Getting to know your candidatesMayoral candidate Jeff Craig
“They have taken advantage of the Sky Train line that runs thru their city and reoriented their growth around it”, he said. “We have similar situations, centered on Highways 9 and 92, Machias and 20th Streets and SR-204.”
His motto is “build up, not out’.
“If we want to maintain our community and be able to fit all these people in here, that is the only option,” Craig said. “Placing mixed use properties along our main routes, with large setbacks for parks and walkways are the best plan.”
A major concern for the mayoral candidate is keeping the decision making for the future of Lake Stevens in the hands of local leadership, not the county, state or developer.
“We need to create a better Master Growth Plan; one that will take into account every parcel of land, both inside our current UGA and outside it,” Craig said. “The city has inherited a real mess. The lack of vision by city leaders over the last 20 years has left us with crowded roads, bored kids and a hodge-podge of unconnected sub-plats. Thanks to Snohomish County passing out building permits like Halloween candy, Lake Stevens is getting an ‘extreme makeover’ we do not want.”
As mentioned, ‘bored kids’ has become a problem around town. Craig sees communication and opportunity as key issues.
“Communications is the key,” Craig said. “When parents know who their kids talk to, hang out with, where they play and such, they can enforce their family rules and keep them from getting into trouble. Since the vast majority of households have latch-key kids, cell phones are very useful keeping tabs on them.”
Adding parks, more recreation space and even covering retention ponds for basketball or tennis courts are all ideas Craig would like to see implemented but doesn’t want property taxes to go up. He suggests acquiring grant funding for such projects.
“The most noticeable issue deals with our teens. While the Boys & Girls Club is an option for some of these kids, we need a series of public skate parks, as well as teen oriented after-school activities for others.”
Bringing a university campus to our area, building the civic center and taking care of our waterways are all big issues that Craig supports.
“I’ve been fighting since day one to have the best protection of our water and green spaces that we can,” he said. “Strong CAO’s will preserve our wetlands, creeks and the forested areas that we like to see when we look out our windows.”
He would also like to see a critical areas rule that allows the city to work with the environmentalists as well as the developers. Unfortunately, he feels that community input along with recommendations from the Dept. of Ecology were previously disregarded.
Craig sees leadership working with citizens, developers and environmentalists as key components to bringing Lake Stevens into its future growth potential.
“I have the vision and drive to create the Lake Stevens we all want to live in,” he said. “Twenty years in the Navy gave me the leadership, management and budgetary experience to perform the long term vision this city needs.”
With growth a big concern for citizens, the Mayor has made annexation into the UGA a priority to allow for the growth to be managed locally.
“We will not stop growth, but we can manage it,” Little said. “I will continue to work with the County Leaders, Snohomish County Tomorrow, Puget Sound Regional Council, citizens and the City Council to ensure we grow responsibly. Throughout this process the support of our citizens is critical to the success of the project.”
Because the city is growing by leaps and bounds it is essential that we create a new civic center and open up the downtown waterfront for public access.
“The city is growing and we have outgrown city hall, the library, police station and the fire station,” Little stated. “By housing all these government facilities in one conveniently located building, we can cut the infrastructure and land costs associated with constructing three separate buildings.”
Little also sees the Critical Area Ordinance as something that needs to be updated and reviewed as new input is added.
“I felt that between the Planning Commission, City Staff and the involvement of our citizens, a very good Critical Areas Ordinance was developed. I have to commend them for their efforts,” he said. “In my mind, a balance must be reached between progress and development and making sure we protect our lake, streams and wetlands.”
Because of Little’s extensive involvement in the Lake Stevens Junior Athletic Association, he has a special interest in the youth of our community.
“I have had the opportunity to interact with many of our young citizens through coaching and other activities,” he said. “As a member of the city council, I have received many letters from school children and spoken at several schools. From what they have told me, and my own experience it is clear that our children need more places to expend their boundless energy - safely. With this in mind, I believe that the development of skate park(s), parks in general, baseball, soccer, football fields, a BMX biking park, bowling alley and a movie theater would go a long way towards keeping our children healthy, happy, busy and most importantly, safe.”
As for the future of this great city, Little sees a thriving city with four economic centers including old downtown, Frontier Village, Southlake Plaza and another in the RUTA area between 20th SE and Hwy. 2.
“I see our very own University of Washington campus at the south end of the Urban Growth Area, multipurpose buildings with retail operations at street level, offices on the second floor and residences on top floors are a creative way to save space while combining utility with style,” he said. “As always, community input and support is the most powerful tool to get these jobs done.”
Little and his wife Kathy have been happily married for 23 years and have four children and two grandchildren.