John Koster distinguished himself as a hands-on, outcome-oriented member of the Snohomish County Council. Attentive to constituent needs and collaborative and transparent in his work, Koster throws into relief the downside of term limits. He will be sorely missed.
The people of the first council district, which stretches from Marysville to Darrington, and from Arlington north to the county line, benefit from three experienced candidates hoping to succeed Koster. Republicans Ken Klein and Gary Wright and Democrat Bill Blake each bring a wealth of experience, engaged leadership styles and a visceral commitment to public service. Each is determined to work closely with the new county executive to restore faith and integrity in county government.
Libertarian newcomer Sean Olson focuses on reducing regulations. We encourage Olson to become more involved in civic life. Democrat Carsten Mullin was the only candidate who didn’t participate in the endorsement interview.
In a close call, the Herald Editorial Board recommends Ken Klein and Bill Blake. Both are in-the-weeds problem solvers with the requisite experience to inform the county’s 10-year comprehensive planning process. Like fellow candidate Wright, a highly respected small business owner and former realtor of the year, Klein and Blake exhibit the temperament to work with the council on arcane issues of land use, public safety and economic development.
And economic development is fundamental, with a laser focus on bolstering the county’s aerospace sector. Next steps after the Boeing-expansion designation as a “project of statewide significance” include collaborating with state and regional officials to ensure a coherent game plan.
Klein is an impressive soul, serving on the Arlington City Council and as vice-chair of the Snohomish County Planning Commission. While Klein pledges to provide a conservative voice (the other four councilmembers are Democrats) colleagues note that he elevates service above party. It’s a promising leadership style. Klein hails from a long line of Stillaguamish Valley dairy farmers and works as the operations support manager for the Compass Group at the Microsoft campus in Redmond.
Like Klein, Blake has deep roots in the county (he is related to Emory Ferguson who founded the city of Snohomish.) For the past 13 years, Blake has worked for the city of Arlington as its natural resources director and the assistant director of community development. Blake’s strength is seeing the nuances of permitting and development through a bureaucratic lens (read: he knows how agencies really work.)
Ken Klein and Bill Blake offer voters a genuine choice.