By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
There is less than a month to go until November’s election and Sultan candidates have been busy erecting signs, launching internet campaigns and participating in forums.
The Sultan City Council has three contested races this term, Position 3 of which is being sought by Marianne Naslund and Bart Dalmasso. Dalmasso is a write-in candidate, meaning that his name will not be printed on the ballot. Citizens wishing to vote for him should write his name in manually.
Naslund purchased her home in Sultan in 1993 and has appreciated raising her children in the close- knit community. She is the administrative secretary of Sky Valley Options Alternative High School and has worked for the Sultan School District for 12 years. Naslund served as an appointed councilmember in 2011.
Nasland was named the April 2012 Reader’s Digest Hometown Hero for her work with a local teenager. Naslund works with the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce as the Sultan Summer Shindig Street Fair Coordinator each year and has done so since 1997.
Dalmasso has lived in the Sky Valley since the early 1980s and owns a real estate brokerage located on Main Street. One of Dalmasso’s main objectives is to reduce the cost of the Sultan city government and to pass those savings on to the citizens. Dalmasso served on Sultan’s Planning Commission for five years, and ran for council in 2005 and 2011.
The two answered a short questionnaire on issues impacting Sultan.
Currently, there is a lawsuit being brought against the city by a number of citizens who believe that utility funds have been mishandled. What are your thoughts on the lawsuit and the fact that citizens are alleging that the city has misappropriated funds?
Dalmasso: I am a member of the Stakeholders group, and of course I support their actions. All of us either live in Sultan and/or have businesses. It’s a shame that we citizens have to spend extra money to force the city to do the right thing. The State law says that monies from the enterprise funds cannot be co-mingled with the general fund, and must be specifically used for the purpose intended when collected. We are in this litigation because we believe the city is basically co-mingling these funds. Because of my involvement in this litigation I don’t believe I can say more.
Naslund: I had heard that the frivolous lawsuit had been thrown out because it had no merit. I had also heard that regular audits done by the state auditor’s office have not found anything to support the claims made by this group. I ask that a “loser pay” clause be included in their lawsuit so if they continue with this farce, they will have to shoulder the legal fees incurred. To date I hear in excess of $16,000 has been spent of taxpayers’ money to defend this lawsuit. What a waste of time and money for the sole purpose of generating negative publicity and personal vendettas.
The citizens behind the lawsuit make up a group called the Sultan Utility Stakeholders group. They have stated that they will withdraw their lawsuit if council approves to privatize the city’s garbage service. What are your thoughts on the privatization of Sultan’s garbage service?
Dalmasso: Much of this was answered in previous answer. However, I do believe there are usually many different solutions to situations than one. Many people don’t know I actually worked on a garbage truck many years ago. We used to go to the house and carry the garbage cans to the truck. Considering privatizing the collection of garbage I believe is a real option, and should be considered. I don’t believe just because it’s the government it should be entitled to do anything and everything it wants. I believe it should only provide a service if it can do it for less.
Naslund: As far as ultimatums go, that is sounding too much like blackmail. Since blackmail is illegal, does the Stakeholders group really want to go down that road? I’m curious to know who exactly is willing to go on the record stating they are a member of this group calling themselves the Sultan Utility Stakeholders Group. If it is only 25 people (give or take) and there are approximately 4,750 residents in Sultan, that would mean less than 1% (.5 percent to be exact) is making noise about an imaginary problem. The odds really aren’t in their favor for getting what they want. Since I have reviewed my city of Sultan residential garbage bill against a county friend’s Republic Services bill, I have determined that Sultan’s is $30.77 per month compared to their $27.58 per month for once a week pickup of garbage and recycling (excludes yard waste). That is only a $3.19 per month difference. If you break it down by week, it costs you $7.69 per week to have your garbage and recycling go away in Sultan, and $6.89 per week if you live in the county. Heck no, I’m not in support of privatizing garbage and outsourcing it. I am not dissatisfied with my level of service received from the City of Sultan so why jump ship?
In spite of the fact that the Department of Commerce elected not to officially establish the Port-to-Pass IPZ zone, the city of Sultan is continuing to move forward with the Port-to-Pass initiative and the Boomtown USA concept. Do you feel Sultan can benefit economically from these efforts?
Dalmasso: Sultan can benefit from any positive effort, including these two initiatives. Similar attempts were made before such as the Evergreen Crescent Initiative and the Mountain to Sound Initiative. Unfortunately I haven’t seen much if any benefit. That’s not to say don’t try again, maybe different leadership and different people will make it work.
Naslund: I don’t know much about the Boomtown USA concept, other than my previous opponent Geoffrey Evans was spearheading it before moving away from Sultan. I am completely in support of the Port-to-Pass Innovative Partnership Zone (IPZ) which began in 2011. The idea is to create a manufacturing environment on commercial properties along the Highway 2 corridor that allows opportunities for research and development in our backyard. It’s purely a marketing concept to attract manufacturing businesses that we think would thrive and survive in the Sky Valley, and would provide jobs that pay well above the minimum wage mark. Since the Cascade foothills offer camping, hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, mountain and rock climbing, dirt bike riding, whitewater rafting, fishing, hunting, and target shooting, we would like to steer our economic development plan in this direction through this IPZ plan.
Should Sultan be working towards growth?
Dalmasso: YES! Without growth the city will need to increase taxes on the citizens, which I don’t agree with. If they raise taxes people will become dissatisfied with our government and leave thus moving us towards becoming a ghost town, rather than a boomtown.
Naslund: Slow and steady planned growth is better than rapid growth that infrastructure can’t support, or no growth at all. Families that move to Sultan need to have their property retain its value and a reason to stay. If there aren’t services available to fit their needs, they will go elsewhere. I want to see Sultan retain its charm while meeting the needs of the residents.
What can the city do to best support the youth in the community?
Dalmasso: A parks and recreation department, promoting the various athletic activities in our area would benefit not only the youth but all of our citizens. Issaquah is a prime example of that happening. Mr. Kerry Anderson started that department with himself and one employee, I believe in the late 60s, early 70s. Look at Issaquah now.
Naslund: I am a HUGE advocate for kids/teens but struggle with this topic. Other than providing parks, why is it the City’s job to support the youth? As a parent, I gave birth to my kids with the belief that I would be supporting them until they were at least 18 and graduated from high school. It has been my job to provide food, shelter, clothing, and an entertainment budget for them. It has been my belief system that the schools would educate them and provide them with opportunities for socializing through school sponsored events and activities. Being actively involved in the schools, I see firsthand how many events and activities happen on a nightly basis. I don’t think it should be the City’s responsibility to provide alternate activities for those who choose not to participate in school sponsored activities. I do encourage parents and kids to find a hobby and nourish it together.
How can the city best handle the issues surrounding the homeless population in Sultan?
Dalmasso: That is an extremely difficult situation. All people have rights, and we don’t want to abuse those rights. Some are homeless by choice. Some are homeless because of circumstances beyond their control. And some are homeless because of our laws, not requiring them to get mental help. Each situation would require different solutions.
Naslund: Issues surrounding transient homeless tend to lean towards mental health issues and/or drug and alcohol issues. Issues surrounding families who find themselves homeless because one or both parents have lost their jobs is a different topic altogether. I think Sultan is on the right track by hosting the Volunteers of America Sky Valley Community Resource Center and Food Bank on 1st Street.
What do you feel that Sultan is currently doing right?
Dalmasso: I believe the citizens of Sultan are doing the right thing with their many hours of volunteering. Without them much would be left undone. Three cheers for the citizens of Sultan!
Naslund: Pursuing grants for capital projects. So much groundwork gets done in Sultan because we are able to secure grants and low interest loans for the projects. I am usually amazed and in awe the high volume of grants we pursue vs. the number we are able to secure.
What is the biggest problem you feel Sultan is facing currently?
Dalmasso: Growth, actually the fact that we have not been growing. If we don’t grow, we will die. Growth needs to be handled in a responsible way, so as to not damage the ambiance of our city, or the environment.
Naslund: The negativity and misinformation being generated by the Sultan Utility Stakeholders Group!
What would you like to say to the citizens of Sultan?
Dalmasso: Obviously, I would like to ask them to write in at least my first name, BART, on position 6 in their ballot. Had not Mr. Evans withdrawn from the race, I would not be saying that. I am a Washington native. I moved up on the Sultan Basin Road in 1981 and have lived in the Sky Valley ever since. Sultan is a wonderful place to live, in spite of all the issues raised here. The people here are the friendliest and most compassionate people I have ever met. My final comment is, if it is in the phone book, the government shouldn’t do it unless they can do it for less.
Naslund: I am a servant of the people of Sultan and do not have a hidden agenda for my own personal gain. I do my research and form my decisions based on the data not on personal biases or financial reward. Actions speak louder than words so consider me and my twenty year commitment to Sultan when you vote.