Of the three districts electing representatives to the Snohomish County Council this year, District 4 is the more urban of the three and also the district that is experiencing the most growth, which brings with it issues of county services, public safety, transportation, affordable housing and economic development.
It’s also the only district this year that drew only two candidates, skipping the crowded primary races the other two districts offered.
District 4, in the county’s south end, is sandwiched between districts 3 and 5, and includes Brier, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace and part of Bothell, along with unincorporated areas such as Silver Firs, Thrashers Corner and the North Creek area.
District 4: First-term incumbent Terry Ryan, a Mill Creek Democrat, is challenged by Marcus Barton, a Bothell Republican.
Ryan, prior to winning election to the council in 2013, served on the Mill Creek City Council for 17 years, including four two-year terms as the council-appointed mayor. Ryan also has worked as a commercial real estate agent.
Barton, a U.S. Army veteran with three tours of duty during the Iraq War, currently works for a company that recycles fiberglass.
Running for office for the first time, Barton admits that he doesn’t have Ryan’s resume of elected experience, but the 20-year Washington state and four-year Bothell resident wants to serve his adopted community and use the interpersonal and logistical skills he developed in the military.
Barton told the editorial board he’s concerned about the pace of growth in his district, particularly in the face of infrastructure that isn’t prepared for new neighborhoods and development. Barton also wants to be an advocate for seniors, veterans and continue his advocacy for those with autism.
Barton also advocates for a tighter rein on the county’s spending, yet at the same time wants to see more spending for neighborhood infrastructure, improved transit service for communities and the availability of detox and treatment beds for those with addiction to opioids and other drugs.
Barton is correct in much of his analysis of the issues facing his district and the rest of the county, but Ryan, in his first term on the council, has shown he is ably handling those issues.
Ryan, because of the growth in his district and his response to it, has become the council’s point person on development and its related issues.
He has addressed a backlog of road and sidewalk construction projects in his district, working for approval of $91 million in transportation, road and sidewalk work in his district, including a dedicated annual fund of more than $500,000 intended to install sidewalks that connect neighborhoods and improve pedestrian safety throughout the county.
Rather than shying away from growth, Ryan sees opportunities in using growth and jobs to generate the revenue that can fund needed improvements. He was one of those who advocated for making a long-shot pitch for Amazon’s second headquarters, mostly because he saw it as a useful exercise for the county as it looked to bring in other employers.
Ryan also has shown care on budget issues. He joined others on the council in rejecting construction of a new courthouse while advocating for the current plans to remodel the existing structure. More recently, he broke from his fellow Democrats in indicating his preference to seek a smaller property tax increase than the modest increase proposed by the county executive for the purposes of hiring five more sheriff’s deputies.
Projects in the county and its cities haven’t gone wanting. Ryan, with the rest of the council, have helped secure grants for schools, parks, infrastructure, tourism and more.
Ryan has effectively represented the interests of his district and the rest of the council and merits a second four-year term.
Prior to the August primary election, the editorial board endorsed candidates for elections in districts 1 and 5 for the county council.
District 1: The board endorsed the election of Nate Nehring, the current incumbent who was appointed to the position in January to complete the unexpired term of Ken Klein, who left to serve as executive director for County Executive Dave Somers’ staff.
Nehring, a Stanwood Republican, is challenged in the general election by Ray Miller, a Marysville Democrat and Air Force veteran, who is a certified veterans advocate and a chemical dependency counselor.
Nehring, 22, was criticized by his Republican challengers for his youth and relative lack of experience, but he has used his time since his appointment to show he belongs there, working collaboratively with the county executive and a council that is split between two Republicans and three Democrats.
District 5: The editorial board also endorsed Sam Low, also an incumbent, who successfully challenged Hans Dunshee last year for the uncompleted term of Somers, when he won election to the county executive office.
Low, a Republican from Lake Stevens, is challenged by Kristin Kelly, a Democrat from Lake Stevens. Kelly worked for many years as the executive director of Futurewise, a statewide land-use advocacy group and is the current director for smart growth with the Pilchuck Audubon Society.
Like Nehring, Low has demonstrated his value to the council and his district by brokering workable compromises with the council while standing on principles to represent his district’s interests.
A complete list of The Herald Editorial Board’s endorsements will be published in the Nov. 5 Sunday Herald, and will be available online at www.HeraldNet.com/opinion on Nov. 1.