By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
ARLINGTON — Two newcomers are running for a vacant Arlington City Council seat, Position 7.
Retired educator Jan Schuette, perhaps best known as chairwoman of Arlington’s Relay for Life fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, and Mike Hopson, a municipal airport commissioner, face off in the Nov. 5 general election. Ballots are to be mailed to voters on Oct. 17.
The candidates are touting to voters their experience and their approaches to problem solving.
Schuette, a former Stanwood High School principal, has served on the state council on vocational education, handled multi- million dollar budgets, written grant requests and managed many employees, she said. Hopson has attended nearly every City Council meeting during the past three years, and Schuette has been attending for more than a year. Along with his service on the airport commission, Hopson also is an educator and has served on the board of a community mental health association, he said.
The candidates agree with each other about how Arlington should support itself through the sales tax. The city needs to encourage growth of manufacturing companies in the city, they said.
The City Council this month is toying with the idea of a property tax increase, an issue that could go before voters next year, to build its reserves and pay for city operations.
The candidates said they might support the idea in the short term.
“But instead of a property tax increase, I would rather we grow our way out of the problem of a budget shortfall and that we better manage our city finances,” Hopson said. “A property tax alternative might be OK in short term. But we need to rely on manufacturing.”
Schuette said Arlington has one of the lowest tax rates in the county and she believes voters would support a limited property tax increase for essential services.
She said she is most concerned that the city find the resources to rebuild the number of police and firefighters in Arlington by at least two positions in each department. The increasing number of calls to the fire and police departments demands that the need be filled, she said.
“In order to add personnel, we must have a sustainable tax base,” Schuette said. “It is imperative that Arlington attracts new companies and retains our current businesses. The knowledge and skills I gained on the state Council on Vocational Education working on training our work force will provide a perspective not currently available on the City Council.”
Schuette is endorsed by the Arlington firefighters union.
Hopson said he is not concerned with the lack of such an endorsement.
“I am not an advocate for any special interest, especially those who receive taxpayer money,” he said. “When it comes to issues, what drives me are the facts, the studies, the audits. My sole purpose is to serve the public interest, and I am free to do just that.”
Hopson said one of his main interests is in establishing a drug program to address what he sees as the community’s heroin epidemic among its youth.
“A program that treats heroin addiction as a medical problem rather than a legal problem, one that dramatically reduces the overwhelming burden that is currently placed on police resources,” he said. “I am committed to make government work for the public interest.”
Schuette praised the city staff and City Council for looking ahead to the future of Arlington.
“I really would like to be part of that vision,” Schuette said. “I am open-minded and I have the leadership skills, time and energy to make a difference for our city.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com.
Arlington City Council, Position 7
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 a council member attends.
Experience: Arlington Airport commissioner; retired public school teacher; current community college online instructor.
Website: www.supporters ofmikehopson.com
Experience: Retired principal of Stanwood High School; as director of alternative schools in Yakima, she managed budgets of more than $3 million; served on state Council on Vocational Education; Arlington Relay for Life chairwoman and longtime community volunteer.
Website: janschuette forcitycouncil.com