Filing for fall election begins June 1
May 12, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
Ava Frisinger seeks last term as mayor
After she won re-election to a third term four years ago, Mayor Ava Frisinger figured she was done with her trademark cobalt blue-and-white campaign signs.
“My husband said, ‘We don’t need to be storing all of these signs,’” Frisinger recalled last week. “And I said, ‘No, we probably don’t.’”
So, Frisinger did what any candidate who thought she had run her last campaign would do: She tossed out the signs.
Looks like the mayor will need new signs. Frisinger will seek re-election to a fourth and what she said would be her final term. No opponents have yet announced their intention to run against her.
“I enjoy the job very much,” she said. “And I enjoy seeing that local government makes a difference in peoples’ lives. And I have a strong sense of responsibility.
“I’m doing a good job — not a perfect job, obviously — but a good job and I would like to continue to do that. I’m not afraid of challenges.”
Councilman David Kappler said he respects Frisinger for her intelligence and work ethic, even when they disagree.
“She is very involved with regional issues and local issues,” he added.
First elected to the post in 1997, Frisinger said she is proud of how Issaquah has grown in regional stature. She said the city became a leader in developing affordable housing, acquiring open space and protecting water quality on her watch. Frisinger also pointed to accomplishments in improving transit options and safeguarding threatened species.
“We have been a really strong player in the region for quite some time now, and those are ones that I think reflect involvement that I’ve had in the region,” she said.
Frisinger launched her re-election bid at a time when the city is facing dwindling revenue and grappling with stark 2010 budget projections. She said her administration is prepared to address the challenges.
“We know that over the long term, at some point the expansion — even if there weren’t an economic downturn — the expansion will end,” Frisinger said. “The urban villages will be built out. Redevelopment will be not really fast in coming to the Central Subarea.”
Councilman Fred Butler credited Frisinger for her steady leadership and for giving Issaquah a voice on regional matters.
“The respect that she enjoys in the region has benefited just about everyone,” he said.
Tola Marts challenges David Kappler
Squak Mountain resident Tola Marts will seek the City Council seat held by longtime incumbent David Kappler.
Marts, 40, is the third candidate to announce his campaign for the seven-member council. Seats held by Kappler, Councilman John Rittenhouse, Councilwoman Eileen Barber and Council President Maureen McCarry are up for election this year. None of the current council members have announced their intentions yet.
Issaquah Highlands resident Mark Mullet and South Cove resident Joan Probala are also running for election. Mullet planned to announce which seat he will seek when the June 5 filing deadline draws closer. Probala is seeking the seat held by McCarry.
Marts said he entered the race because he believes Issaquah faces a turning point as residential development slows and the city works to attract businesses. Council members discussed development issues May 2 as they outlined their goals for 2010. Marts sounded similar themes as he discussed his bid.
“I really see the future of Issaquah being in high-paying, professional jobs that will allow people not only to live in Issaquah, but also to work in Issaquah,” he said.
Marts said he would like to use his engineering background to bring greater clarity about how the city spends money. Marts suggested using metrics to measure performance.
When taxpayers ask how money is spent, Marts said, “I want to be able to answer that question very precisely.”
The question carries greater urgency as city officials work through a $1.5 million budget gap related to declining revenue — as a result of fewer building permits and a drop-off in sales tax money. Officials said they would cut expenses by $1.6 million as a result of the downturn.
Marts praised the city for how it delivers services to residents. But he said officials should be diligent about how tax dollars are spent.
“I think Issaquah is doing a good job,” he said. “I don’t think anything is broken.”
Marts said he would like to see city leaders continue to work closely with regional transit agencies in order to expand transportation options for Issaquah residents.
“I think we have two great park & rides,” Marts said. “I would like the city to do what it can to get those utilized better.”
Marts and his family moved to the Timbercrest neighborhood three years ago. Before relocating to Squak Mountain, the Marts family lived in Klahanie for three years.
“I love Issaquah,” Marts said. “I love that it’s got a real vibrant downtown.”
Marts earned his mechanical engineering degree at the University of Minnesota. The candidate is a design lead at Blue Origin, a Kent aerospace startup.
His two children attend Issaquah Valley Elementary School. Marts was elected to the PTA board and the IVE Site Council, which helps the school prioritize projects and activities. He also served on the Issaquah School District Levy Development Committee.
Marts said his involvement with the school district helped pique his interest in local government.
Kappler praised Marts for his involvement with the community and the school district.
“He’s got a lot of energy, smart guy, family oriented,” Kappler said.
Kappler was first elected to the council in 1991 and re-elected subsequently. He said he has yet to make a decision about running for re-election.
“I’m sure I’ll be keeping my options open until 4:30 [p.m.] June 5,” Kappler said.