Maureen McCarry touts experience as she seeks re-election

October 6, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Maureen McCarry

Maureen McCarry

From efforts to build roads, to adding social services, to making city programs more eco-friendly, Maureen McCarry is immersed in details of city projects large and small. As she runs for a second full City Council term, McCarry threads information about municipal programs into conversations about her campaign.

McCarry said she is convinced Issaquah will improve as the years unfold, but she said leadership — her leadership — would be essential in the next four years as city staffers take on a docket that includes construction of a hospital in the Issaquah Highlands and a new roadway to link north and south Issaquah.

“My passion for improving this city, for making this city even greater, is what’s pushing me,” she said.

Voters will choose between McCarry, the incumbent council president, and Joan Probala, a real estate agent and member of several city boards.

McCarry moved to Issaquah in 1993 and later settled on Squak Mountain. The former Harborview Medical Center executive kicked off her campaign Memorial Day weekend. After Ava Frisinger became mayor in 1998, McCarry was chosen from 10 candidates to fill the seat held by Frisinger, a former councilwoman. McCarry served until 2000, but opted not to run then. She made a successful council comeback five years later.

McCarry said the impact of the recession would be a key issue during the next four years. City officials and staffers, she said, must forge partnerships with private organizations to help defray costs and complete municipal projects.

“We have to think of a way to maintain essential public services,” she said.

She said reaching out to residents and volunteers could help the city save money. McCarry said she and neighbors cleared invasive blackberry bushes near their neighborhood.

“I think people who have pride in their community will bring that forward,” she said.

McCarry cited the Interstate 90 Undercrossing as a good example of a public-private partnership. The city and a developer building on the former Zetec property will complete the project.

“I think the key in any future endeavor will be public-private partnerships,” she said.

McCarry said the effort to open a human services campus in Issaquah would also require experience. Officials envision the campus as a hub to aid people in need of food, health care and employment.

“In these dwindling economic times, it is essential,” she said.

With voters set to elect at least two new council members, McCarry said her inside knowledge would be important. Councilmen David Kappler and John Rittenhouse decided not to run for re-election.

The shift will represent “a huge change in how we envision the city,” McCarry said. “Right at a critical time when we are planning for our future with 900 [acres] and even more if we include downtown and Gilman Village.”

McCarry was referring to the Central Issaquah Plan, a work-in-progress that sets to guide growth in the 915-acre commercial district. Included in the plan will be efforts to make the city more pedestrian-friendly and improve transit.

The next council will also oversee early plans to transform the downtown, undeveloped Cybil-Madeline Park into a key piece of the city parks system.

“I think that my work on the council, my previous work and my volunteer work has shown that I can bring projects in with good negotiations and a good feeling with the community,” McCarry said.

The construction of a Swedish Medical Center campus in the highlands and the drive to ban polystyrene in Issaquah restaurants and stores will also require leadership from the City Council, McCarry said.

“We are one of the first small cities to take on polystyrene — and that’s a major, major effort,” she added.

Council members will likely consider a ban on Styrofoam takeout containers and other polystyrene products before the end of the year.

As a councilwoman, McCarry voted with her colleagues against raising property taxes despite risks to the city’s bond rating. McCarry said the decision was complicated, because the bond rating had to be weighed against taxpayers’ wallets. But the bond rating subsequently improved, she said.

“These are hard decisions to make,” she said.

When she launched her re-election bid in May, McCarry positioned herself as a candidate who could help economic development move forward in the city. She is not shy about using her connections to attract businesses to the city and promote Issaquah.

“I love the people who want to locate here,” McCarry said. “This is a great city and it’s going to get even greater.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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