Elections

Snohomish County Council: Somers aims to keep District 5 seat

The northern end of Bothell sits within the jurisdiction of two Snohomish County Council districts.

Of the two, District 4 probably includes more of Bothell. The District 4 seat is currently held by incumbent Democrat Dave Gossett of Mount Lake Terrace, who will be challenged in the November general elections by Mill Creek’s Bob Meador.

County Council District 5 includes what was described by one of the Aug. 18 primary candidates as a small swathe of northeastern Bothell. District 5 incumbent Democrat Dave Somers has three Republican Party challengers in the primary.

Making his home in the city of Snohomish, Somers is running for his third term on the county council. He said he’s still gaining experience as a council member and listed as priorities transportation improvements, job retention and maintaining public safety in the face of budget cuts.

In the area of transportation, Somers talked about improvements to state routes 522 and 9 and U.S. Route 2. Somers said he was extremely proud of gaining $1.5 million to spur safety improvements on Route 2 despite the fact it’s not a county road. He said the safety needs on the roadway made the investment worthwhile.

On a different transportation front, Somers wants to preserve what he called the Eastside railway corridor. Ultimately, he sees excursion and possibly commuter trains running on the tracks that stretch from Everett through the Bothell and Woodinville area and on in to Bellevue.

Among Somer’s Republican challengers, Steve Dana served eight years on the Snohomish City Council and 10 years on that city’s planning commission. He said thanks to all his years of public service, he is extremely familiar with county politics and politicians.

“I’m not happy with the direction the county council is going,” he said, adding a lack of land-use planning is the most glaring shortfall of the current leadership. According to Dana, the Snohomish County Council has encouraged development in unincorporated areas without having any comprehensive plan in place and with little or no input from the cities who ultimately will be annexing those areas.

“Whoever is going to be running those areas ought to have been involved (in the planning) from the beginning,” he said.

In the case of Bothell’s recently nixed attempt to annex areas to the north of the city’s existing boundaries, Dana said he believes it could still happen. He said conflicts with local fire districts over coverage areas — the issue that largely killed the annexation — could be worked out.

“We need a little more focus on balancing the budget,” said council candidate and current Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little. He added the county needs to “take care of the basics,” namely public safety and roads. “We just need to refocus our priorities,” Little said.

Little also called for more cooperation between the county council and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. He said the current council and the executive branch of county government often seem at odds.

Like Dana, Little spent some time talking about the county’s unincorporated areas, saying Snohomish County needs to let its municipalities run those areas as much as possible as soon as possible. He noted Lake Stevens is in the process of annexing some 10,000 people. Little said the county needs to help move annexations along, not hinder the process.

Unincorporated areas are also very much on the mind of council candidate Greg Stephens, who is making his second try for a council seat.

Stephens is one of the residents behind the push to incorporate the Maltby area as a city. He said Snohomish County has used Maltby as sort of a “cash cow” or “dumping ground” for businesses that wouldn’t be allowed to locate elsewhere in the area. In another vein, the president of a local conservation group, Stephens is very interested in environmental issues. He serves on the Community Advisory Board to Snohomish County Tomorrow and has pushed for the adoption of green building policies.

“Land use is key in any number of ways,” Stephens said.

He also added the county needs to pay more attention to its infrastructure, decent roads being, in his opinion, one of the best ways to show taxpayers their money is being wisely spent.

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