Mountlake Terrace, a city of 21,000 is expected to grow by some 5,000 new residents in coming years, even as it’s limited to about 4 square miles of land. That means issues of city services, affordable housing and transit are often on the agenda for its seven-member city council.
Along with determining council seats, Mountlake Terrace voters also will consider a $12.5 million bond issue for a civic center that will build a new city hall and add about 3,000 square feet to the existing police station’s 7,000 square feet, built 25 years ago.
All but one of the four council positions on the Nov. 7 ballot drew challengers. City Council member Douglas McCardle, first elected in 2009, is running unopposed for his Position 3 seat.
Position 1: Incumbent Rick Ryan is challenged by Stephen Barnes.
Ryan, a elementary school teacher with the Mukilteo School District who has lived in the city for 28 years, has served on the council since his appointment in 2008 and elections in 2009 and 2013.
Stephen Barnes, a resident of the city for 30 years, is no stranger to the city’s political process, having run for council in 2013 and 2015, and having led opposition to earlier bond measures for the civic center, including a $25 million proposal in 2013. Noting those past efforts to work for city interests from the outside, Barnes says he now wants to contribute from “a seat at the table.”
Barnes’ record demonstrates his concern for responsible financial management, and he is now supportive of the $12.5 million project on the ballot.
Ryan, who also supports the civic center measure, offers a record of leadership and a clear vision of what he hopes to accomplish if re-elected, including supervision of the civic center project if approved and the revitalization through its main street project, while keeping the city’s small town feel. While the city can’t expand out to accommodate housing developments, Ryan wants to see some flexibility on density that will help keep housing affordable for residents.
Ryan’s experience, varied background, his advanced certificate in municipal leadership from the Association of Washington Cities and ability to work with others on the council should earn him a return to council from voters.
Position 2: Incumbent Jerry Smith is challenged by Margaret Loiseau.
Smith, a resident of Mountlake Terrace for nearly 50 years, has served on the council since 2001 and has won appointments as mayor from fellow council members since 2004. Smith is an Army veteran and served 18 years with the Seattle Police Department.
Loiseau, like fellow challenger Barnes, has been involved in the civic center issue, opposing the 2013 ballot measure but now supporting the $12.5 million project. Loiseau has been critical of the council’s past decision to demolish the old city hall without funding in place for the new civic center, a decision that has meant costly lease payments for city offices.
Loiseau makes a case for the need for a fresh perspective on the council, but faces an incumbent with a long history of service and leadership on the council.
Smith is seeking what he says will be his last term on council and wants to see completion of the civic center as well as Sound Transit’s light rail station in the city. Smith said the city will need to hold Sound Transit to past pledges for what that station will include.
Smith’s leadership and experience on transit, public safety and youth and senior issues should serve the city for a final four-year term.
Position 4: Incumbent Kyoko Matsumoto Wright is challenged by Seaun Richards, who also is an incumbent city council member, currently serving for Position 7.
Wright, a real estate agent was appointed to council in 2008, then elected in 2009 and reelected in 2013. Prior to her council service, she served on the Terrace planning commission beginning in 2002. She also serves on the Snohomish County Housing Authority.
Richards, owner of Red Onion Burgers in the city, first won election in 2011 and reelection in 2015. His current term for Position 7 expires in 2019.
Richards has shown his effectiveness on the council. He was among those who negotiated the civic center package that all candidates now agree on. And as past president of the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center, he fostered the center’s move to its new location at the former Lake Ballinger golf course.
That move, Wright noted, removed the need to include a new senior center in the civic center project, allowing a more affordable request to voters.
Richards said he is taking the unusual step of running against a fellow city council member because he wants to bring new leadership with a fresh perspective to the council. Should he win, the council could then appoint someone to his seat.
There’s nothing wrong with a fresh pair of eyes for a city council, but Richards’ method shouldn’t win the approval of voters. Wright is experienced, and in the interview with the editorial board, showed herself to be informed and thoughtful on the issues facing Terrace. We also note that her knowledge of real estate and work with the county housing authority will be of use to the city as it addresses affordable housing, growth and development.
Richards’ maneuver also can’t be conducive to good relations among the council’s members.
Mountlake Terrace voters should return Wright to the council. Richards can run again in 2019, against someone with a fresh perspective.
Register to vote
Snohomish County residents have until Oct. 9 to register or update their address online or by mail. New voters can register in person at the Snohomish County Elections Office until Oct. 30. For more information on registering or changing an address, call 425-388-3444 or go to tinyurl.com/SnoCoVoteReg.
The county’s voter guide will be mailed Oct. 18. Ballots will follow Oct. 19.