Ballots mailed today: Block out background noise when making your choiceIt’s Oct. 17 and local election season is in full swing. Tonight (Wednesday), the Journal hosts its first annual candidate forum at the Lake Stevens School District Educational Service Center. Ballots are mailed today, and will likely be in your mailbox tomorrow. Around town, we’ve seen campaign signs proliferating like fungi, growing exponentially as PAC seed money and personal contributions continue to pour in.
As Lake Stevens grows, our elections become more important. We are on the doorstep of big changes in less than a decade our previously sleepy town will have more than quadrupled in size. We are becoming a force regionally for proof we need look no further than the fact that we are a finalist to house the new UW campus. Would this have happened before, say, annexation began?
In addition, several key issues will be decided directly following the council and mayoral elections. The City must settle the ongoing Critical Areas Ordinance issue (defining the buffers around wetlands and streams), plan for the new downtown Civic Center and decide how far south the City will expand.
The City is embattled in some areas having previously been sued by outside special interests still circling on the perimeter. On one hand, a development group linked with the City of Snohomish stands on the verge of litigation, pushing and prodding electeds in an effort to get the City to drop its claim on land just north of US-2. On the other, Futurewise (an out of town environmental group locally personified by activists living in the Cavelero area) has previously filed a claim on the City’s CAO, and individual members have threatened litigation in regard to southern expansion.
Despite efforts to muddy the public process and prevent City officials from actually doing the work of the people, significant progress has been made. After many fits and starts over the last 50 plus years, Lake Stevens is looking to the future. A future that includes three separate hubs of commerce, a centralized City government and a revitalized downtown featuring waterfront shops and restaurants, greater lake access and improved parks and recreation.
While the City presses through its unparalleled growth spurt, the Lake Stevens School District continues to justify every tax dollar it collects. Some of you may have read in Sunday’s Herald that the Snohomish School District is considering a $244 million bond to pay for new construction and current overruns. The report said that Snohomish needed over $100 million to renovate and expand a middle school. In Lake Stevens, Cavelero Mid High was completed this year for a grand total of $65 million, on budget and on time. The $65.5 million bond that paid for Cavelero was the district’s largest ever, and passed with a state-high 72 percent ‘yes’ rate.
None of this info should be construed as an endorsement of any one candidate. But when you open your ballot tomorrow and look at the open school board, City Council and mayoral races keep in mind where we are going and where we have been. Block out the political noise in the background, toss aside the last minute campaign mailers and come to your own decisions. Do you like where we’re headed? With whom are you comfortable to make tomorrow’s big decisions? Look within. At the end of the day, the outside agencies can make all the noise they want, but it still comes down to you, your pen and your ballot in the privacy of your home. I’m sure you’ll make the right choices.
NOTE: Please feel free to submit any questions you have for candidates either by email or in person at the forum.
Kevin Hulten is an award-winning freelance journalist and the author of the Off the Record column and blog (located a twww.lakestevensjournal.com). Submit feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.