New Stanwood city councilmember is planning for growth

Lifelong Stanwood resident Darren Robb was appointed to fill Elizabeth Callaghan’s seat through 2021.

Darren Robb

Darren Robb

STANWOOD — Snohomish County native Darren Robb will fill the Stanwood City Council seat that opened when Elizabeth Callaghan became mayor in July.

The council appointed Robb at a meeting last week after Callaghan broke a 3-3 tie between Robb and another candidate, Larry Sather.

In his interview with the council, Robb stressed Stanwood’s need to provide housing for a growing population. The city gained almost 800 new residents between 2010 and 2019, an increase of nearly 13%, according to the Washington Office of Financial Management.

“My concern is not whether or not Stanwood will grow, but how we handle the growth,” said Robb, 38.

To meet the projected housing demand, Robb said he’d like to see the city redevelop land downtown rather than expand the city through annexation.

Robb also said he will focus on alleviating traffic within the city on Highway 532, which spans the length of Stanwood and carries commuters to and from Camano Island.

To do that, he wants to add more routes through downtown.

“There are improvements that can be done away from 532 that will have that tangential benefit by giving people more options and improving traffic flow,” he said.

Robb also said he’d like to see Main Street in downtown Stanwood be developed more while still maintaining its small-town charm.

For years, local government and residents have debated plans to move Stanwood’s police station and city hall to higher ground, outside the Stillaguamish River floodplain.

Robb said he’s “interested, but initially reserved.”

City Hall needs to be more prominently featured in the community, he said, and downtown is better suited for small businesses than a police station.

But considering state and local COVID-19 pandemic-related budget cuts, Robb said he’s not convinced the construction could get funding without raising taxes.

“I don’t think there’s a reason to prioritize it over other items on the priority list like downtown revitalization, parks improvements or transportation projects,” he said.

Robb’s term will last through 2021, when he’ll have to run for re-election to serve a full term.

Both he and his wife, Kim Robb, grew up in Stanwood, only spending a few years away for college before returning to start a family. His roots in the city go back to his great-great grandfather, who settled on the Stillaguamish River to start a dairy farm.

The farm is more of a family affair than a business today, Robb said. He now works for Snohomish County on transportation policy and planning.

He spent two years on Stanwood’s planning commission before the city council appointed him last week.

“I wanted to get involved and do whatever I can do to make Stanwood as important to my kids as it was to me and my family,” Robb said. “I don’t really have a goal in mind, I’m not trying to be a politician or have career change. I’m just trying to use what I’ve got and put it to good use and hopefully help move the city forward.”

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

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