Klein offers smart approach

Arlington voters have two high-quality candidates vying for the only open seat on the City Council this fall.

One is Ken Klein, a 1997 Arlington High School graduate who holds a finance degree and currently serves as vice chairman of the Snohomish County Planning Commission. He’s also a forme

r member of the Arlington Planning Commission.

The other is Jim Rankin, who retired last year after a long career in firefighting and public administration, the last five years as Arlington’s fire chief.

They’re running for the two-year, at-large position currently held by Linda Byrnes, who decided not to seek another term.

Both have impressive qualifications and a passion for public service, and both likely would serve with distinction. In a close call, we think Klein’s planning and finance background, first-hand knowledge of how city and Snohomish County governments interact with each other, and his strong emphasis on creating a favorable business environment better fit the city’s current needs.

Klein, whose day job is as a manager for a dining-services company that serves the Microsoft campus, sees expanding the local job base as the city’s top challenge, and offers a two-pronged approach for meeting it: auditing city departments to see where roadblocks to industry growth exists, and active recruitment on the part of city staff and elected officials to draw new employers and, importantly, keep the ones Arlington already has.

Klein also understands that uncontrolled growth can stagnate the local economy, and that sound planning works hand in hand with economic development in ensuring a strong financial foundation for the city and sustainably high quality of life for its residents.

Rankin’s key strengths come from his long public sector experience. As fire chief, he was part of the city’s leadership team, so wouldn’t face much of a learning curve on the council. His approach seems more public-sector-oriented than Klein’s, emphasizing the need to consider regionalizing some services because of tight budgets and lobbying state and federal legislators for more infrastructure funding.

In the only other contested race, for Position 4, we strongly endorse the four-term incumbent, Sally Lien. She has a deep understanding of city government details and nuances, has shown a willingness to make tough decisions, and is motivated to help see city through a tough patch with reduced revenues.

Her challenger, Randy Tendering, identifies some of the challenges facing Arlington — the budget shortfall, traffic congestion, higher water and sewer rates — but doesn’t offer specific solutions. He clearly has a desire to serve, but appears to have more homework to do before he could be a strong City Council candidate.

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