Top row: Nick Coelho, left, Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, David Parshall Bottom row: Jim Smith, left, Robert Leutwyler, Derek Hanusch

Top row: Nick Coelho, left, Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, David Parshall Bottom row: Jim Smith, left, Robert Leutwyler, Derek Hanusch

Lynnwood council candidates face decisions on housing, transportation

More than half of the Lynnwood City Council could be filled with new faces after ballots are counted Tuesday.

LYNNWOOD — This election could decide the tilt of the Lynnwood City Council, with four of the seven seats up for grabs.

In interviews, the seven candidates honed in on transportation, housing, public safety, diversity and equity.

Nick Coelho is challenging incumbent Jim Smith for Position 4.

Incumbent Julieta Altamirano-Crosby is defending her Position 5 seat against Robert Leutwyler.

George Hurst is running unopposed for Position 6.

David Parshall and Derek Hanusch — both without experience in elected office — are seeking Position 7, vacated by City Council President Shannon Sessions, who declined to run for another term.

City Council members serve a four-year term and receive an annual salary of about $20,000.

Position 4

Nick Coelho

Nick Coelho

Nick Coelho

Coelho, 36, thinks Lynnwood should invest more in “social infrastructure” by increasing money for parks and providing the community with chances to beautify and gather in the city’s parks, he said.

His background in parks and recreation and neighborhood design has shown him the community thrives when people have safe places to gather and neighborhoods they can be proud of.

Coelho’s endorsements include former Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith and Democrats in the state Legislature, including Sen. Jesse Salomon as well as Reps. Strom Peterson, Lauren Davis and Cindy Ryu.

Coelho said giving more attention to preventative work will improve the city in the long run.

“People like my opponent don’t really have a long-term vision for the community, and it’s wrecking us,” Coelho said. “It’s a systematic problem and it’s a structural problem. It’s just not being addressed because to do so would require (the city council) to really communicate that they’ve been mishandling the public’s funds.”

Coelho disagreed with other candidates and council members who believe growth is the cause of congestion. Congestion can be fixed with “good urban planning,” he said.

Coelho wants to bolster existing neighborhoods instead of prioritizing new development. If elected, he plans to focus on rezoning underserved neighborhoods into walkable and attractive city centers.

Jim Smith

Jim Smith

Jim Smith

Smith, 72, has served on the Lynnwood City Council for 27 years.

Smith’s endorsements include former Lynnwood Mayor Tina Roberts-Martinez, former City Council member Kerri Lonergan-Dreke and County Council member Nate Nehring.

His campaign focuses on public safety, listening to diverse voices, supporting police and helping people combat drug addiction.

Smith would like to see an increased police presence in parks to combat drug use and other illegal behavior. If re-elected, he would continue championing increased funding for law enforcement.

Last year, an outside investigation found Smith, who is white, discriminated against a woman of color employed by the city. Smith said he disagreed with the findings and that there was “not any merit” behind her claims.

In an interview he said: “I’ve lived a life of diversity,” referring to his childhood on military bases in Hawaii and Japan. He said he prides himself on having worked with people from many backgrounds.

“I hope that the rest of the council can get rid of their perceived — oh, I’m sorry, ‘unperceived’ — prejudices and get out and learn more about these organizations and about these people,” Smith said.

Smith touted his role in the creation of a new senior center. He proposed a daytime senior care facility where people can interact with others instead of being isolated in their homes.

Smith said drug addiction is often the root of homelessness, rather than the other way around.

“Not judging, but helping is the most important thing we can do to help these people,” he said. “We’re going to get you into housing, but you can’t be on these drugs.”

Smith opposed the opening of the Acadia opioid treatment center in January, citing its proximity to single-family homes and the local Boys & Girls Club. Acadia’s medication-assisted treatment offers people prescription-grade methadone that blocks the “euphoric” effects of opioids and lessens the pain associated with withdrawal.

“They don’t have a plan to get people off (opiates), so people are going to be on that drug for the rest of their life — and that bothers me,” he said. “We need to have the objective of getting people off the street and into normal lives without any drugs at all.”

Position 5

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby

Altamirano-Crosby, 52, has served in the position for four years. She’s endorsed by council President Shannon Sessions and Democratic state legislators including Sen. John Lovick and Reps. Ryu, Lilian Ortiz-Self and Julio Cortes.

The incumbent has worked closely with the city’s parks department to research urban heat islands, urban forests and climate adaptability.

Altamirano-Crosby said she attends health fairs, volunteers at the local food bank and organizes safety forums. As the first Latina elected in Lynnwood, she says her bicultural and bilingual backgrounds help her reach a broader audience.

“I have hosted voter information gatherings and walked young people through voter registration,” she said. “I have prepared an information session about our representative democracy and how anyone can participate it, all to raise civic awareness and engagement throughout the community.”

She also founded the nonprofit WA-GRO, which focuses on helping parents understand the education needs of their children, especially people who speak English as a second language.

“I have learned that the more you are visible in the community, the more invitations you receive, and I’m proud of my accessibility to the community,” she said.

Robert Leutwyler

Robert Leutwyler

Robert Leutwyler

Leutwyler, 37, said he plans to make decisions based on fact and data — not emotion.

Some of the current City Council members have made decisions “steeped in emotion,” resulting in dysfunction within the council, he said. He cited the council’s handling of the drug treatment center as an example.

Leutwyler’s endorsements include Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, former City Council member Mark Smith and the Snohomish County Democrats.

Leutwyler would push for policy to bring mixed housing options to Lynnwood. Historically, he said this has led to smooth development and lower housing costs.

“Lynnwood only exists today because it was allowed to grow and evolve,” he said.

He argues he’s more in tune with the issues residents face than other local politicians, particularly when it comes to transit. The light rail is expected to get to in Lynnwood in 2024.

“If politicians rode the light rail or buses every day, the issues that we’re having would not have gotten as bad as they got, because it would have been impacting them directly,” he said.

He added: “As the council, your goal should be to put the Lynnwood Food Bank out of business by eliminating the need for it. There’s only so much you and I can do as private citizens, but the City Council is in the position to fix the underlying issue, and I don’t see that happening.”

Leutwyler believes there’s a lack of accountability at the city level.

“Government policies are contributing to the financial stress people are in,” he said. “That pushes you into homelessness, and then pushes you into situations where you might become a drug addict when you otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Position 7

Derek Hanusch

Derek Hanusch

Derek Hanusch

One of Hanusch’s main campaign issues is finding constructive solutions for homelessness and drug addiction.

At one point in his life Hanusch was homeless, giving him a unique perspective, he said. He proposed creating a community volunteer group to foster positive connections among underserved residents.

“’All are welcome in Lynnwood,’ that’s one of our mottos,” he said. “The city should be proactive in providing positive social influences, and it doesn’t need to cost any money.”

When the light rail comes to the city, Hanusch expects the population influx will result in more trash on the streets. His proposed solution is to develop a citywide program to pay homeless people to pick up trash — similar to a program in San Diego.

Hanusch, who teaches piano to kids, wants to advocate for neglected and abused children.

“Just a kernel of kindness can make a big difference,” he said.

Hanusch said he doesn’t succumb to “political hysteria,” referring to the drug treatment center.

Hanusch is concerned about the impact of e-commerce on Lynnwood’s brick-and-mortar stores. He suggested vacant retail space could be repurposed into places for “experiences and community gatherings,” rather than just shopping venues.

David Parshall

David Parshall

David Parshall

Parshall, 50, said being a teacher taught him how to communicate and cooperate with people from many backgrounds, making him good at defining what works and doesn’t work.

He supports mixed-use housing and adding more electric vehicle charging stations to ensure Lynnwood develops in an environmentally conscious way.

He wants to preserve Lynnwood’s parks and tree canopies.

Lynnwood’s wastewater treatment facility is due for updates. Parshall wants to explore environmentally friendly solutions, such as composting waste into fertilizer for local farmers, as an alternative to the current burning method.

“I have a laser focus on wanting to do less of the drama and more of the business,” Parshall said. “As a future council member, I’m not bogged down by things that aren’t moving the city of Lynnwood forward.”

If elected, Parshall wants to encourage the community to share their positive ideas with the council.

“Unfortunately, when we see the most engagement (with the council) is usually when something has gone wrong and when people are angry,” he said. “I think it would be nice to encourage people to come and share their positive ideas as well as their concerns.”

Ballots are due Tuesday.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained an incorrect quote from Nick Coelho. The correct quote should read: “It’s just not being addressed because to do so would require (the city council) to really communicate that they’ve been mishandling the public’s funds.”

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037; ashley.nash@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

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