Council race puts rift in spotlight

ARLINGTON – Dan Anderson is aware he’s not popular with some of his colleagues on the Arlington City Council.

At times during his six years on the council, Anderson has found himself the odd man out.

Now that candidates for the fall election have been announced, Anderson finds himself the only incumbent with a challenger.

Anderson said he welcomes the challenge from Rob Pattermann, a recently retired assistant superintendent for the Arlington School District.

“I like Rob. But I don’t think it’s just about Rob,” Anderson said.

He suspects the rift between him and other council members developed because he “doesn’t go along quietly” when he disagrees.

Others on the council have a different take.

Councilman Ryan Larsen said Anderson is unprepared and tries to veer the agenda to his pet issues.

“He’ll find one issue he can hang his hat on and run with it,” Larsen said.

Anderson defended the stands he has taken.

“If I disagree about something, I’m vocal about it, and I try to see that the arguments about it are heard in the light of day,” rather than behind the scenes, Anderson said.

He has lobbied repeatedly for an independent salary commission, for pornography filters on computers at the library and for televising council meetings, among other things.

“All of these, I’m sad to say, have driven a pretty hard wedge between us,” Anderson said of himself and the other council members.

Sally Lien, Marilyn Oertle and Graham Smith echoed Larsen’s frustrations. They said Anderson often misses committee meetings and then needs to be brought up to speed at council meetings.

At one point this spring, Lien exchanged several e-mails with Eyleen Shouman discussing possible candidates to run against Anderson. Shouman was active with Snohomish County Citizens Against a Racetrack, a group that opposed building a NASCAR track south of town.

Lien acknowledged the e-mails, which The Herald obtained in a public disclosure request, but said she did not ask Pattermann to run.

“For all I know, Dan might be an especially good citizen, but when it comes to working with him, I think all of us have a problem,” Lien said.

Oertle said she admires Anderson’s service as a State Patrol trooper and an Army reservist, including a tour of duty in Iraq. The problem, she said, is that Anderson’s work schedule of rotating shifts makes it difficult for him to attend 7 a.m. committee meetings.

Anderson said the council has not tried to adjust the meeting schedule when possible. He also said he has been frustrated by indications from council members that some of his issues would at least get on the agenda for discussion but then keep getting put off.

Enter Pattermann, whose candidacy might seem an ironic twist. In 2001, Anderson, already an incumbent, shifted positions to challenge and oust Dennis Byrnes, the husband of Pattermann’s boss, Superintendent Linda Byrnes. Anderson lost to Margaret Larson, a longtime school district employee, in a bid for mayor in 2003.

Pattermann said there’s no school connection to his motivation to run.

“I think early on I decided I wanted to run for Position 3,” Pattermann said of Anderson’s seat. “You never really know who’s going to re-file. I didn’t wait to see who was where.”

He said he was motivated to run because his retirement this year freed up more time for public service.

“My style has always been a positive problem solver,” he said. “If my candidacy gives voters a choice, so be it.”

Reporter Scott Morris: 425-339-3292 or smorris@

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