By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
General election ballots will be mailed out Friday, and this week we conclude our coverage of contested Sultan races.
On Oct. 1, we featured Sultan City Council Position 3 candidates, incumbent Kay George and her opponent, Rocky Walker. Last week we talked to the pair vying for Position 6; write-in candidate Bart Dalmasso and his opponent, Marianne Naslund.
This week we focus on the candidates seeking Position 1; incumbent Ken Marshall, who is facing off against Bob McCarty.
Ken Marshall was appointed to city council in November 2011, and prior to that held a position on the Sultan Planning Board. A Sultan High School graduate, Marshall is a journeyman electrician and currently holds a supervisory position at the Monroe Correctional Complex.
Marshall has volunteered for the past several years at Sultan’s Summer Shindig festival, where he has been responsible for setting up and running the electrical system. He also volunteered to revive Sultan’s Tree Lighting Festival, last year partnering with local schools and businesses to sponsor the city’s lighting contest.
Bob McCarty has lived in Sultan since 2000. He purchased a home in Eagle Ridge and continues to reside there. He graduated from Washington State University with a degree in wildlife habitat management. McCarty went on to work for the State of Washington for 28 years, managing several liquor stores. In his capacity as manager, McCarty also performed contract negotiations between the Washington Public Employees Association and the state Liquor Board.
McCarty is associated with the Sultan Sportsman’s Club and supports the Snohomish County Sultan Basin Shooting Sports Park. Retired, McCarty serves as a part-time security worker for the Evergreen Fairgrounds.
The order in which the candidate information appears was determined with a coin toss.
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?
Marshall: I don’t believe that their lawsuit has any merit; it’s been dismissed once. In my opinion it’s a groundless attempt to smear the current administration and gain a political advantage.
McCarty: Utility funds are by state law to be collected solely for the purposes of providing such services for which each entity is dedicated to. The city of Sultan has given the appearance of transferring said funds to provide revenue for covering expenses not entitled to be used for such purposes. Budget cuts or some other tax increase would be the appropriate response. The lawsuit requests that the city follow the letter and intent of the law in providing such services in the most economical way for the benefit of the ratepayers.
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?
Marshall: First off that sounds a lot like extortion; secondly I’m against privatization. Privatization is a one-way street to higher prices and inferior service. If the service is privatized rates will never go down, only up. The city on the other hand has and will continue to finds ways to increase efficiency and provide the best service at the lowest possible rate.
McCarty: It was pointed out that contracting out garbage services would cut 50 percent in that endeavor alone. Rather than comply with the law the city chose to fight compliance with taxpayer funds (note: it was their first instinct to tap utility funds for this endeavor but it was pointed out that this too was illegal). My stand on the issue is to do it all legally and above board. Also to give the ratepayers of Sultan the best services at the most economical rates.
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? Should Sultan be working towards growth?
Marshall: I think that the Port-to-Pass initiative might have been too big of a reach for some of the players. As a city we should continue to find ways to stimulate our economy and make Sultan a destination for businesses and travelers alike.
McCarty: The Port-to-Pass and Boomtown USA endeavors seem to have plenty of merit to me. I am all for creative new ways to bolster the local economy to provide the next generation with job opportunities they can make a living with. All these young people graduating from high school and college need job openings to start making a living. In a perfect world these job openings should be close to the graduation rate. It is true many will travel to larger cities with more opportunities, but keep in mind these areas are producing graduates also.
What can the city do to best support the youth in the community?
Marshall: We’ve made every effort to promote youth activities, volunteerism and create a safe atmosphere for growth. We’ve expanded our trail system, there’s a skate park and hopefully (sooner rather than later) we’ll revisit constructing a first class Boys and Girls Club.
McCarty: It was recently pointed out to me that it is the parent’s responsibility to entertain their kids. True enough, but perhaps we may try and provide some infrastructure to assist them using the resources we have available. Many of Sultan households are double-income with both parents working to make a living and pay taxes. This makes it difficult to designate quality time to be spent with one’s offspring.
We have assets not available in similar cities of this size; the VOA, Boys & Girls Club, a library, and a multitude of government owned buildings. Schools are probably the largest investment of government money in town. Other than Safe Stop, band, and sports, they sit idle a majority of the time. I think we could do much with maximizing the use of assets we already own.
How can the city best handle the issues surrounding the homeless population in Sultan?
Marshall: The first big step was transitioning law enforcement to the county; since the transition the city has seen a real improvement in conditions. At the same time the city and its residents have shown real compassion and made a number of efforts to feed and clothe those less fortunate than ourselves. I’m proud of our local volunteers and support their efforts.
McCarty: The homeless situation is not likely to be solved in our lifetimes. There are a variety of definitions and a multitude of government programs dedicated to this issue. Our population of concern would appear to be the element with tendencies towards substance abuse. These preferences may lead to disincentives towards seeking and retaining suitable employment. These behavioral endeavors amongst the youth of our town may not make the best role models. Perhaps we might identify the group(s) we have and make some strong suggestions as to what program they may be eligible for.
What do you feel that Sultan is currently doing right?
Marshall: Sultan has a plan! It has an award-winning budget, top notch city services, a respected and capable city manager and a core group of volunteers and city workers. I’m proud to be a part of turning this city around, digging us out from under the mountain of debt left to us by a previous administration and charting a course that will make Sultan the flagship of the Sky Valley.
McCarty: We are on the right track on some of the basic services required of a small city. We have police, fire, schools, utilities, and transportation building the basic framework of a place to reside. There are always options available that are untried in providing these and other services and I see no reason not to explore them.
What is the biggest problem you feel Sultan is facing currently?
Marshall: As I see it Sultan’s problems are twofold; we need to find ways to upgrade our city’s aging infrastructure to accommodate growth and at the same time find ways to reduce costs for our citizens and local businesses.
McCarty: I see the biggest problem facing the city is its inability to adapt to a down economy. Unlike families that cut spending when the income is not there, government seems always to insist it cannot sustain any loss of spending privileges. I am willing to try to change that attitude.
What would you like to say to the citizens of Sultan?
Marshall: It’s been an honor to serve the city and when reelected I’ll continue to do everything in my power to make our fair city a place we can all be proud of. Vote for Ken Marshall, Sultan City Council, Position 1.
McCarty: My message to the citizens of Sultan is if you indeed want to give the area a chance to prosper, give me the opportunity to help further such goals. The near zero-growth rate of the past few years should not be hard to turn around if a more user-friendly majority can be established. As with all elections, there is no guarantee of outcomes. My pledge is to side with the people in the dealings of city government for the benefit of all and the enrichment of our rural lifestyle.