Lisa Utter (left), Josh Binda (center) and James Rutherford.

Lisa Utter (left), Josh Binda (center) and James Rutherford.

Fair taxation, affordable housing fuel debate in Position 3 race

Lisa Utter, Josh Binda and James Rutherford are seeking Position 3 on the Lynnwood City Council.

LYNNWOOD — Former City Councilmember Lisa Utter will face activist Joshua Binda and former city council candidate James Rutherford in the primary for Position 3 on the Lynnwood City Council.

The trio are vying for a four-year term as the successor to Councilwoman Ruth Ross, who chose not to seek re-election.

Utter and Binda, chair of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Commission, align on many issues, including expanding access to affordable housing and investing in “green” energy and infrastructure.

During Utter’s council tenure from 1998 to 2009, she said she helped secure an Association of Washington Cities grant which cleared the way for creation of a diversity commission.

“But more than that, there was a conversation about and an acknowledgment about the diversity that we have in the city,” she said.

Utter is passionate about decriminalizing poverty, which she said begins with fair policing.

“I’ve done a lot of work on the state level and local level in terms of decriminalizing poverty and having police respond appropriately or in a way it’s not going lead to bad outcomes for people who are mentally ill, or people who have substance abuse (issues),” Utter said.

She has worked for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and most recently the South Snohomish County Emergency Cold Weather Shelter.

Utter served on the Community Transit Board for a decade, as well as the Sound Transit Advisory Group, where she had the opportunity to weigh in on the expansion of transit services and subsequent development that is spurred.

“Now that that’s actually happening I would like to make sure that we focus on the things that we were aiming for,” Utter said. “That it’s walkable, that it has lively, livable streets … that we have public spaces that are green and the parks that make (the city despite) more density, still a pleasant place.”

Binda, a well-known name in local social justice efforts, is making his first run for office. As an activist and chair of the DEI Commission, Binda said he has had the opportunity to feel the pulse of the community.

“I think there’s been a lot of people in our current local government that have been kind of stagnated,” Binda said. “I think they need a new perspective and a new mindset — a new way to push them in the future and not keep us stagnant where we are. I feel that I am a competent person to do so.”

If elected, Binda said his primary goals include promoting the development and accessibility of housing for people of all incomes, working toward fair policing and continuing to invest in green spaces and public transit. Binda said he also hopes to increase transparency in the city’s budgetary decisions and work toward fair taxation.

He said he will be guided by community input, rather than his own interests.

“I want to be a voice of the people, I want to be a representation of the people,” Binda said. “I’m not coming in with my own vision, my own goals — I want my vision to be the people’s vision. That’s why I’m so active in the community because that’s my ultimate goal.”

Binda, 21, studies political science at the University of Washington. In his free time he has volunteered at the food bank and served as an administrator at the Covid Lab Center in Lynnwood.

Like Binda, Rutherford said he would work toward fair taxation, if elected.

Rutherford, who previously ran for council in 2019, is a retired veteran who has lived in Lynnwood for over five decades.

According to the voter pamphlet, Rutherford has served on several community boards including the Airport Community Council and Alpine Ridge Community Council. As and individual with a disability, Rutherford said he would serve as an advocate for others with disabilities.

“I ask for your vote as your representative for a government that will serve all Lynnwood citizens rather than the special interest groups,” Rutherford said in the voter’s pamphlet statement.

Rutherford could not be reached for comment by the Herald’s deadline.

The two candidates who receive the most votes will appear on the general election ballot in November. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 3. Ballot drop boxes and in-person voting are available until 8 p.m. on election day.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella

Joshua Binda

Experience: Chair, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission, 2021; Board Member, WA-GRO Foundation; Board Member, League of Women Voters of Snohomish County;

Website: joshbinda.com

Lisa Utter

Experience: City Council, 1998-2010;

Website: lisautter4lynnwood.com

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