MLT candidates spar over economic vitality, public outreach

Appointed incumbent Mountlake Terrace City Councilman Bryan Wahl and his challenger Leonard French in the Nov. 5 election were among candidates who answered questions at a forum two weeks ago, as were incumbent Kyoko Matsumoto Wright and her challenger, Wanda Clarke-Morin.

Wahl emphasized the city’s efforts on economic development, French stressed his opposition to recent proposals for a new city-hall complex, and Wright and Clarke-Morin disagreed over how the city can best communicate with citizens.

Asked after the forum about the most important questions asked at the forum, the four gave these replies:

Leonard French

City Hall needs — Our city manager told us to expect continuing diminished general-fund revenues for the next few years. To avoid cuts to vital services, we must economize to pay the $300,000 due annually for back rent and the estimated $500,000 annually for current rent.

I passed on the idea of using Ballinger Clubhouse temporarily along with other city-owned spaces and possibly modulars. That’s a lower cost alternative to rent until the city can fashion an affordable long-term answer.

Bryan Wahl

The most important topic faced by our city is economic vitality. Mountlake Terrace is fostering a healthy business environment, adopting plans and strategies that attract new businesses to our city, and making effective infrastructure investments to spur economic growth. Our efforts are paying off; in just the last year, we’ve seen hundreds of new jobs throughout the city. We must continue until we have fully achieved our vision for a revitalized Town Center and prosperous business climate throughout the city.

French and Wahl are running for the last two years of the term that Wahl has held since the resignation of former Councilwoman Michelle Robles.

Kyoko Matsumoto Wright

City transparency was touched upon throughout the evening. Our city is probably one of the most open cities around. Citizens get questions answered and can go to the website and find all the agendas and minutes and attachments to both planning commission and council meetings. That includes maps, reports and the many press releases the city sends out. Our website is very busy with over 30,000 hits daily. Our Facebook site is also very popular. We are proud of that.

Wanda Clarke-Morin

Twenty-five percent of our community — the 28- to 40-year-olds — get their news in snippets from their electronic devices. Twenty-five percent of our community — 55+ year olds are folks who still read their books, newspapers. To ask either demographic to listen to a one- to one-and-a-half-hour online audio recording of a city council meeting, assumes due diligence, but is an ineffective way to inform our constituents about the business of the city and does not meet the communication needs of either of the groups.

(NOTE: Incumbent Councilman Doug McCardle and opponent Stephen Barnes participated in the forum but did not respond to requests for statements about the event. Councilmen Rick Ryan and Jerry Smith are running unopposed.)

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

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