Voting time is near for Aug. 18 primary races

While the November general election ballot will be a lot longer, local voters do have a handful of contests to decide in the Aug. 18 primary.

Bothell City Council

While four seats on City Council expire this year, there is only one primary race to be decided. In the other races, only two candidates filed in each and those candidates automatically will advance to the general election.

The primary race is for the Position 3 council seat held by incumbent Del Spivey. Spivey faces challenges from candidates Gerry Gawne and Jeffrey Bogdan.

“The biggest thing for me is the downtown plan. We’re laying a base for it … I’d like to see some conclusion,” said Spivey who is finishing up his first term on council.

Spivey expressed a belief the downtown project will help assure Bothell’s future, but also argued council made plenty of concessions in response to resident concerns regarding the wide-ranging project’s effect on existing residential neighborhoods.

Among Spivey’s challengers, Bogdan said he believes in the downtown redevelopment, but doesn’t want Bothell to lose what he called its small-town feeling.

A recent college graduate with an interdisciplinary degree, Bogdan wants to put the classroom knowledge gained — in political science, mediation and other related courses — to work in the real world.

“There’s always a way to find a solution without alienating anybody,” he said. “No one has to lose. We can always find common ground.”

Gawne also hit on the downtown rebuilding, and while he also supports the overall concept, he argued he doesn’t want the development to result in an extensive mortgage on Bothell’s future.

Gawne also has repeatedly attacked Spivey for allegedly voting in lockstep with Mayor Mark Lamb and a few other councilmembers.

Kenmore City Council

As in Bothell, there are several expiring seats on City Council, but only one primary. For the Position 2 council seat, challengers Diane Brennan and Bob Black are attempting to unseat incumbent Laurie Sperry.

For the most part, Brennan appears to be mounting the more high-profile challenge, blasting Sperry and the current council on several fronts.

For example, Brennan alleged council has held meetings in violation of Washington’s open-meeting statutes. She further accused the city of allowing a Lake Point area company to operate without the needed permits.

Sperry did not want to respond to each of Brennan’s accusations.

“I think she (Brennan) should simply run a more positive race,” Sperry said. She touted what she feels are the current council’s accomplishments, pointing to the well-advertised reconstruction of State Route 522, among other projects. She also mentioned renovations to Rhododendron and Log Boom parks.

For the most part, Black stayed above the fray, but did criticize the current council as being out of touch with the community’s wishes. He said many council decisions benefit small, specific groups of people. Moving on to more specific issues, Black came out squarely against the idea of a new Kenmore city hall.

“It’s a very ostentatious thing,” he said.

Black also wants to grant residents the right to place issues on the ballot via referendum or initiative, a right he said the current council has chosen to withhold.

Northshore School District

Once more, there are a few expiring seats, but only one primary contest, a crowded affair for the District 1 board of directors seat pitting incumbent Sue Buske against three challengers.

A substitute teacher for the Edmonds School District, one of the challengers, Julia Lacey, said the fact Buske is facing so much competition shows the public is in the mood for change.

Lacey made her comments during a recent candidate’s forum. During that forum, candidate Arthur Hu repeatedly argued against state-mandated Washington Assessment for Student Learning (WASL) tests, at one point saying students should not be held to some seemingly arbitrary standards.

As did many of the candidates, Lacey named controlling class sizes as a top priority. She said she knows of district classrooms that had to be physically rearranged to accommodate the number of assigned students.

Joining Hu in bucking a common theme among the board contestants, candidate Jeff Wirrick said the answers to all the district’s problems don’t necessarily lie in more funding.

“It’s not all about the money,” Wirrick said. “It’s about what you are teaching and how you are teaching it.”

The forum panel included candidates who will be in the general election, but not the primary. With the exception of Hu and Wirrick, each blasted state lawmakers for cutting educational dollars.

“We have been slammed with cuts from Olympia,” Buske said. But, in answering another question, Buske noted the current district board was able to balance the schools’ budget without laying off a single teacher.

King County Executive

As most know from TV ads alone, there is a crowded field of candidates looking to take over the vacated position of King County executive. The field includes a total of eight candidates. Five took part in a debate in Bellevue late last month.

Each of the five contestants — county Councilman Dow Constantine, state Rep. Ross Hunter of Medina, former news anchor Susan Hutchison, state Sen. Fred Jarrett of Mercer Island and county Councilman Larry Phillips — promised to make the government more accountable and reduce its growing deficit.

None said they would raise taxes to make ends meet.

Other candidates in the race include Alan Lodbell, Stan Lippman and Goodspaceguy, whose real name has been given as Michael Nelson.

Snohomish County Council

The northern end of Bothell sits within the jurisdiction of two Snohomish County Council Districts. Voters in District 5 will be deciding between incumbent Democrat Dave Somers and one of two Republican challengers.

In an e-mail circulated Aug. 6, a third Republican candidate, Greg Stephens, announced he was dropping out of the race for health reasons, stating he was going to be in a cast “for many future months.”

District 5 includes what one of the candidates described as a small swathe of northeastern Bothell. Incumbent Somers touted his experience on the board, as he is running for his third term.

Transportation seems to be a favorite topic for Somers, and one unique proposal he voiced is preserving 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 areas and into Bellevue.

Challenger 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. He said a lack land-use planning is one shortcoming of the current council.

Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little is the other remaining contender for the District 5 seat.

“We need a little more focus on balancing the budget,” he said, adding the county needs to take care of the basics, namely public safety and roads.