In council election shakeup, John Traeger is out, Paul Winterstein is in
April 29, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 7:45 a.m. April 29, 2011
The race for another City Council seat launched Thursday night, as John Traeger opted not to run for re-election and Human Services Commission Chairman Paul Winterstein announced plans to campaign for the seat.
Traeger, elevated to the council in 2007, decided to step down after a single term. Since early 2010, the Squak Mountain resident has served as council president, the top spot on the board.
“With my term on council such a personally rewarding experience, it was a difficult decision to return to private life,” he said in a statement released Thursday night.
The council president also endorsed Winterstein in the race for the Position 6 seat.
“Through his work as chair of the city’s Human Services Commission, advocacy for transportation options, and continuous outreach to and volunteering with local aid groups, Paul has been a tireless contributor to our community,” Traeger said.
Winterstein is making another bid for a seat on the council after reaching the final round in the process to fill former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry’s seat.
In March, the council deadlocked on the choice between Winterstein and another candidate. In the end, the council selected attorney Stacy Goodman after Councilman Joshua Schaer shifted support from Winterstein to Goodman.
“Paul, I hope that you run for office,” Schaer said then. “I just hope it’s not against me.”
(Schaer is running for re-election to the Position 4 seat.)
Traeger and Councilman Tola Marts supported Winterstein in both balloting rounds. Winterstein served as Marts’ campaign manager during the 2009 council election.
Winterstein joined the Human Services Commission in 2007. The all-volunteer panel advises the city administration about human services planning and funding. Under Winterstein, the commission steered more than $650,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations.
The candidate’s focus on human services extends beyond City Hall. Winterstein has served as a volunteer coordinator for the Issaquah Meals Program since 1992, and acted as a leader in the effort to bring Tent City 4 to Issaquah last year and in 2007.
In addition, he spearheaded efforts to advocate for bus service on Squak Mountain and organized the Issaquah Bicycle Club to unite area bicyclists. The director of product management for Noetix Corp., a Redmond software company, also serves on the Issaquah Mountain Bike Task Force, a city-led group formed to study opportunities for mountain bikers and determine mountain biking needs in the community.
“As a member of the City Council I will focus my energies on bringing people into the process of good government to assure that the outcomes are fair, feasible and truly in the best interest of Issaquah,” he said in a statement released Thursday night.
Traeger and Winterstein released the announcements moments apart in email messages to journalists and supporters.
Traeger served on the Development Commission for a dozen years before joining the council. In the years since, the council helped preserve the forested Park Pointe site near Issaquah High School, trimmed spending to account for the recession and ended plans for the Southeast Bypass roadway across Tiger Mountain — tasks Traeger highlighted as accomplishments.
“I’m proud that the first major vote I cast as a council member was to stop the Southeast Bypass project,” he said. “In retrospect, the costs would have left us poorly situated to deal with the national recession that followed.”
Traeger and former Councilman David Kappler attracted criticism in 2007, after the candidates filed to run for the same seat. Then, at the last minute, Kappler pulled out of the race for the Position 6 seat and filed for another post. The maneuver left Traeger as the sole candidate for the Position 6 seat. (Members serve at large and represent the entire city, rather than specific neighborhoods or defined geographic areas.)
Kappler later defeated another challenger to remain on the council until December 2009.
Winterstein joins a burgeoning candidate field in the race for council seats. Councilman Fred Butler, Schaer and Goodman all announced plans to run in recent months.
Candidates must file to run in Issaquah and other races by June 10.