Lynnwood mayoral candidates see potential

LYNNWOOD — People running for office in Lynnwood describe the city as a place of unfilled potential, a retail and transportation hub with great neighborhoods, but also traffic woes and a lack of identity.

Lynnwood’s growing fast, and four people want to lead the city as mayor for the next four years.

The candidates are incumbent Mayor Don Gough, current councilmen Loren Simmonds and Mark Smith, and Nicola Smith, a dean at Edmonds Community College. About 100 people attended a candidates forum earlier this month at the college.

Gough’s been running a quiet, stay-the-course campaign. The city worked out its vision a few years back, and he’s committed to following through, he said.

“The citizens want a balanced city,” he said Monday. “Balanced is you provide services in all areas.”

He declined to name specific priorities, saying he lets the City Council and the public guide his decisions as mayor. He says he’s helped Lynnwood regain financial stability and that he made difficult budget cuts when times got hard. He also mentioned the progress on plans for new shops and apartments at the old Lynnwood High School site.

He’s also drawn criticism for his leadership style, which critics call abrasive.

“I am who I am. I am very straightforward,” he said. “People want to get the vision done.”

Simmonds has been on the council 14 years, including six as president. He says the city needs a change at the top. He’d also like to work on traffic problems and start a neighborhood councils program. He’s been a longtime advocate of the city’s use of traffic-enforcement cameras.

Simmonds wants to heal and rebuild Lynnwood’s “bruised” psyche, he said.

“I am confident that I have the motivation, people skills and management experience to make it happen, and I will start by making use of a first-class transition team,” he said.

Mark Smith has been on the council eight years. He wants to improve communication at City Hall and rework the city’s long-term financial goals, he said.

Lynnwood needs a mayor who can recognize its opportunities, he said. He’d also want to set up a coalition to examine how to bring new businesses to Lynnwood.

“I’m really getting a good sense of what people are concerned about, what they’re interested in, what their hopes are for the city,” he said.

Nicola Smith has worked at the community college 26 years. Her current title is dean of student life and development.

The city needs a clearer vision, and she has experience as an administrator, she said. She’s active with the business community, and she worries about Lynnwood seeming unwelcoming.

At the college, she has worked on many large projects and programs, including an athletic field and child-care center, and has “navigated the nuances of dealing with diverse and competing interests,” she said.

She described the current politics at City Hall as unhealthy and unfortunate.

The primary election is Aug. 6. The two candidates who receive the most votes will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

What’s the job?

At stake is a four-year term as Lynnwood’s mayor. This person oversees policy making for the city. The annual salary is about $97,428.

The candidates

Don Gough

Age: 62

Occupation: Mayor, attorney

Website: None provided

Loren Simmonds

Age: 70

Occupation: Development consultant for nonprofits

Website: None

Mark Smith

Age: 51

Occupation: Nonprofit executive management

Website: www.markforlynnwood.org

Nicola Smith

Age: 54

Occupation: Dean, Edmonds Community College

Website: www.nicolaformayor.com

What’s next

Today: Lynnwood mayor; Lynnwood City Council Position No. 2

Saturday: Lynnwood City Council Position No. 3

Monday: Mill Creek City Council Position No. 1

Tuesday: Mill Creek City Council Position No. 2

Previous stories: Snohomish County Council; Index, Snohomish fire district levies; Arlington City Council Position No. 7; Mukilteo mayor; Monroe Proposition No. 1; Arlington Transportation Benefit District Proposition No. 1; Lakewood School Board District 1 director; Camano Island Library Propositions No. 1 and 2; Lynnwood City Council Position No. 1.

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