By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
The Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Snohomish County League of Women Voters partnered to host a candidate forum which was held last Thursday evening in Sultan.
The event, which took place at Sultan High School, included Snohomish County Council District 5 candidates Dave Somers and Chris Vallo; Sultan City Council Position 6 candidates Marianne Naslund and Bart Dalmasso; Rocky Walker and Kay George who are running for Position 3; and Kenneth Marshall who is running against Bob McCarty for Position 1. McCarty was unable to attend the event. Gold Bar mayoral candidates Elizabeth LaZella and Linda Loen were also in attendance, as well as Gold Bar City Council candidates Davi Martin and Thomas Palmer, both of whom are uncontested.
Candidates were allowed the opportunity to give a two-minute opening statement, and then the forum was opened up for questions. Candidates had 30 seconds to respond to the questions.
County Council candidates Somers and Vallo were asked questions about countywide issues and also issues specific to the Valley. When asked about Sultan’s proposed gun range, both candidates expressed support.
SULTAN CITY COUNCIL
Sultan City Council candidates were given the opportunity to respond to audience questions addressed to the entire panel; candidates were not addressed individually. After their two minute introductions, they were asked for their thoughts on utility costs, garbage privatization, the proposed pedestrian footbridge, and candidate campaign signs.
Both Marshall and Walker spoke out against the current utility lawsuit being brought against the city by a group of citizens in their opening statements. Write-in candidate Dalmasso focused on his goal of lowering the cost of running city hall in his introduction, and incumbent Councilwoman George talked of her support of the group responsible for the utility lawsuit, as well as her desire to improve the state of Sultan city government.
In her opening statement, Naslund talked of her involvement with the school district, both professionally and also on a volunteer basis. Along with her husband, Naslund has participated each year in the school district’s emergency evacuation drill and has worked with local law enforcement to establish a good relationship between the east precinct and the school district.
Marshall, Walker and Naslund stood in solidarity over the issue of the privatization of the city’s garbage service and all three took a stand against it. Naslund brought up the issue of private garbage companies and the possibility of strikes. Walker took that a step further and held up an April copy of the Monroe Monitor, which displayed a story about the garbage service disruption in Monroe when Republic Services went on strike to support an Ohio labor dispute.
Dalmasso and George both were supportive of the privatization of the city’s garbage service. They agreed that garbage service through a private company would offer the citizens significant savings. George stated that privatizing garbage service through a private company would save the residents 50 percent of what they are currently paying.
Naslund disputed the idea that the city is charging double or nearly double for services that could be acquired privately for far less money.
“We are $7.69 a week and Republic was $6.89 a week. That is less than a dollar difference,” said Naslund. “I’m happy with the service I have.”
GOLD BAR MAYOR
Gold Bar Mayoral candidates Linda Loen and Elizabeth LaZella both talked of their military backgrounds in their opening statements. Loen also discussed her accounting background, telling citizens that she feels it would be a valuable asset to the city should she get elected.
LaZella cited her organizational skills, good work ethic and her strong desire to move the city forward.
“I’m running for mayor to make positive and meaningful changes,” said LaZella.
The Gold Bar candidates were asked questions regarding their strengths, the current litigation against the city, what the city of Gold Bar can do to attract more young people and minorities, city public service limitations, and ideas for developing additional revenue for Gold Bar.
LaZella advocated for new businesses for Gold Bar; a coffee or tea shop, a small restaurant or bakery.
“Something where the tourists who are coming by can stop, they can spend their money, they can spend a little time there,” said LaZella. “Something quaint.”
The topic of how to develop additional revenue for the city led to a discussion about allowing all-terrain vehicle access onto city streets. LaZella stood against allowing ATVs on the streets of Gold Bar.
“I’m kind of opposed to ATVs on our streets. I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” said LaZella. “It’s just more wear and tear on the poor little streets that we’re already trying to maintain.”
Loen was cautious on the topic of ATVs. She didn’t support the idea but also didn’t discount it completely. She supported working out a viable compromise; one that respects the privacy of the homeowners who have chosen to live in Gold Bar for its quiet and peaceful nature, and also respects the added revenue that the ATV riders can bring into the town.
“Between the two, there has to be a compromise,” said Loen.
Candidates were also asked if they had any affiliation, past or present, with Gold Bar resident Anne Block, who has been behind much of the litigation against the city.
Both candidates said that they had no affiliation to the lawsuits.
Each segment of the forum lasted 30 minutes. Approximately 50 citizens from Sultan and Gold Bar attended the forum. Also in attendance was Washington State Senator Kirk Pearson.