Tola Marts, Maureen McCarry lead in City Council races
November 3, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 9:50 p.m. Nov. 3, 2009
City Council candidates Tola Marts and Maureen McCarry led by wide margins as Election Day wrapped.
King County Elections released unofficial returns at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. The next update from the elections office will be 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Additional ballots could still shift results in the contested races.
The elections office predicted 56 percent of King County voters would cast ballots. Officials sent 16,428 ballots to Issaquah voters; 5,818 ballots— or 35 percent — had been returned to the elections office and tallied by Tuesday night. The election marks the first city contest since King County switched to all-mail voting.
Newcomer Marts led opponent Nathan Perea by 726 votes — 60 percent to 39 percent — while incumbent McCarry bested challenger Joan Probala by 1,353 votes — 69 percent to 31 percent.
“The candidates who talked about specific, concrete issues” reached voters, Marts said after the elections office released unofficial returns.
Candidates marked the end of the cordial, quiet campaign season in different ways: Marts and McCarry hosted a joint post-election party at Stan’s Bar-B-Q, while Probala and her supporters gathered a few blocks away at Gibson Hall. Perea removed his green-and-orange campaign signs from city roadsides and medians, and then headed to Zeeks Pizza to await election returns.
“I did everything I could have done,” Perea said just before unofficial returns were announced.
Candidates celebrated the end of the races, after months spent laboring over questionnaires, amassing endorsements, raising money and ringing voters’ doorbells — a lot of doorbells.
Perea estimated he knocked on almost 2,000 doors during the sprint to Election Day. Marts said he called on voters at about 1,000 houses.
Perea, a mortgage adviser and highlands resident, and Marts, a mechanical engineer and Squak Mountain resident, vied to succeed longtime Councilman David Kappler.
McCarry appears headed toward a second full term as a councilwoman. After Ava Frisinger became mayor and the left the City Council in 1998, McCarry was picked from 10 candidates to fill the seat. McCarry served until 2000, opted not to run then and made a council comeback four years ago.
“I spoke to the issues and I think people really listened,” McCarry said as she paid her election-night tab at Stan’s Bar-B-Q.
Probala, a real estate agent and member of several city boards, led the successful 2005 push to annex her South Cove neighborhood into Issaquah. She said her involvement in city affairs was far from over. Next up: a trip in mid-November to Sunndal, Norway, to revive the sister-city relationship between Issaquah and the far-flung town.
Probala said she was proud of the campaign, and pleased with the volunteers who turned out on her behalf.
“I have other things to do,” Probala said as her election-night party at Gibson Hall came to a close. “I have plans.”
When the next City Council takes office in January, new and longstanding issues will greet members. The docket will include decisions related to the construction of the new Swedish Medical Center campus and the Interstate 90 Undercrossing to link north and south Issaquah.
New council members face a stark financial picture and help the guide the city through the economic recovery. The specter of additional city layoffs and spending cuts looms as well.
The other Issaquah races on the ballot produced no surprises: Frisinger and incumbent Councilwoman Eileen Barber were re-elected unopposed. Frisinger will begin a fourth term in January. The mayor, first elected in 1997 and re-elected in subsequent races, has said the term will be her last.
Newcomer Mark Mullet, a former bank executive and owner of the local Zeeks Pizza, became the first Issaquah Highlands resident elected to the City Council.
Kappler and Councilman John Rittenhouse decided not to run for re-election. Come January, Mullet will fill the Position 1 seat held by Rittenhouse.
Mullet said he spent the last several weeks studying issues the next council will face, such as the development of downtown Cybil-Madeline Park.
Candidate Marnie Maraldo led Wright Noel in the school board race to succeed longtime school board member Connie Fletcher. Maraldo and Noel led Noel — 58 percent to 41 percent — in unofficial returns released Tuesday. The elections office had tallied about 34 percent of ballots Tuesday night. Maraldo and Wright are new to districtwide service.
Maraldo, a former Cisco Systems project manager and now a stay-at-home mother, built her reputation as a school volunteer and education advocate. Noel, a lawyer, has children at many levels in the Issaquah school system, from kindergarten to senior year of high school.
Fletcher stepped down from the board in September after she was appointed to the state Board of Education.
Voters also elected school board member Chad Magendanz — who was appointed to the board last October — to the seat Tuesday.