NASCAR advisory group named

Marysville and Snohomish County officials Tuesday announced the members of an advisory committee that will fact-check the proposal for a NASCAR racetrack near Marysville.

However, speedway opponents questioned the selection process.

Jerry Whittington, a member of Snohomish County Citizens Against a Racetrack, or SCAR, said speedway opponents weren’t notified of the committee selection process or given a chance to serve.

County and city officials promised to form an advisory committee during a June 1 public forum on the racetrack proposal.

But Whittington said members of his group repeatedly asked officials about the status of the committee, and he said it was curious that the call for committee volunteers wasn’t publicized.

“To my knowledge, no one in SCAR was contacted,” he said.

Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall said some committee members were chosen because of their expertise on certain issues.

Some volunteered to be on the committee and were picked by Kendall and County Executive Aaron Reardon, but the two also asked others to serve.

Kendall said there’s always the possibility that some may claim a pro-track bias exists on the committee, but he said selections were made based on each candidate’s credibility.

“We feel these people are pretty independent thinkers. They’ve been known as pretty straight thinkers. That’s what we’re looking for,” Kendall said.

Former County Council member John Garner, moderator of the forum that led to the promise of an advisory committee, will lead the group.

It also includes Vicki Gates from the Marysville School Board; Wendy Bart, executive director of the Marysville-North County YMCA; Steve Gobin, a senior manager of the Tulalip Tribes; Arlington resident Margaret Hedlund; Jim Lonneker, a senior vice president with Whidbey Island Bank; Everett Police Chief Jim Scharf; former Snohomish Mayor Jeff Soth; and Bruce Spaulding, district secretary-treasurer with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local No. 751.

Kendall said the committee would set meeting times, as well as how to make the information it collects about a potential NASCAR track available to the public.

Marysville and county officials have been promoting a 599-acre site south of Highway 531 for a new racetrack since talk of a new speedway was stepped up several months ago. International Speedway Corp., owner of 12 of the nation’s major motor-racing facilities, has been looking at expansion sites in Oregon and Washington.

Whittington of SCAR said he wants the committee to look at all sides.

“I would hope that they would look at all the factors involved here,” he said.

That includes investigating the costs and risks to neighborhoods, the environment and the public, Whittington said.

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