Russell Wiita (left) is challenging incumbent John Seehuus to be mayor of Sultan.

Russell Wiita (left) is challenging incumbent John Seehuus to be mayor of Sultan.

Anticipated growth a theme for Sultan mayoral candidates

Russell Wiita is challenging incumbent John Seehuus for the position. The election is on Nov. 5.

SULTAN — With 600 new homes on the way to town, two candidates running for mayor have ideas on how to ease the transition and bring residents together as Sultan expands.

City council member and county legislative aide Russell Wiita is challenging incumbent John Seehuus for the position.

They have more in common than double vowels in their last names. Both candidates stressed the importance of strategic planning to address Sultan’s growing pains.

“I know a city has to grow or die and we’re mandated to take a certain amount of development, but I think we need to gently tap the brakes and think a little more,” Seehuus said. “I’m really concerned about traffic.”

He said he wants to make sure the city’s infrastructure can handle projected growth. He wants to prioritize safety on U.S. 2 and look at expanding its capacity.

To do that, Seehuus said he wants to take a more aggressive approach to lobbying in Olympia.

“Everything seems to be King County-centric,” he said. “We need help out here on our highway. We need capacity improvements.”

Wiita, who grew up in Sultan, said the city needs to prioritize strategic planning beyond the already-existing comprehensive plan.

“For a long time, I think we’ve had an idea of Sultan as a small town and doing things in a small town way,” he said. “But we’re changing, we’re growing. We really need to be thinking and prioritizing things on a bigger scale.”

He wants to analyze what the city is already doing and what its needs are. Then, he said he wants to ask the community about what it envisions for Sultan.

“I want to sit down and ask, ‘What do we want these communities to look like?’” he said.

As a city council member, Wiita said traffic is the number one concern residents bring up.

While waiting on a U.S. 2 expansion, Wiita said he wants to pursue an east-west connection through downtown so locals can avoid the highway.

In his time on the City Council, Wiita said he’s prioritized a balanced budget and helped bring in a city prosecutor to prioritize local misdemeanors.

If elected, Wiita said he wants to look into hiring an embedded social worker, perhaps by sharing one with surrounding cities. He also hopes to build a stronger relationship between city officials and Sultan residents.

“People don’t feel like city hall is listening or that they really understand how decisions are being made or why they’re being made,” he said.

In his position as a city councilmember and working for county councilmember Nate Nehring, Wiita said he’s already developed many of the county-wide relationships he would need as mayor.

“I can start day one with important relationships and experience working on regional issues,” he said.

Seehuus said he’s running for mayor to continue the work he’s started.

During his term, Seehuus said he’s made progress cleaning up the city with sidewalk and road striping projects, as well as the construction of a pedestrian bridge across the confluence of the Sultan and Skykomish rivers.

Seehuus was appointed in late 2017 after former Mayor Carolyn Eslick was selected to fill a vacancy in the state House of Representatives. He spent eight years on City Council, including three years as mayor pro tem.

The mayor’s position is part-time in Sultan.

Since he’s retired, Seehuus said he’s able to make it a full-time job. He has been a resident of Sultan for 30 years.

If re-elected, Seehuus said public safety will be a top priority. During his term, he said he has lowered the city’s homeless population through a “velvet glove approach” by making use of the county’s embedded social worker program and aggressively patrolling parks.

“Our population is tired of it and we don’t want to tolerate it,” he said.

Seehuus touts nearly 40 years of operations management experience, which included a stint working for the Sultan School District, and a decade-long record of public service.

“Experience matters in this election. The mayor is a manager, like the CEO of a corporation.”

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

Name: Russell Gene Wiita

Experience: Sultan City Councilmember, Legislative aide to Snohomish County Councilman Nate Nehring

Age: 25

Website: www.RussellForSultan.com

Name: John M. Seehuus

Experience: 38 years of operations management experience, including eight years as the director of operations for the Sultan School District. Three years on Sultan Planning Commission before joining the City Council. A founding member and vice chair of the U.S. 2 Traffic Safety Coalition, which began 23 years ago. Vice President of the Sultan Education Foundation; 21 years on the executive board of the #Finish522 coalition.

Age: 64

Website: Currently experiencing difficulties, will have it up soon.

Talk to us

More in Local News

This crash in Monroe happened early Friday morning after police discontinued a high-speed chase. Both occupants were taken to a hospital. (Monroe Police Department) 20211022
2 seriously injured in Monroe crash; DUI suspected

The driver hit a center lane divider and rolled his car. Police are investigating him for vehicular assault.

Alejandro Meza watches a video of the altercation he had with Gene Peterson on Community Transit bus during opening statements of his trial on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Murder trial opens for man who shot stranger on Everett bus

Alejandro Meza got into a fight with a passenger over drug use, he claimed. His attorneys say he acted in self-defense.

Police are searching for a female suspect following a burglary at the Masjid Umar Al-Farooq Mosque in Mountlake Terrace. (City of Mountlake Terrace)
Police arrest suspect in Mountlake Terrace mosque burglary

Another person remained at large, after burglars took prayer rugs and Qurans then threw them in a dumpster.

Arlington schools briefly on lockout; students, staff safe

A Mukilteo resident reportedly intended to die by suicide in a school parking lot. They were found and referred to care.

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, center, greets a new trooper during a graduation ceremony, as Gov. Jay Inslee looks on in the Rotunda at the Capitol Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Olympia, Wash. The class of 31 troopers completed more than 1,000 hours of training and will now work for the WSP across the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Rather than get vaccine, nearly 2,000 state workers lose jobs

Ten troopers north of Seattle, 54 Monroe prison workers and hundreds more across the state refused the governor’s mandate.

Top row: Vanessa Edwards (left) and Ray Sheldon Jr. Bottom row (from left): Connor Krebbs, Wade Rinehardt and Katie Jackson. (Not pictured: Sherry Weersing)
After year of tumult, new faces vie for Marysville School Board

One candidate is concerned about “Critical Race Theory.” Others see more pressing issues.

Lake Stevens worker’s protection order granted against boss

The worker and his boss, Public Works Director Eric Durpos, were put on leave for an incident at a grievance meeting.

Police: ‘Prolific’ Marysville thief stole from dozens of gym lockers

The suspect, 23, was arrested this week for investigation of more than 55 felonies.

Most Read