Somers, Dana top good field

Perhaps what’s most remarkable about the three-way primary race for the District 5 seat on the Snohomish County Council is just how little the candidates disagree.

This is, after all, a seat that has a history of contentious, even cantankerous, campaigns. The last two pitted Dave Somers and Jeff Sax, who battled hard over development issues in the district that includes Lake Stevens, Snohomish, Monroe and points east.

The recession, and its effect on real estate, has taken some of the urgency out of that topic, which helps explain why this campaign is so unusually civil. Another reason, though, is that all three have practical streaks, in addition to being well-qualified. Even when they disagree, they do so respectfully — a refreshing example we encourage others to follow.

The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will advance to the Nov. 3 general election. Somers, the incumbent and lone Democrat in the race, clearly deserves to be one of them.

He has served well since returning to the council four years ago, doing what he said he would: keeping his door and his mind open to all points of view. Perhaps nothing demonstrates his success more than the fact that in addition to the usual support he has enjoyed from environmental groups, he’s also been endorsed by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.

Of the two Republicans, former Snohomish City Councilman Steve Dana and current Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little, our nod goes to Dana in a very close call. Either could serve the district well, and both have pertinent experience. We give Dana the edge based on his exceptional grasp of county issues, which shows up in the lucid and in-depth writing he has done on his Web site.

Both Dana and Little are fiscal conservatives, and both say they’d work to limit spending and improve efficiency in county government. As city leaders, both have also seen how haphazard development in unincorporated areas over the years has created problems for cities as they expand through annexation, another issue on which they would focus if elected.

Little has done a good job in his first full term as Lake Stevens mayor, overseeing a budget that’s remained balanced even as the recession has hurt revenues. He has shown himself to be a quick study, and has grown as a leader.

Dana and Little have philosophical differences with Somers, but all three agree on some of the key issues: they’re all opposed to fully contained communities, like the development proposed for the Lake Roesiger area; all support commercial air service at Paine Field as a smart economic development move; and all oppose Initiative 1033, which they agree would further hamstring county and city services that are already under strict funding limits.

Voters should note that a third Republican candidate, Greg Stephens, announced his withdrawal last week, but his name remains on the Aug. 18 primary ballot.

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