Seven cities form a coalition for clout

The adage that there’s strength in numbers will be tested by a newly formed alliance of South Snohomish County governments.

Seven neighboring cities have agreed to form a coalition to brandish clout in matters of common interest.

The South County Alliance is made up of Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Woodway.

The first meeting is at 7 tonight at Edmonds City Hall, 121 Fifth Ave. N.

A chorus of voices before the Legislature or Snohomish County Council is more likely to be heard – and heeded – than a single one, said Peggy Pritchard Olson, the Edmonds City Council member who will represent her city on the alliance.

It’s possible the group will flex its collective muscle at the federal level as well.

“I view this as something more interest-driven,” said Mill Creek Mayor Terry Ryan, who represents that city. “We’ll be working together to have more clout.”

Meetings initially will be held monthly, then scheduled to suit the work at hand. Location and moderator will rotate.

Joining Olson and Ryan are council members Gary Morgan of Brier, Loren Simmonds of Lynnwood, Doug Wittinger of Mountlake Terrace, Cathy Reese or Jennifer Gregerson of Mukilteo and Robert Schillberg of Woodway.

All told, the members represent about 136,375 county residents and about $2.6 billion in taxable annual retail sales, Marin said.

Each municipality will bring to the table concerns about economic development, transportation and other issues in which all members have a stake. That’s advantageous, Olson said, because “something important to Lynnwood, Edmonds might not have thought about.”

Expansion of commercial air service at Everett’s Paine Field was reported to have been a catalyst for creation of the alliance. Although individual councils already have adopted resolutions opposing further expansion of that airport, Paine Field likely will be a future topic, Olson said.

Looking ahead, and not behind, is the focus of the group, Marin noted, adding the alliance won’t be “fighting anything.”

Simmonds, president of the Lynnwood City Council, identified Sound Transit, SNOPAC and SNOCOM communications systems and fireworks ordinances as possible areas of discussion and cooperation.

Although Marin took the initiative to pitch the coalition to neighboring councils starting in the spring, he said, “the idea has been around in many, many people’s minds for a long, long time.”

Given organizational and time-commitment hurdles, however, nothing ever came together, he said.

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