Hot Summer: Lake Stevens election season heats upBY KEVIN HULTEN It’s shaping up to be a hot summer in Lake Stevens. Politically speaking, that is, but I’m sure the weather will be nice as well.
Friday was the last day for candidates to file for office with the county auditor, closing a week of filings that in some cases confirmed suspicions, and in other cases simply surprised.
The City of Lake Stevens will be treated to 11 candidates running for five key spots: four City Council seats are up, as is mayor.
Mayor Vern Little found out Friday that he will be running against Jeff Craig, a Lake Stevens resident and the Military Liaison for the 44th Legislative District Democrats. Craig had announced to local Democrats earlier this spring that he would challenge incumbent Councilman Steve Books for his seat, but changed his mind shortly after a lengthy conversation with his wife.
Little vacated his Council seat in November, after then-Mayor Lynn Walty retired midterm, saying that he had led the City as far as he could go. Little, a Boeing Manager and former President of the Lake Stevens Junior Athletic Association, now runs for election to the Mayoral position at the time when Walty’s term would’ve ended.
When Little vacated his Council seat, the Council invited residents to apply for the opening. After a detailed interview process, the Council chose community activist Suzanne Quigley to fill Little’s seat. Quigley said she would run for reelection when the term came to a close, and she filed with the auditor last Monday.
In a surprising and somewhat baffling move, former Mayor Walty emerged from his retirement and filed against Quigley on Friday, just beating the deadline. This should make for an interesting story for a couple reasons. First Quigley became a Councilmember due to the chain of events set in motion by Walty’s retirement seven months ago. (Walty left, Little moved up, Quigley filled Little’s spot). Second, it will be interesting to see what brings Walty back so quickly after not filling the remainder of his elected term as mayor.
This will be a heated campaign. Both Quigley and Walty have name ID and are well liked throughout the area. Walty is a veteran Lake Stevens leader, and Quigley is a determined and energetic campaigner she’s led successful volunteer campaigns for both the school district’ bond bid and the city’ annexation effort.
The aforementioned Steve Brooks will have to hold off two challengers to retain his seat. He is challenged by Kerry Watkins and John Spencer.
Watkins is a Iraq veteran and member of the National Guard. He works at Boeing and is active in the 44th district Democrats, where he publishes the news letter. Spencer has served on municipal boards in the city previously, and his wife Terri was a multiple-term school board member at LSSD.
Council newcomer Kathy Holder will be running against Michael Friend husband of the Lake Stevens Family Center’s Kathleen Friend (herself a candidate for Fire Commissioner). Holder was appointed to the Council after Arnie Clark stepped down to take a position with the City.
Rounding out the City positions, multiple-term incumbent Councilmember Karen Alessi is challenged by Mark Somers, a regular attendee of Council meetings.
Other local races include the battle for the open Fire Commissioner seat for Lake Fire. This is to be contested by Vern Foster of Foster Press and the aforementioned Kathleen Friend. Jim Mitchell is running unopposed for Sewer Commissioner.
As the campaigns begin, we’ll take the time to get to know our candidates. I’m in the process of interviewing all candidates in contested races, and will be posting “Get to Know” features on a biweekly basis. We’ll start this week with a blog post on Kerry Watkins. I’ll also file a report from Mayor Little’s campaign kickoff tonight. You can find the Off the Record blog at www.lakestevensjournal.com or you can navigate directly to it at www.lakestevensjournal.com/editor’s_blog/blog.html.
It’s an exciting time in Lake Stevens. As our town continues to grow exponentially, it’s encouraging to see so many worthy candidates asking to serve. I expect to see a lot of sign waiving and doorbelling this summer. As the weather gets hotter, so too will the campaign trail, and through the blog and the Journal, we can all walk the trail with the candidates from the air-conditioned comforts of our homes and offices.
Kevin Hulten writes the weekly “Off the Record” column and maintains the “Off the Record” blog. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org