Tuesday we began our endorsement for races in the city of Snohomish where voters, along with electing a “strong” mayor for the first time since the 1960s, are electing five of the city council’s seven seats.
Change is certain for Snohomish, and the editorial board’s endorsements for Snohomish are made with the hope that a mix of experience and fresh perspective among the mayor and council will ease what is sometimes a contentious environment for city politics and allow the city and its residents to move forward on a new system of government as well as long-standing issues.
Tuesday the board endorsed long-term city council member Karen Guzak for mayor and recommending the election of Jason Sanders, appointed to Position 3 in January, and Tom Merrill, who has not served in elected office before, to Position 4. Paired with today’s endorsements for Positions 5, 6 and 7, Snohomish should be well equipped to navigate a new system of representation that serves the city’s residents.
Position 5: The seat is currently held by Derrick Burke, but Burke’s unsuccessful run for mayor precluded him from running for re-election to the council. The open position drew the candidacies of Bob Dvorak and Linda Redmon, both closely matched in their community involvement and knowledge of city issues.
Dvorak, a city resident for nearly 20 years, currently is director of Everett’s senior center. Previously he was director of Snohomish’s senior center for more than five years, and among his achievements there, he erased a $30,000 deficit over a six-month period. Dvorak works with a number of community groups, including the food bank, Boys & Girls Club, the Chamber of Commerce and serves as the president of the Kla Ha Ya Days festival. He also served on the Hal Moe Pool committee.
Redmon, who runs her husband’s clinical psychology practice and has a background as a health educator, is also active in the community, serving on the PTA at her children’s schools, the food bank, the Boys & Girls Club, Project Homeless Connect and with the city’s Hal Moe Pool committee. It was her involvement, paired with that of her son to seek improvements to the city’s skate park at Hal Moe, that she said prompted her to consider a run for the council. Redmond has also served on the advisory committee for Snohomish County Tomorrow.
Both candidates showed themselves to have done their background work on city issues, particularly those related to city infrastructure. Redmon went on ride-alongs with city public works staff to learn about city utility issues. Dvorak has concerns that the city should begin making plans on how to replace utility infrastructure in the event of a breakdown or emergency.
Both also demonstrated a desire to work closely with the public, improving accessibility to those on the council and city officials. Redmon hopes to set up regular outreach for council members in the community, she said, and wants to find ways to involve the community’s younger families and adults in city issues.
Either would represent the city well, but the editorial board believes Redmon, the mother of school-age children, would bring with her the perspective of younger families in Snohomish to her work with the council.
Position 6: Current council member Dean Randall declined to seek re-election. Running for the open seat are Larry Countryman, a former city council member, and Eric Reyes, who moved to the city in October 2016, which fulfilled the residency requirement to run for the council this year.
Reyes is an account executive with Sinclair Broadcasting, and has worked in media advertising for several years. Reyes, 30, has an accounting degree from Everett Community College, where he served on the student senate. He also has volunteered with the Everett Gospel Mission and works with Snohomish Rising, a political and social action group.
As a newcomer to Snohomish, Reyes said he is eager to serve Snohomish and wants especially to represent its millennial community. While the voice of a younger adult would be beneficial to the council, Reyes needs more time and experience in his community to serve it effectively in that role.
Countryman, an artist and owner of a bed-and-breakfast inn, has previously served a total of 12 years on the council, and was involved in landmark efforts to establish historic districts in the city and push for the U.S. 2 bypass around Snohomish.
Countryman was supportive of the switch to a strong-mayor government, and as such would be an important voice as the council develops policy for the new administration. His past work on the council also should help inform its decisions. For those reasons, the editorial board endorses Countryman.
Position 7: Yet another decision by a sitting council member, current mayor Tom Hamilton, not to seek re-election attracted two candidates to the seat: Steve Dana and Lisa Caldwell.
Caldwell, a 31-year city resident, is the sales and marketing director for a Monroe senior living facility. She has not served in public office before but is active with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Monroe Rotary and will serve as its president in 2018-19.
Caldwell did not respond to interview requests with the editorial board.
Dana, like Countryman, can point to previous service on the council, a total of eight years from 1990-97, four of those years as mayor and four years as the city’s representative on the executive board of Snohomish County Tomorrow. Dana previously owned a local drive-in until 2010 and now works as a real estate agent.
While it’s been 20 years since he was on the council, Dana has continued his work with the city, including past service on its board of adjustment and current service on the planning commission. He also has served on the food bank’s board of directors, the senior center board, Snohomish’s affordable housing board, the Chamber of Commerce and Snohomish community service groups.
That service has provided him with an extensive background in a range of city issues, including public works and utilities, public safety, budgeting, land use and planning. Dana’s past service and thoughtful responses during his interview make him the best choice for the position.
Register to vote
New voters can register in person at the Snohomish County Elections Office until Oct. 30. For moreinformation on registering or changing an address, call 425-388-3444 or go totinyurl.com/SnoCoVoteReg.
The county’s voter guide will be mailed today. Ballots will follow Thursday.