By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
Snohomish County Council candidates campaigning to represent District 5 in this year’s election spoke at the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce lunch Wednesday at Sultan City Hall.
Incumbent Councilman Dave Somers, a Democrat who lives near Monroe, is seeking his fourth term on the county council. His opponent, Chris Vallo, a Republican from Lake Stevens, works as a real estate broker.
The only two candidates running for District 5 this term, Somers secured 56.05 percent of the vote during the August 6 primary election, with Vallo receiving 43.95 percent.
Both Somers and Vallo discussed some of the key issues that are prevalent in the Sky Valley.
“I want to bring leadership that has new ideas, fresh energy, a commitment to the people and a common sense approach,” said Vallo.
Vallo went on to discuss the current state of the economy and cited a lack of good jobs as an issue he would like to work towards improving. Vallo also discussed the increasing dangers of drug addiction, the increase in crime that is a direct result, and stated that he would work to ensure sufficient police intervention in communities to continue fighting against drug abuse.
Vallo told of how he’s visited several local hospitals, and has learned that overdose cases are higher than they’ve been in the past.
“Safety is a big issue, so we have to make sure we have all the right police officers in place,” said Vallo.
He discussed the safety issues in regards to U.S. Highway 2, and how making U.S. 2 a safer road would be a large priority. He also touched on the importance of educating youth, having limited government and also discussed the upcoming County Comprehensive Plan Update to take place in 2015. The update is required to comply with the county’s Growth Management Act.
“We’re going to make sure that the people in this room and the people in the county have the property rights that they deserve to be retained, rather than slowly slipping away,” said Vallo. “We’ve got to be looking at that.”
Vallo vocalized his support of Sultan’s developing shooting range, the establishment of Steelhead Park and Sultan’s “Boomtown USA” movement which is currently being established and put into practice.
“I want to be the person that’s out there talking to you guys, understanding your needs, and taking that back to the government, the county, and working through those things,” said Vallo. “Your voice matters to me and your voice counts.”
Somers started off his presentation with some of his history.
With a background in fisheries, Somers was first elected to council in 1997, served one full term, and then was off for a term. He returned to office in 2005 and was elected again in 2009. If elected, he will be serving his fourth and final term.
“Your leadership here in the city of Sultan, with your mayor and your city council is really outstanding,” said Somers. “They’ve really, over the last few years, grabbed hold of some really big issues and turned things around.”
He described Sultan’s government as both professional and top-notch.
County Council District 5 includes Monroe, Sultan, Gold Bar, Index, Lake Stevens, areas of Bothell, Clearview, Snohomish and Maltby.
“Every community is different and each has its own character,” said Somers. “The unincorporated rural areas are very different, and what I try really hard to do is work with communities to help them to protect their character and quality of their communities.”
Somers discussed the work he’s done in regards to improving U.S. 2 in an effort to make the road safer, which included incorporating “rumble strips” down the center of the highway. The raised areas of pavement cause a noise and a notable vibration within the vehicle as tires make contact.
“We actually put $2 million into a state road to start some of those safety improvements because there was a desperate need of doing something to avoid some of these collisions we have,” he continued. “I’m very proud of that.”
Somers also discussed his support of Steelhead Park, the economic development of the Sky Valley, and the shooting range. Somers was integral in getting the ball rolling on the range idea, and in 2001 pushed to obtain the funding necessary to develop the initial plans.
The plans remained in a holding pattern during Somers’ four years off after he lost to Jeff Sax at the end of his first term in 2001, but when he returned to office in 2005 it was immediately a priority for him. He worked on having the property transferred to the county from the state, and allotted $200,000 dollars in this year’s budget to keep the wheels turning on the range proposal.
“It’s got momentum. You have a local group here also that’s forming a non-profit to shepherd that project,” said Somers, referring to the Sky Valley Sportsman’s Group.
Somers also discussed Boeing, and the fact that the county works closely with the airplane manufacturer, securing a positive relationship, which is crucial.
“30 percent of our economy here in Snohomish County is aerospace,” said Somers.
Somers also brought up the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, which is an organization that has been established to promote economic vitality in the local communities.
“I speak up constantly for East County, to make sure we’re represented, and I don’t think we’re getting lost in that process,” said Somers.
Both Somers and Vallo thanked the chamber for allowing them to speak.