City Council candidates, unopposed in election, outline goals for future
November 29, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Though most City Council seats appeared on the November ballot, voters faced a choice in a lone race — the contest between incumbent Joshua Schaer and challenger TJ Filley. (Schaer claimed a second term in a landslide.)
The other seats up for election did not attract challengers, so incumbents Fred Butler and Stacy Goodman, plus newcomer Paul Winterstein, coasted through campaign season. The next council is due to settle into office in early January.
Fred Butler sees ‘a lot of work to do’
Butler joined the council more than a decade ago and, in the years since, has led the organization and numerous council committees.
“I love what I do and I do it because I enjoy it. I enjoy the interaction with people, I like working with my colleagues on the council to try to make things a little bit better,” he said.
The retired U.S. Army colonel is a Sound Transit board member and a respected expert on transit and transportation in the Puget Sound region. Expect to hear more from Butler in the years ahead as the state Department of Transportation completes a study of Interstate 90 through Issaquah and Sound Transit starts mulling the eastward expansion of light rail.
In Issaquah, Butler plans to remain focused on economic development and the ongoing discussions about the Rowley Properties development agreement and Central Issaquah Plan — landmark proposals to remake a 915-acre business district along the interstate.
“How we blend both of those projects in with our natural beauty is an important component, how we blend it in with the environment and the mountains that surround Issaquah,” he said.
Expect questions from Butler about the transportation ideas outlined in the Central Issaquah Plan as the council delves into the proposal.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do and things to wrap up,” he said.
The longtime councilman also sees opportunity in the planned Bellevue College expansion to Issaquah and construction on downtown parks along Issaquah Creek.
“I want to continue to make Issaquah a place where people feel good about where they live,” he said. “I want to concentrate on planning for the future.”
Since he joined the council after the 1999 election, Issaquah ballooned by about 170 percent to 30,690 people. The population boom created challenges for city leaders. Butler said he looks forward to addressing growth- and transportation-related challenges in the years ahead.
“I understand that one council member does not do anything alone, but he does that by trying to come up with the best solution and the best ideas from everyone to make Issaquah a better place,” he said.
Stacy Goodman has a ‘finger on the pulse’
Goodman joined the council in March after a monthslong search to select a successor to Councilwoman Maureen McCarry.
In the end, the search pitted Goodman against Winterstein and, after some maneuvering, council members selected Goodman in a 4-2 decision.
Because Goodman joined the council a little more than a year into McCarry’s unfilled term, she ran to serve until December 2013, rather than a regular, four-year term.
Since joining the council, Goodman has advocated for the city to discuss possible options for Lake Sammamish State Park and steps to boost economic development in Issaquah.
“I really want to make a dent in our economic vitality. I think the Economic Vitality Commission — getting it established is one thing and then actually having it make a difference in the community is something that’s going to take a little while,” she said.
The council could establish a city Economic Vitality Commission next year to attract entrepreneurs to Issaquah and retain existing businesses.
“We would like to attract more business here and play ourselves up a little bit,” Goodman said.
Leaders discussed starting a dialogue about the future of the state park during a council goal-setting session in May. Goodman made the state park a priority as the cash-strapped agency responsible for the park seeks to generate dollars for upkeep.
Like other candidates for council seats, she said the Rowley Properties development agreement and Central Issaquah Plan proposals require additional study from elected leaders.
Goodman, a past reporter and editor for The Issaquah Press, said the past experience is useful as a council member.
“I’m glad I didn’t have to spend time learning where neighborhoods are, or knowing who the movers and the shakers are, or getting to know people at the city and knowing just the nuts and bolts of how things work around here, or why it’s important to recognize this interest group and that interest group,” she said. “I feel like I’ve had my finger on the pulse for awhile. Knowing the community as well as I do through my job at The Press is a huge asset.”
Paul Winterstein is ‘keenly aware’ of needs
Winterstein earned a seat on the council because Council President John Traeger opted against running for another term.
No other candidates stepped forward for the seat, so Winterstein has spent the months since the June filing deadline preparing to take office in January. The process includes attending city meetings and talking to constituents, as well as meeting city staff members and department chiefs.
“Most of my energy is going into getting myself ready for Day 1, getting familiar with the issues, especially those that I know are going to go into next year,” he said.
Winterstein said he intends to encourage more residents to join the conversation, especially as the city tackles the Central Issaquah Plan and other long-term issues in the years ahead.
“These are critical discussions that, frankly, too few people participate in,” he said. “Maybe we’re not doing them at the right time. Maybe we’re not promoting them. Maybe we’re not really getting the message out about what’s going on and why it’s critical to people. I certainly want to look at that as well.”
Winterstein, a city Human Services Commission member, supports the effort to open a human services campus in Issaquah, as well as ongoing efforts to fund nonprofit organizations dedicated to local needs.
“I’m proud of what our city has done to financially support, and give other kinds of support as well, to local agencies,” he said. “I want to continue to provide that support.”
The city spearheaded efforts to create a human services campus, although the proposal for such a facility is not yet defined.
“I’m very keenly aware of the need of people in Issaquah and the immediate area,” Winterstein said. “There are people, there’s a will and they’re looking for a way to bring that to Issaquah. I certainly support that.”
Ongoing discussions about economic development and transportation also shape Winterstein’s long-term plan for the city.
“How can we get ourselves on a path?” he said. “What is our plan to make sure that we are creating a legacy within Issaquah that our own children can adopt?”