Monday, October 24, 2011

Stanwood 2011 Candidates Forum

Last Thursday the AAUW and the Stanwood Camano News held a forum in the Stanwood Middle School to present the candidates and issues for the election now taking place.   About 75 mostly older citizens showed up.  I was disappointed in the event because the format and presentations by most of the candidates did not help me decide for whom to vote.  Because so much was crammed into the two hour event, each candidate had only a few highly structured minutes to speak, much of which was taken up with describing how long they had lived in Stanwood, how many children and grandchildren they had, how much they all loved the proposal for a new YMCA and that Stanwood needed to attract new businesses (duh!).   As for the latter nothing more specific was mentioned by most of the candidates than working with the Chamber of Commerce and vague references to signage.   The most debated issue at the City Council level concerned the Salary Commission.  Candidate Larry Sather was for it. Candidate Roger Haskin argued that it was an unnecessary expense.  Being relatively new to Stanwood,  I could not tell from this forum who was right.   Sather and Haskins are running for different positions so that would not determine my vote.  Sather’s opponent Elizabeth Callagham did not address the issue.  Haskin’s opponent Steven A. Venema was not able to attend.

Perennial Flooding in Stanwood was another issue brought up by two of the candidates -  Larry Sather and Jenna Friebel.  Friebel, a hydrologist with an engineering degree from the Univ. of WA, warned that the flood planes in Stanwood were an impediment to downtown development.  To improve the quality of life and make Stanwood more of a tourist (a.k.a. shoppers)  destination,  Friebel also endorsed a shoreline Master Plan.  

Candidates for City Council Position 5 - William Carlton and Jenna Friebel - at the Stanwood Middle School evening forum

All the candidates have solid roots in Stanwood  with relevant and impressive experience.  So just based on what I gleaned from the forum,  in some cases I would have to pick the candidates based on looks and charm.  Not happy with that practice, I am looking for other sources of information.  As always the Snohomish County Local Voters Pamphlet was some help. 

In addition to the City Council races much time was spent presenting the opposing arguments on various initiatives,  debates between Candidates in the Snohomish County Races and presentations by unopposed School board candidates.  The best point made about any of the initiatives was the emphasis on the difficulty of selling bonds to finance highway construction if I-1125 passes. I-1125 makes the unusual requirement that the legislature instead of an independent agency set highway tolls. Investors in toll revenue bonds see the independence of toll-setting bodies as an essential credit requirement.   On other initiatives my time would have been better spent studying the detailed State of Washington’s Voters’ Pamphlet on these issues.  There was more insight into the County Candidates Mike Hope and incumbent Aaron Reardon on Up Front with Robert Mak on King 5 News.  (now available online) Unfortunately there were some ad hominem attacks on Mak's show. 

Candidates for Snohomish County Executive - Aaron Reardon and Mike Hope -
 at the Stanwood Middle School evening forum

In general I think the Forum would have been more helpful if it had cut out the time given to the initiatives and unopposed candidates, allowed more time for the city council races, and been more flexible in asking questions.  For instance the organizers  asked the same two questions of each candidate and got basically the same answer.  They could have saved a significant amount of time without any loss of information by just asking all the Candidates that favored the  construction of a new YMCA facility to raise their hands.  The same for the question as to whether the City should maintain its current City Hall.  Every candidate basically said the we should retain the current building until the city could afford to build a new one.   This type of question response would probably require that all candidates be seated at the stage at once, but the stage was certainly wide enough.  It would also have provided for more interaction among the candidates that was sorely lacking. 

1 comment:

  1. Regarding looks & charm, Abe Lincoln was famously unattractive and uncharming. Folks said he was unqualified to serve in office because of his failures in business. Hah! History laughs now.