Candidates for Arlington council differ on city staff, unions

ARLINGTON — Three-term incumbent Steve Baker is being challenged by newcomer Jesica Stickles for his seat on the Arlington City Council.

Baker, 61, who two years ago lost his bid to become mayor, is asking voters for another four-year term on the council. His knowledge and experience are what make him the better candidate, said Baker, a longtime construction company owner.

“It takes more than two years to get up to speed on the council,” Baker said. “And with my construction background and my experience, I have the trust of my colleagues to work on the issues we face.”

Meanwhile, Stickles, 33, said it’s time for some fresh ideas on the council. An owner of a small business, a mother of young children and a community volunteer, Stickles said she more accurately represents the majority of the people in Arlington.

“I want to make sure the city isn’t getting the same thing over and over with council members who stay on for long periods of time,” Stickles said. “I want to continue to serve my community and look to the future of our city.”

Baker and Stickles agree on much.

They want transparent government, fiscal responsibility, safe roads, economic vitality and the ability to promote business and manufacturing in the city. They want people in Arlington to enjoy a good quality of life.

Where they differ is in their views of city staff, and the fire and police unions.

Stickles said she is proud of her endorsements by the Arlington police and fire unions and the Northwest Women’s Political Caucus. She currently serves on two council-appointed committees and has been attending City Council meetings for about a year.

“At the meetings, I see the heart that city employees bring and how much they care about the work they are doing,” Stickles said. “The City Council’s job should not be to micromanage, but to inspire and give direction.”

Baker has never hidden his mistrust of many city staff members.

“I stand for the citizens and business, and the more you know, the more you can protect them,” Baker said. “A lot of city staff don’t like that. Some of us on the council check the facts and keep the employees honest. Just because they tell you something, well, it might not be true.”

Baker also said he doesn’t think the police and fire unions should endorse candidates and that candidates should not accept those endorsements.

“How can you make the hard decisions when you owe somebody?” Baker said. “I have never sought endorsements, but (the unions) have never interviewed me to see if they might want to endorse me.”

Baker said he never served in the military, so he views his participation on the City Council as his public service.

“I want our city to continue providing excellent customer service,” he said. “I want protection for businesses against overregulation. And I am for providing the Arlington citizens with a great town to live in and feel safe in, as well.”

Stickles also volunteers with the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce and the Arlington School District.

“I enjoy serving and love coming up with new ideas that make a process more efficient and therefore, cost effective,” she said. “My number one goal for Arlington is to continue the work to make our city self-sustaining. I want this place to thrive so that someday when my kids come back from college, they will want to buy a house here and open a business.”

Arlington City Council, Position No. 1

The job

At stake is a four-year seat on the Arlington City Council. The job pays between $400 and $800 a month, depending on how many meetings council members attend.

The candidates

Jesica Stickles

Age: 33

Experience: Owner of Stickles Press, past president Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, regional legislative chairwoman for state PTA, led 2011 school levy committee, city sub-committees.

Website: www.jesicasticklesforcitycouncil.com

Steve Baker

Age: 61

Experience: Three-term incumbent councilman, with service most council committees. Owns local construction contracting company.

Website: None

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