Lake's political future looking bright after busy weekendGreater Lake Stevens’ political picture cleared up significantly last weekend, as separate events occurred that will dictate our City’s path through the 2008 legislative session.
Early Saturday morning, Democratic precinct committee officers met at the Labor Temple in Everett to determine the replacement to Sheriff-elect and former 44th District Representative John Lovick (D-Mill Creek). As the 44th District PCO’s met downstairs, the fate of south Snohomish County’s leadership was decided upstairs, as PCO’s voted to replace outgoing Representative and County Councilman-elect Brian Sullivan.
Here in the 44th, it looks as though former Snohomish Mayor and Political Consultant Liz Loomis is headed to Olympia. Loomis garnered 52 of the 67 votes cast. Loomis was followed by Lake Stevens’ Kerry Watkins in second place, and Lillian Kaufer was a distant third.
This is important because the replacement system requires that three names be forwarded to the County Council for selection. It is highly unlikely (but not without precedent) that the Democratically-led Council would go against the wishes of the party’s front line workers especially considering Loomis’ emphatic victory.
Should Loomis end up at the Capital, I am of the opinion she will represent us well. I have no problem disclosing the fact that my vote was cast for Ms. Loomis. Should unforeseen events trip up Loomis’ selection, I will be extremely happy for Kerry Watkins, who ran a dedicated and honorable campaign for Lake Stevens City Council last fall before eventually losing out to John Spencer.
Upstairs in the 21st, none of the three candidates garnered a majority, but my pal Marko Liaas with whom I had the pleasure of traveling to D.C. with last spring edged out two more experienced candidates and looks primed to replace Sullivan. Cheers to Marko.
Locally, a group of Lake Stevens leaders met with Senator Steve Hobbs later in the afternoon to discuss the legislative priorities for 2008.
In a similar meeting last year, the community consensus was to focus on the funding of the Lake Stevens Civic Center, work on ending the disparity in teacher salaries caused by the state’s antiquated “grandfathered” salary system a system which collects taxes evenly and then redistributes the monies unevenly.
For example, teachers in Everett were paid six percent more than there colleagues in Lake Stevens, making it very difficult for the LSSD to hold on to promising young teachers who could make more elsewhere. Finally, it was agreed that funding improvements along 20th Street heading into SR-9 should be focused on.
Due to the community’s united front on these efforts, significant progress was made. The Capital budget included $800,000 for the Civic Center and planning is underway.
The Legislature developed a plan to address inequities in teacher pay through a multi-year stair-stepped plan (admittedly not the ideal situation, but the first action to address this problem is welcome) and an additional $17 million is included in the transportation budget for work along 20th - in addition to the new turn lanes and traffic signals currently being installed.
At this year’s meeting, the group decided to focus on funding the development of a Lake Stevens skate park, the development of a plan for more sidewalks and safer streets, and to focus on supporting legislation that will reward our top math and science students with free tuition to state universities provided they pursue a math/science/technology degree and maintain certain requirements.
The outcome of this weekend’s events is difficult to predict, but I can’t help but feeling that our future is a little brighter today (Sunday, as I write this) than it was a week ago.
Kevin Hulten maintains the Off the Record blog at LakeStevensJournal.com and is the Journal’s former Managing Editor.