Fred Butler launches campaign for Issaquah mayor

January 17, 2013

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 p.m. Jan. 17, 2013

Fred Butler, a City Council stalwart for 13 years and a voice in important debates about the future of Issaquah, entered the race for mayor Thursday.

Fred Butler

Fred Butler

The contest could hinge on the vision for the decades ahead, as city leaders seek to position Issaquah for redevelopment and attract more jobs to the community.

Butler, 72, served on the council at major junctures in recent history, as members debated the defunct Southeast Bypass road link, how to preserve forested Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain, and late last year, a 30-year redevelopment blueprint called the Central Issaquah Plan.

“We are in the process of evolving from a small town to a small city, moving from suburban to urban,” he said in a Thursday interview. “Because I’ve been involved in a lot of the planning and the development of the urban villages and the Central Issaquah Plan, I believe I’m in a pretty good position to help implement the direction that we are going in.”

Butler said the decision to run for mayor is rooted in a lifetime of public service, initially as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer colonel and, as a civilian, chief engineer for Seattle City Light, and later in elected office.

“You’ve got to want to do it,” he said. “You’ve got to feel like you’re making a contribution and you’re making a difference.”

In 1999, as a then-novice candidate, he ran and won a council seat. The electorate chose Butler again in 2003, 2007 and most recently in 2011. Other council members elected Butler to the top spot, council president, in a unanimous decision Jan. 7.

The 23-year city resident and wife Rosemarie live in a Squak Mountain neighborhood.

Butler is the only candidate for mayor so far, although the announcement could prompt other candidates to enter the race. Election Day is Nov. 5 and the deadline for candidates to file for election is in May.

The incumbent mayor, Ava Frisinger, is not expected to seek a fifth term in the job. The last time she ran for re-election — unopposed in 2009 — she said she did not plan to run again in 2013.

Without Frisinger on the ballot, Issaquah is poised for a dramatic shift at City Hall.

Voters elected Frisinger in 1997, and she led Issaquah through monumental change — a construction boom in the hillside urban villages, annexations, and a population explosion from about 10,000 residents in 1997 to more than 31,000 residents nowadays.

Frisinger also raised the city’s profile throughout the Puget Sound region — a legacy Butler said should continue.

“I would like to think that I’ve developed a reputation as someone that can look after the interests of my own jurisdiction, Issaquah, but take a regional approach to helping to solve the problems,” he said.

Butler serves in regional roles, on the boards for Sound Transit and the Cascade Water Alliance, and as a representative on the King County Regional Transit Committee and the Eastside Transportation Partnership.

“What it does, it provides an opportunity to learn from those people some things that have direct applications to our own city,” he said. “There are good ideas and good things happening all over the Puget Sound region.”

The candidate, a respected authority on transit issues, served in 2010 on a regional effort to reshape King County Metro Transit service. King County Executive-elect Dow Constantine tapped Butler to serve on the transition team as Constantine shifted ascended to the top county office in 2009.

“You’ve got the opportunity to see things that have worked very, very well that are directly translatable to Issaquah and some things that perhaps haven’t worked too well that you want to stay away from, so that you don’t make the same mistakes,” Butler said.

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4 Responses to “Fred Butler launches campaign for Issaquah mayor”

  1. jeffr on January 18th, 2013 9:16 am

    ok fred! we’ve had lots of growth and perhaps the mayor race could be a mandate on continued growth plan or a rejection of it – if there is another candidate for the job. fred has done a good job representing issaquah in the region and would be tough to find somebody to fill those shoes if he becomes mayor and has to do all those mayor things – who will represent us in the region, the lobbyist we hired? ieeew….

  2. Smoley on January 18th, 2013 10:03 am

    “We are in the process of evolving from a small town to a small city, moving from suburban to urban,” he said in a Thursday interview. “

    This may come as a surprise to you Mr. Butler, but there are a lot of us that don’t want Issaquah to turn into an urban area. That’s Bellevue. We don’t want to be Bellevue and the fact that we’re not an urban area is one of the reasons why we decided to live here.

    Why is it that politicians continually want to grow, grow, grow the size of their small cities? This doesn’t improve the quality of life in a city. Adding more people to a small city like Issaquah increases traffic, overtaxes our water/sewer/power infrastructure, degrades the environment, increases crime rates, all of which can lower property values. How is that ever a good thing for the existing citizens of Issaquah?

    Anyone running for public office isn’t going to get my vote as long as they have a “bigger is better” pro-urban mindset for our town.

  3. IssyResident on January 20th, 2013 10:24 am

    +1 to the ‘bigger isn’t better’ crowd. The CIP is a disaster for existing residents- only the developers win. It includes no plans to address increased traffic or increasing school capacity and nearly eliminates public input on future development. Our leaders have forgetten that they were elected to represent the citizens of Issaquah, not enable the enrichment of developers.

  4. Benjamin on January 21st, 2013 2:50 pm

    I completely agree with the comments above. Looking over the past decade of 300% population growth in Issaquah, I would call that a disaster!
    Issaquah *used to* be a great place to live, but with our mayor and city council’s endless pro-growth agenda, driven primarily by developers and business interests, Issaquah is quickly becoming just another overcrowded, traffic-gridlocked wasteland. Everyday examples: Do you enjoy your bumper-to-bumper morning commute? Do you enjoy shopping with tens of thousands of new residents at Costco on the weekends? Do you enjoy overcrowding and waiting in line for everything? Do you like the beatiful vistas on the Issaquah Highlands rapidly being razed in favor of monstrous grey cinderblock shopping centers? What a nightmare… These endless-development, infinite-growth advocates are destoying precisely what made Issaquah beautiful in the past. (Clean air, beautiful views, reasonable traffic flows, reasonable residential population density, etc.)

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