The city of Stanwood in recent years has confronted the loss of longtime agricultural employers, economic downturn and flooding, yet continues to grow as other Snohomish County communities, counting about 6,200 during the last census and now estimated as home to nearly 7,000.
Those issues and others remain for the city government, with elections for three positions on its city council, two of which are contested.
Rob Johnson is running unopposed for his second four-year Position 1 seat. Former mayor Dianne Warsinkse White is running against Steve Shepro for Position 2. Current Council Member Arne Wennerberg did not seek reelection. Running for Position 7 are Judy Williams and Michael Braley, who defeated the incumbent, Dorothy Gorsuch, in August’s primary election.
Position 2: Dianne White is seeking a return to city government, while Steve Shepro hopes to begin his work on the council. Both can call on backgrounds of prior service, but White’s previous and current work on the planning commission and terms on council and as mayor will serve the city well.
Shepro, retired from printing and publishing businesses, offers knowledge and past service, including a degree in land studies; as a founding member of Stanwood Stewards, a community group dedicated to the community issues; and volunteer work with Providence Hospice and the YMCA.
Shepro also is an advocate for city government’s engagement with the community, including better notification to residents of land use proposals, more citizen participation and council outreach through the city’s website, ideas worth the council’s consideration regardless of the election’s outcome.
But White’s past experience is too valuable for the city not to call on. A retired pharmacist, White returned to her hometown in 2001, began serving on the planning commission in 2004, served a year on the council, and then served as mayor from 2006 to 2013. She declined to run for re-election to care for her ailing husband, but rejoined the planning commission, on which she continues to serve. White also serves on the YMCA board of directors.
White says she again has the time available to serve on council.
White showed herself to work well with fellow officials in and outside of city government, in particular during floods in 2006 and 2009. Her oversight of the city, particular in advance of the economic recession, served the city well, using attrition to pare down the city’s staff to ride out the downturn. Good management and measured rate increases allowed its utilities department to earn a AA-minus rating for bonds.
Moving forward, White wants the city to invest in high-speed internet, key to bringing more family-wage employers to the city. She also wants the city to develop waterfront parks on two properties recently acquired by the city.
Position 7: While neither has served in political office before, both Williams and Braley are longtime residents of Stanwood; Williams for 19 years and Braley for 22.
Both have also shown a commitment to their town, but Braley offers an impressive range of experience and knowledge that Stanwood’s council can draw from.
Williams, an account executive for Chicago Title, has served on the city’s planning commission since last year and has volunteered with school groups, including the high school’s band boosters.
Her work in real estate and on the planning commission, would provide useful background to the council on issues related to planning and affordable housing, and that background helped earn her an endorsement from the Affordable Housing Coalition, a political action arm of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. In an interview with The Herald Editorial Board, Williams demonstrated knowledge and careful consideration regarding a range of issues.
Braley, a U.S. Army veteran, is currently a sergeant with the Everett Police Department and has worked the last 16 years with Everett and with the Marysville Police Department for five years before that. Braley currently serves on Everett’s Community Outreach and Enforcement Team.
Braley’s law enforcement work has provided him with detailed knowledge of efforts to address issues related to homelessness, mental illness and addiction, specifically Everett’s program to team social workers with police patrols on the streets and at homeless camps.
Braley believes Stanwood needs to continue its involvement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s rating system to reduce the cost of flood insurance, particularly those areas of Stanwood, including its downtown, that are in a 100-year flood plain. That work, he said, will be key to bringing in new businesses and employers.
Braley, as is Williams, is supportive of seeking voter support for a parks district that mirrors the boundaries of the school district and includes Camano Island, but regardless of that vote, Braley said he wants to see the city make investments in its parks, specifically Heritage Park, so it can support tournaments and bring more visitors to the city.
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.