Council candidates make their case to voters
EVERETT - Five people are running to fill the remainder of the late Councilman Drew Nielsen’s term on Everett City Council.
The Aug. 7 primary will narrow the field to two candidates who will compete in the November election. Ballots will be mailed this week.
The candidates are Scott Bader, Pete Kinch, Jon Ott, Bill Paulen and June Robinson.
Some of those names may be familiar. Kinch is the former mayor of Everett; Bader and Robinson ran for election last fall but were defeated by incumbents Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher and Council President Ron Gipson, respectively. Paulen and Ott are political newcomers.
Kinch, Robinson, Paulen and Bader responded to questions sent by the Tribune last week. Ott did not reply.
Nielsen died May 12 in a rafting accident. The term lasts through 2015. Councilwoman Gigi Burke currently fills Nielsen’s seat in the interim. The council appointed Burke in June. She withdrew from the race to fill the remainder of the term early in the filing process.
Former mayor Kinch was jolted to run by Nielsen’s death because of his own formidable experience in city politics. Kinch was Everett’s mayor from 1990 to 1994 and a two-term council member. Ed Hansen beat Kinch in the 1993 mayoral election; Kinch got 28 percent of the vote, the Seattle Times reported at the time.
Kinch’s experience is an important part of his campaign. A 1993 Seattle Times article, though, portrays his time as mayor as tumultuous and his administration domineering.
This is “not a time for ‘on the job training’ to fill the remainder of (Nielsen’s) term,” Kinch said, adding, “I am well aware that it often can take as much as a year to a year and a half before someone gets comfortable in a new position. Everett simply can’t wait.”
Kinch, 69, remained active in the community after leaving the city. He is the president of the Everett Port Gardner Rotary, a council president in his Lutheran church and the executive director of the Hands for Peacekeeping Foundation. The nonprofit Foundation travels to Guatemala each year to help people and operates on a half million dollar budget.
His top three issues are the Snohomish Riverfront development, the future development of the former Kimberly-Clark mill site and keeping downtown vibrant.
Encouraging development on the riverfront property is “the most significant opportunity that Everett has had in the last 50 years,” Kinch said.
Keeping Everett’s downtown vibrant is an important asset to any community, Kinch said.
“We have an excellent base to build from but it is critical that we continue to encourage quality development in our downtown core,” Kinch said.
When Robinson tried to unseat longtime Councilman Ron Gipson last year, it was a 60-40 split in Gipson’s favor.
Robinson, who works as a manager in the Public Health King County-Seattle, said she’ll bring a “fresh, independent voice” to council.
“I want to help build healthy strong, safe neighborhoods, a strong job base and recreational opportunities for our city,” Robinson said. She said she would do this by maintaining infrastructure, protecting Everett’s job base and supporting public safety.
As the former director of the Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County, Robinson wants to encourage affordable housing.
Robinson, 53, is a member of the city’s human needs advisory committee and former administrative member of the Northwest Neighborhood.
“I want to make sure we are doing all we can to ensure that our citizens have opportunities for family wage jobs in Everett,” Robinson said. “I will work to make downtown Everett a vibrant place where people want to spend time. I will work to make sure our neighborhoods have parks, recreational opportunities and the amenities that promote a sense of community and neighborhood safety.”
Paulen, the executive vice president of AmericanWest Bank, filed for office because he wants to improve Everett and others told him he has the aptitude to be a council member.
Paulen said his financial background will help him address city matters. He supports public safety, more activities in the parks and attracting businesses to the city.
A political newcomer, he acknowledges he doesn’t have all the answers for stimulating growth, but he said he would analyze the city’s financial position regularly.
Paulen wants Everett to be maintained, he said. “I’d like to be able to take a drive down any street in town and see areas that are neat and clean, free of litter and vandalism, with a bustling mixture of businesses and residences,” he said.
He also said he wants to see the waterfront as a place to highlight Everett’s beauty. The former Kimberly-Clark site has many opportunities, and the city should leverage its abilities to mold it, Paulen said.
“In my opinion, the city has a nearly blank 66-acre canvas on which to paint,” Paulen said.
Paulen said he would reach out to hear the citizens on issues as part of his decision-making process if he moves forward in the primary.
“What I do offer to the residents and businesses of Everett is an experienced financial eye, solid interpersonal skills, and what I’ve been told is a good capacity for critical thinking,” Paulen said.
Bader, a former attorney and current fundraising chair for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, ran against Stonecipher last fall on a campaign of reigning in city spending. Stonecipher won the election 53 percent to Bader’s 46 percent.
Bader said his two top issues for the next three years are fiscal responsibility and job creation.
“Fiscal stability cannot be realized without successful businesses, a strong job base, and responsible and sustainable spending,” Bader said. “Fiscal responsibility is about setting priorities, living within our means, a sufficient ‘rainy day’ fund. We must not spend beyond our revenues.”
He also believes in strong neighborhoods and good infrastructure.
He understands the impact of the economic downturn from his work as a fundraiser for Catholic parishes, he said.
“We must maintain and improve the business climate for companies to stay here and for new companies to relocate in Everett,” Bader said. “A strong and sustainable tax base is the key to all critical and quality of life investments in our community.”
Bader spent almost two decades on the city’s transportation advisory committee, and would maintain funding for transportation. He chaired the Everett Transit Referendum 1 campaign to improve bus service funding in the 1990s.
He also co-founded the Cascade View Neighborhood and currently has a community booster role in the Riverside Neighborhood. He came to Everett as a young child in 1967 when Boeing expanded here.
“I am a listener by nature but take what I hear to work behind the scenes with other decision-makers,” Bader said.
Ott, a criminal justice professor at Shoreline Community College, is a former police officer with the Everett Police Department. Ott handled the Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program, among other roles, before leaving the force.