MONROE — Jacob Walker has lived in Monroe his whole life. He recalls being late to classes because his school bus kept getting caught in traffic jams that plague Highway 522.
It’s a fresh memory for Walker. He’s barely out of high school. Now he is running for City Council as a moderate Republican, with sights on fixing the traffic problem, addressing homelessness and boosting the local economy.
“I thought my age would be working against me, but it’s been a big positive,” says Walker, 20. “(People) say it’s really good to get a new perspective in there.”
Walker works for echurch, a tech company that builds phone apps for churches. He points to a list of endorsements from Monroe businesses and leaders as evidence that he’s qualified to help run the city.
His opponent, Jeff Rasmussen, 38, has stressed his experience. The director of the local Boys & Girls Club has served on the council since his victory in 2013.
“I’m hearing from other candidates that we have traffic issues and homelessness issues, and I agree we do,” he said. “But we’re aware of those matters and we’re addressing them.”
Replacing current council members, Rasmussen said, could erase the progress they’ve already made on those key issues. For example, he said, it was a step in the right direction to hire an embedded part-time social worker, to respond with police on drug- and homeless-related calls.
Kamp was a planning commissioner before he was appointed, and later elected, to the council in 2011. He keeps his council seat if he loses this race. His mayoral campaign hinges largely on one issue: How should the city market itself to outsiders? Kamp is critical of the current mayor’s choice to lay off an economic development manager in 2014, in the first week Thomas took office. The Monroe that Kamp sees has vacant storefronts and businesses shutting down.
Thomas, 47, counters that the local economy is strong. He sees a city that has thrived over the past three years or so, with new public art, new sidewalks and new opportunities. He maintains there were better uses for the roughly $140,000 cost of that one salary — and that there’s a bigger picture.
“You can’t just point to one person,” Thomas said. “It’s a system. It’s a community that helps build the economy.”
R. Todd Fredrickson, 54, a U.S. Army veteran, is taking on the incumbent Kevin Hanford. Fredrickson has worked in state prisons for 28 years. He believes city officials haven’t done enough to solve traffic congestion in town.
Hanford, 46, a foster dad who founded The Treasure Chest to help other foster families, has been on the council since 2011.
“I think the city’s right on track with what we’re doing so far,” he said.
Kevin McDowell, a software engineer, intends to keep all council meetings in open session, if elected. He’s challenging incumbent Kirk Scarboro, 69, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL.
Scarboro said he spent a good chunk of his first term trying to figure out the complex, intertwined issues Monroe is confronting: transportation, opiates and homelessness.
“If I had an answer to the homeless problem,” he said, “I’d probably be the governor.”
Incumbent Patsy Cudaback, 51, is running unopposed.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.