City Council candidates offer varied skills for post
February 15, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Interviews start March 1 for nine council contenders
Candidates offer assorted skills for the open City Council seat created after Maureen McCarry resigned in late December.
The candidates bring backgrounds in community, military and municipal service to the interview process.
The midterm opening for the Position 5 seat attracted nine candidates.
Candidates face the council in public interviews scheduled for March 1. Then, after the 10-minute interviews, council members could recess into a closed-door executive session to discuss candidates’ qualifications.
Under state law, the council can discuss candidates’ qualifications in a closed-door session, but interviews and the decision must occur in public meetings.
The vote to appoint a member to the council is scheduled for March 7, though the appointee might not join the council until later in the month. The salary for council members is $700 per month.
McCarry created the vacancy late last year after she resigned to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The appointee to the vacant seat will serve until the next council election in November. The victor in the council race serves until Dec. 31, 2013.
Michael Beard, a former U.S. Navy flight officer and a Navy reservist, offers military service as he prepares to interview for the open seat.
“I think it’s the best opportunity to get in front of people and showcase what I have to offer,” he said.
The high-performing school district and recreation opportunities prompted the Beards to settle on Squak Mountain to raise a family. Nowadays, he serves as a district manager for a facilities maintenance company.
Beard is also the U.S. Naval Academy program information officer for numerous Eastside schools, including Issaquah High School. The role allows him to help high school students navigate the demanding application process to the academy.
“It is rewarding to see these young people be able to go to a great university,” he said.
Former Councilman Joe Forkner is the go-to guy for difficult assignments.
In September 2009, the mayor picked the former councilman to lead a landmark effort to outline redevelopment in the business district. The citizen panel delivered the recommendations late last year after more than 1,000 hours and dozens of meetings.
The council turned to Forkner in September 2006 to fill a vacancy after Councilwoman Nancy Davidson resigned. The appointment followed a five-year stint as a council member.
Regardless of the outcome in the latest appointment process, the Squak Mountain resident said he is considering a run for a council seat in the fall.
Forkner also serves on the Cable TV Commission, the citizen panel responsible for negotiating agreements among the city and cable providers Comcast and Broadstripe.
Stacy Goodman, a Carson & Noel PLLC associate attorney and past editor of The Issaquah Press, is used to scrutinizing the council through the lens of a reporter.
She covered City Hall as a reporter, and launched a legal career after a decade as a reporter and editor in Issaquah. The experiences as a journalist and attorney could be a benefit to Goodman as she steers through the interview process.
Issaquah Highlands resident Goodman serves on the Park Board, the citizen panel responsible for municipal parks and trails. The board is in the midst of a yearslong effort to build Issaquah Creek-side parks.
Leaders also tapped Goodman for a committee last year to guide redevelopment on almost 90 acres in the business district.
Cristina Mehling, a highlands resident, offers behind-the-scenes experience in crafting legislation for cities as a municipal attorney.
“I’m familiar with the process, I’m familiar with the jargon and with the issues of planning and development, and all of legalese,” she said. “I understand the issues from the ground up.”
In the hillside neighborhood, planning is often the focus, especially as Swedish Medical Center prepares to open a highlands campus and other construction progresses nearby. Mehling said the time is right to join the council.
“I think it’s the right timing now with where I am with my life and my experience,” she said.
The longtime attorney also pitches in for community gatherings, such as the popular Green Halloween Festival, and as a parent volunteer at Grand Ridge Elementary School.
Nina Milligan is a close observer of municipal planning as a member of the Urban Village Development Commission.
The early contender for the open council seat is a voice for the highlands on the commission, although her planning experience is not limited to the hillside neighborhood. Milligan also served on a citizen committee last year to guide redevelopment on almost 90 Rowley Properties-owned acres in the business district. The group delivered a series of recommendations in December.
The council is due to tackle key land-use decisions in months ahead — something Milligan has said she finds appealing.
In addition to official duties, she also helped to organize a series of speeches from city and King County elected leaders during the 2009 campaign season.
Erik Olson is in the running to become the first Talus resident on the seven-member council.
“I’d like to preserve what the city has,” he said. “ I think it’s very important to ensure that we continue on a good path.”
The key to success for a council, he continued, is to present a unified front and for all members to embrace a policy after a decision. He credited the current council for a cordial relationship, even if members disagree.
Olson became a Boeing analyst after a career in the airline industry. Since settling in Talus, he has tracked municipal government through public access Channel 21.
“I feel very good about Issaquah and what Issaquah has to offer,” he said. “Mostly, I’ve gotten that same feedback from other people.”
Mary Lou Pauly
Mary Lou Pauly, a Development Commission member since 1994, has helped shape growth in Issaquah during a population boom. The commission reviews site-development and sign permits for large construction projects.
Pauly, a Canadian immigrant and Squak Mountain resident, received U.S. citizenship in 2008. Now, she can cast ballots in local elections — and serve on the council.
“There’s a variety of opinions and backgrounds on the council, which I think is very, very important,” she said. “I’m glad to hear that it’s just not one voice, one type of opinion.”
The former parent volunteer at Issaquah Middle and Issaquah High schools said she looked forward to the interview process.
“It sounds like some really talented and committed people have put their names in,” she said.
Nathan Perea emerged as a fresh-faced contender for a council seat in 2009. Tola Marts cruised to victory in the race. Perea parlayed the experience into other roles.
“When my campaign ended the last time, I wanted to make sure that I stayed engaged and stayed involved and got more experience,” he said.
Mayor Ava Frisinger appointed Perea to the Planning Policy Commission last May. The highlands resident also serves on the Urban Village Development Commission.
Perea and other planning commissioners started to tackle the Central Issaquah Plan — a landmark blueprint for redevelopment — last month.
“We’re actually able to start turning the pages on the proposal, and that’s what we’re doing at PPC. I think that’s going to be the paramount issue in the next year or so.”
Paul Winterstein is known in the community for efforts to improve access to services for the less fortunate and for advocating for more bicycle-friendly roads. The citizen activist sometimes turns up at council meetings to speak about both issues.
Winterstein serves on the Human Services Commission, the group responsible for advising the city administration about human services planning and funding. The group serves a key role in the effort to a human services campus — a clearinghouse for medical care, employment assistance and more — in Issaquah.
Beyond City Hall, the Squak Mountain resident helped bring the Tent City 4 homeless encampment to Issaquah in early 2010 and formed the Issaquah Bicycle Club last year to unite local bicyclists. Winterstein also managed Marts’ successful council campaign against Perea.
- Agenda: candidate interviews
- 7 p.m. March 1
- Council Chambers, City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way