resources director and assistant director of community development. Blake's strength is seeing the nuances of permitting and development through an in-the-field lens. He's worked in the policy weeds, just like Klein, and knows how to get things done.
Areas that require a discriminating eye include options for siting and building a new county courthouse (a decision that should be made after the new councilmembers are seated) and determining the future of a jail plagued by inmate deaths.
During the campaign, Klein and Blake demonstrated that civility and politics are not mutually exclusive. Too bad we can't scale their example nationwide.
Vote for Ken Klein for Snohomish County Council.
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