Pos. 2 candidates continue campaign for Bothell City Council

The candidates discuss high-priority issues in Bothell.

Bothell City Council Pos. 2 candidates are Mason Thompson, an account manager at the Pushpay software company, and Leigh Henderson, the founder and owner of Alexa’s Café.

How do you intend to support walkability and transportation in and around Bothell?

Mason Thompson: This issue is central to my campaign, as congestion is an issue I have heard about in every single part of Bothell. We can reap many benefits focusing on building walkable, urban neighborhoods close to high-capacity transit in Canyon Park and downtown, one of which is helping to address our significant transportation challenges.

When we focus state-mandated growth around more urban neighborhoods where residents can meet their daily needs by foot and take high-frequency transit to our region’s job centers, we can grow while mitigating traffic congestion. If future residents live close enough to walk to services, they don’t compete with residents from Bothell’s traditional neighborhoods that need to drive to and park at those businesses. If they live a short walk from a Bus Rapid Transit stop that will come online in 2024, these future residents don’t add a vehicle to an already difficult commute.

Leigh Henderson: I will continue to lend my support for beautifying the streetscapes, making them more attractive and appealing for citizens to walk. I supported the levy for safe sidewalks and streets that is already making a positive difference in safety and walkability around schools.

Regarding transportation, I will continue to educate myself on the various innovative modes and methods that the Puget Sound region and neighboring cities and counties are testing to improve these issues. Rapid bus service has begun building transit hubs and exclusive lanes in Bothell and will continue for the next several years.

I pledge to be solution-focused, transparent and seek public input on the many opportunities we have for managing and growing a better Bothell.

How do you hope to support affordable and workforce housing within Bothell’s established neighborhoods?

Thompson: Bothell’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) ordinance is a great first step. We should also allow residents to add more types of missing-middle housing in our traditional neighborhoods gradually over time. When we do so, we can address housing supply and affordability without the type of drastic change we have seen when we prevent those traditional neighborhoods from incrementally changing. Allowing some two-to-four unit multi-family housing similar in style and construction to existing homes in Bothell’s traditional neighborhoods allows us to add more population naturally with time and protects us from the type of drastic change that makes us feel like something valuable has been taken from us.

We can’t separate housing and transportation in the affordability discussion. Per the American Automobile Association (AAA) the average cost to own and operate a car is $8,469 annually. If a family can walk to services and take transit to work, they could own one car instead of two, freeing up $705 a month to spend elsewhere. Affordable and workforce housing needs to have easy access to transit and services a close walk away.

Henderson: I feel passionately that our teachers, police officers, and firefighters, as well as the thousands of other people employed in Bothell should be able to afford to live near where they work.

I support a multi-pronged approach. First, adding incentives for developers to build new affordable housing options. Second, work with planners to allow upzoning in selected areas based on optimal livability and desired density. Third, incentivize the construction of additional dwelling units in existing single-family neighborhoods.

How will you support the city’s natural attractions, like the Shelton View Forest, for instance?

Thompson: As the chair of Bothell’s Parks and Recreation Board, our city’s natural attractions are very important to me. As we concentrate future growth, providing public parks and open spaces we can share becomes even more vital to the quality of life in Bothell.

Bothell’s multi-use trail system is a valued asset that we should expand. These trails not only provide recreation but are part of the transportation solution as well. We need more amenities like a permanent off-leash dog park and mountain bike trails. There is a particular need for activities for older children in our parks system we need to focus on in the coming years.

As we master-plan our regional growth center in Canyon Park, we should look for a way to acquire park land in Snohomish County Bothell, which lacks the amount of parks we see in King County Bothell. Shelton View Forest, in particular, is a wonderful resource I would love to see protected for Bothell in perpetuity. Hopefully, future negotiations with the owners of the property (a developer and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources) will provide a way forward to do so.

Henderson: Because of their inherent value to the community, Bothell’s natural resources are an important part of our diverse city with its amazing and rich history. Our parks are beautifully maintained with pride by city of Bothell staff. I will work to ensure that the value of our local area attractions is adequately represented in our city’s budget. Visitors to our parks are likely to do business in Bothell. Therefore, maintaining our city’s natural attractions is an investment in our community.

How will you go about keeping Bothell’s character intact while also attending to necessary maintenance?

Thompson: One of the benefits of concentrating future growth in walkable neighborhoods is that the financial commitment per person for infrastructure maintenance is far lower. In recent years we have voted for property tax increases to maintain important infrastructure surrounding public safety and walk routes to schools. Our ongoing maintenance costs are already more than we can afford, and this problem isn’t going to get better unless we recognize the structural issues at play and make adjustments moving forward. Bothell isn’t going to be as healthy as it could be without a growth model that allows us to maintain important infrastructure without constant tax increases.

The important part of Bothell’s character is made up by our neighbors who call it home. Bothell has historically been an affordable place to raise a family within a reasonable commute to our region’s job centers, and we’ve been losing ground on both affordability and transportation. Young people and their families are getting pushed out, it’s harder for seniors to affordably age in place, and transportation to services is getting worse for everyone. Building complete, walkable neighborhoods near coming mass-transit lines and providing a greater variety of missing-middle housing can help us make headway on these important issues, and if I am elected to city council, I will work hard to do so.

Henderson: One of my campaign mottos is “Preserving the Past, Protecting the Present and Preparing for the Future.” I have worked personally and led volunteer efforts, combining citizen groups, business owners, University of Washington Bothell staff and the city of Bothell Public Works to beautify, preserve and maintain our landscaping on Main Street. As a councilmember, I would continue to lead joint initiatives with local stakeholders, both public and private, assuring that participation and ideas are welcome. We want city council’s decisions to reflect the charm, character and community flavor of Bothell.