Monroe, home of the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, also is home to more than 18,000 residents, many of whom rely on one of three major and often congested highways for their commutes to work and school.
Having seen steady growth along with other Snohomish County communities, Monroe’s continued focus on economic development and transportation, along with city services, public safety and parks, is being addressed in races for mayor and three city council position.
Mayor: Incumbent Geoffrey Thomas, elected to a first term in 2013, is challenged by Jim Kamp, a current city council member, who was first appointed in 2011, then won subsequent elections.
Kamp has lived in Monroe for about 20 years and is retired from the Boeing Co., with a background in IT database and project management. Prior to his time on the council, Kamp served on the city’s planning commission. He also has served as the city’s representative on the Snohomish Health District.
Kamp said he would emphasize economic development as mayor, particularly as a way to provide more revenue for the city to address many of its needs, particularly roads. He also advocates for a more transparent budget process for the city.
The city has been without an economic development manager for more than a year, a position that he believes is necessary to lead efforts to attract new businesses. Kamp, however, is supportive of the Monroe’s new city administrator, Deborah Knight, who is suggesting an economic development push to attract new businesses and promote tourism. He also backs a proposal for a business advisory committee, which is being organized.
Thomas, who served six years on the city council that ended in 2009, has lived in Monroe since 2000. He currently works as a legislative policy analyst with the Snohomish County Council. He has past experience as a firefighter, project manager and planner and service on the city planning commission.
Thomas started his term decisively if with some controversy, laying off the city’s economic development manager a few days after he was sworn in, noting a backlog of work in the planning department and reallocating city resources to reassign those tasks.
Thomas said the city during his term, has worked to improve downtown and is bringing in new businesses, but continues to seek new tenants for vacant storefronts and lots. He is also supportive of recommendations from the new city administrator.
While the city is working on development and maintenance of its own roads, it also must lobby the state for improvements to U.S. 2, Highway 522 and 203. Bottlenecks on Highway 522, heavily used by commuters to jobs and commercial developments, are of particular concern.
More than just providing revenue, Thomas sees commercial development, particularly in offering more shopping and dining options, as a way to keep residents off the highways and in town.
Thomas’ work with the county on legislative issues also is valuable to the city in the connections and background that work provides.
Under his decisive leadership, the city also has become one of a handful of communities in the county that has addressed issues of homelessness and addiction by embedding a part-time social worker with police patrols to connect those in need with services.
Kamp has shown good leadership from his council position, but Thomas has had a strong first four years as mayor and merits a second term.
Council Position 1: Incumbent Kevin Hanford is challenged for his seat by R. Todd Fredrickson.
Fredrickson, a previous candidate for the council in 2009 and 2011, is an Army veteran and has worked for 28 years at the state’s Monroe Correctional Complex, currently conducting offender disciplinary hearings. He has also served on the city’s ethics board, which set ethics standards for city officials.
Fredrickson backs the development ideas of the city’s new administrator, and wants the city to pursue mixed use commercial and residential development specifically along Main Street similar to developments in Snohomish and Mill Creek. One project that he sees as a draw for further development would be a pedestrian overpass across U.S. 2 and the BNSF railroad tracks.
Hanford, a Boeing machinist, has served on the council since he was first elected in 2011. He manages a family business downtown, a service that provides donated clothing to children in foster and adoptive families. Hanford is completing a bachelor’s degree in organizational management.
Hanford works cooperatively with the current council and has been a part of the city’s efforts to focus on financial management and economic development and has the support of council members and the mayor.
Both candidates exhibit a desire to serve their city and deserve voters’ fair consideration, but Fredrickson, aided by skills he’s developed to listen and work with inmates, should be an asset to the council and offer it a fresher perspective.
Council Position 2: Patsy Cudabeck, who first won election in 2009, is unopposed.
In Wednesday’s Herald, the editorial board’s endorsements for Monroe City Council positions 3 and 7.
Register to vote
New voters can register in person at the Snohomish County Elections Office until Oct. 30. For more information on registering or changing an address, call 425-388-3444 or go to tinyurl.com/SnoCoVoteReg.
The county’s voter guide will be mailed Oct. 18. Ballots will follow Oct. 19.