Attorney General Rob McKenna challenges businesses to innovate

November 16, 2010

Enlisting the political magnetism of state Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce kicked off a three-month program focused on innovation Oct. 27.

Throughout his local talk, McKenna focused on the necessity of innovation, locally, statewide and nationally, before he answered questions about his talk.

He praised Issaquah companies, like Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, Democracy Live, Restorix/Innovative Health and SearchMarketMe, for their innovation, and congratulated the city for attracting Dataram Corp., a manufacturer of computer memory, storage products and software. Dataram announced last week it would open a development and testing facility in Issaquah.

“Now, why did they decide to come here for their testing and development?” McKenna asked. “Simple, they said, because there is a rich technology talent pool and a welcoming business climate.”

As about 60 chamber members lunched on chicken salad and iced tea at the Hilton Garden Inn in Issaquah, chamber Chairman Chris Hysom introduced McKenna, the 17th attorney general to serve Washington. Voters elected McKenna, a former King County councilman, in 2004 and again in 2008. McKenna is considered a potential Republican candidate for governor in 2012.

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Attorney General Rob McKenna challenges businesses to innovate

October 29, 2010

State Attorney General Rob McKenna answers questions from audience members at an Issaquah Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday. By Laura Geggel

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 29, 2010

Enlisting the political magnetism of state Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce kicked off a three-month program focused on innovation Oct. 27.

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Salmon Days named top festival in Washington

March 16, 2010

For the second consecutive year, the Salmon Days Festival reeled in — pardon the puns — a boatload of awards, including the top festival honor in the state, event organizers announced last week. Read more

Salmon Days earns top festival honor in state

March 9, 2010

NEW — 2:59 p.m. March 9, 2010

For the second consecutive year, the Salmon Days Festival won the top festival honor in the state, event organizers announced Tuesday.

Salmon Days earned eight Summit Awards from the Washington Festivals and Events Association, a group dedicated to promoting activities throughout the Evergreen State. The group named honorees at a conference held in Seaside, Ore.

The festival hauled in a first-place Gold Summit Award in the highest category at the conference: Best Overall Promotional Campaign. Honorees receive the award for outstanding promotion, including marketing, media and merchandizing.

In all, Salmon Days received four first-place Gold Summit Awards, two second-place Silver Summit Awards and two third-place Bronze Summit Awards within the $150,000 and more budget category.

Organizers emphasized the long history of Salmon Days with the 2009 event theme — “Celebrating 40 Years of Great Returns. Still fresh. Still fun. Still free.”

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Vision for highlands will be focus as City Council debates gas station

December 15, 2009

A proposal to allow a gas station in the Issaquah Highlands has become the latest flashpoint in the ongoing debate about how development in the hillside community measures up to the vision offered by the developer and the city.

The dispute centers on a revision to the development agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station to be constructed in the community. Supporters said highlands residents want a gas station for convenience and safety, when severe weather occurs and residents need fuel. Detractors argued that a gas station would be a poor fit for a community billed as “green” and pedestrian-friendly.

The amendment would overhaul the development pact between the city and Port Blakely to allow gas stations in the decade-old community. The revision includes tight language to limit what developers and operators could do with the property.

Besides gasoline, the operator would be required to offer at least one alternative fuel and three electric-vehicle charging stations. The agreement also requires the building to meet eco-friendly building standards and utilize photovoltaic panels or wind turbines to generate at least some energy for the facility. The features are part of the “energy station” concept advanced by Port Blakely executives.

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Vision for Issaquah Highlands will be focus as council debates gas station

December 15, 2009

UPDATED — 9:15 a.m. Dec. 15, 2009

A proposal to allow a gas station in the Issaquah Highlands has become the latest flashpoint in the ongoing debate about how development in the hillside community measures up to the vision offered by the developer and the city.

The dispute centers on a revision to the development agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities to allow a gas station to be constructed in the community. Supporters said highlands residents want a gas station for convenience and safety, when severe weather occurs and residents need fuel. Detractors argued a gas station would be a poor fit for a community billed as “green” and pedestrian-friendly.

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Candidates fill coffers despite down economy

November 3, 2009

With phone calls, e-mail blasts and old-fashioned glad-handing, Issaquah city and schools candidates tapped a wide network of donors for cash to keep campaigns cruising ahead.

Despite a tough economy and the number of unopposed races on the city ballot, candidates had outpaced the amount spent on city races in 2007. During the last election cycle — when nine candidates appeared on the ballot in the August primary and seven candidates went on to the general election — challengers raised $32,505. Contrast the total with 2009, when no primary election was needed and eight candidates pulled in more than $58,000 by the last week in October, according to filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Despite the economic downturn, most candidates said the recession had not limited donors’ ability to give.

“The economy has put a ding in a lot of races,” City Council candidate Joan Probala said.

But Probala, who faced incumbent Maureen McCarry, said she had no trouble fundraising. Probala said she was pleased with the amount raised by her campaign: $17,752 by the end of October.

McCarry had raised more by the end of October — $11,509 — than the $10,230 she mustered four years ago, when she was locked in a tight race with Bill Conley. But the City Council incumbent said asking for money had become difficult amid the recession.

“There are higher priorities in people’s lives right now, and I respect that,” McCarry said.

Candidate Nathan Perea tapped into a broad group of donors because he “reached out to so many families and close friends,” he said. He had raised $8,273 by the end of last month.

Perea squared off against another newcomer, Tola Marts, for the Position 7 council seat. Marts said he employed a similar strategy to rake in $5,461 by the end of October, according to campaign filings.

“I have a really strong set of supporters,” Marts said.

Dash for cash

City candidates also worked to secure more donations to reach big numbers, due to a new campaign finance rule — the first limit to campaign contributions in Issaquah history.

With the start of campaign season two weeks away, the City Council voted in mid-May to limit Issaquah campaign contributions. The cap limits donations to $500 from a single party and includes both cash and in-kind donations in the total. Enforcement fell to city Code Compliance Officer Michele Forkner.

She said no complaints have been filed under the new ordinance. But several donors skirted the cap by giving to candidates already in the race before June 1, when the limit went into effect.

Mayor Ava Frisinger, who will be re-elected unopposed, netted $7,795 in cash and in-kind donations. Most of the contributions to the Frisinger campaign poured in before the filing period closed in June without a candidate challenging the mayor.

Unopposed City Council candidates, incumbent Eileen Barber and newcomer Mark Mullet, also pulled in donations. Barber pulled in $1,998 before the candidate-filing period ended. Mullet has raised $5,445, according to campaign filings.

Probala, who entered the race in late February, pulled in $1,000 from the Seattle King County Association of Realtors before the contribution limit went into effect.

Probala, a real estate agent, also received contributions from a political action committee, the Realtors Quality of Life PAC, a real estate organization based in Olympia. Her campaign drew $5,936 worth of independent support last month from organizations. The contributions were used for campaign mailers and newspaper ads, according to campaign filings.

Outside spending from the Affordable Housing Council was used to support Perea and Probala. The organization — the political arm of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties — spent $1,600 each on the Perea and Probala campaigns to call voters.

City candidates each hosted a few receptions to raise money, and made pitches for campaign dollars through the Web. Candidates shelled out for big-ticket items, such as hundreds of yard signs, Web site design services and campaign mailers.

Probala, who raised more than any other city candidate, also spent the most: $14,191. Her campaign spent $1,731.23 for mailers, $1,138.20 for yard signs and $954 for newspaper advertising.

McCarry directed $7,241 to her re-election bid. She spent $2,727 for newspaper ads, $4,621.15 for campaign mailers and $1,215 for her campaign Web site.

Perea dropped $7,654 in the Position 7 contest. He outspent opponent Marts, who funneled $3,684 to his campaign.

Perea splurged on $1,095 for campaign signs, $1,000 for campaign consulting and Web site design, and $877.10 to print campaign materials.

Marts spent a total of $1,078.61 for campaign mailers and another $683.28 for yard signs. The largest single expense for the Marts campaign was $715 for a newspaper ad.

Mini-campaigns, big bills

Marnie Maraldo and Wright Noel, vying for the school board Director District No. 2 seat, opted for a different tactic: the so-called mini-campaign, a pact to limit fundraising and spending to $5,000.

The total includes loans from a candidate to his or her campaign. Contributions from a single donor cannot exceed $500. If a candidate breaks the mini-campaign rules, he or she must file a weekly disclosure report with the PDC. Maraldo and Noel did not break the $5,000 limit.

The schools candidates said the format allowed them more time to focus on issues.

“I’ve spent most of my time talking about the issues, rather than going out and trying to get money from people,” Noel said. “So, it has been nice, in that sense, since I haven’t had to be concerned about raising a lot of money.”

Maraldo said she and her husband, Tony, loaned the campaign about $2,500 at the beginning. Since she started fundraising during the summer, about $2,200 has flowed to the campaign, she said.

Maraldo estimated half of the donations were made through her campaign Web site. The other half, she said, was made through mailed contributions.

Major donors to the Maraldo campaign included local unions, education advocate Leigh Stokes and state Rep. Marcie Maxwell, a Renton Democrat who represents Newcastle, where Maraldo lives. The largest donations were about $200 each, Maraldo said.

Maraldo said most of money, $1,773.90, went toward campaign signs. Maraldo also had a campaign manager for a short stint, a $750 expense.

The campaign had about $1,500 less than two weeks before Election Day, and Maraldo said she would likely be able to reimburse about $1,000 of her loan to her campaign.

Noel said he has raised $1,455 in outside contributions for his campaign, using the same formula as Maraldo. He loaned the campaign about $1,000 to launch the effort. About half of the donations he collected were funneled through his Web site, and the other half was sent via mail.

“Even $10 is a huge statement of their support,” Noel said. “Does it make a difference? Yes. I wouldn’t have been able to get the signs out.”

Noel had spent $1,274 with less than two weeks until the election, with campaign signs as the largest expense. The campaign also paid for materials to make stress balls — flour and balloons with Noel’s name on them — and campaign buttons, and ingredients to bake homemade cookies.

After Noel reimburses the original loan, the campaign account will have a balance of about $200, Noel said.

Noel said the largest contribution to his campaign was about $200. Most of the donations, however, were between $10 and $50, he said.

“There has been a lot of little donations, which has been hugely appreciated,” he said.

Despite a tough economy and a new $500 cap in city races, City Council candidates raised impressive amounts in the sprint toward Election Day. Here are some of the top donors in Issaquah races:

City Council, Position 5

Maureen McCarry

Connie Marsh: $500

Chris Hysom: $500

Washington Conservation Voters: $450

Joan Probala

Seattle King County Association of Realtors: $1,000

Bill Conley: $501

Eastside Business Alliance: $500

Donations above the $500 limit were made before the cap went into effect June 1.

City Council, Position 7

Nathan Perea

Eastside Business Alliance: $500

Rowley Properties: $500

Washington Association of Realtors: $500

Tola Marts

Councilman John Rittenhouse: $350

Council President Maureen McCarry: $250

41st District Democrats: $250

School Board, Director District No. 2

Marnie Maraldo and Wright Noel opted to use so-called mini-campaigns, which limit the total raised and spent on a campaign to $5,000. Candidates who chose mini-campaigns do not have to file a weekly report with the Public Disclosure Commission.

Source: Public Disclosure Commission

By Warren Kagarise and Chantelle Lusebrink

Vista Park opens in Issaquah Highlands

June 9, 2009

Vista Park, in the Issaquah Highlands, includes playground equipment, a grass strip with walking paths and benches affording a view toward Seattle.  By Greg Farrar

Vista Park, in the Issaquah Highlands, includes playground equipment, a grass strip with walking paths and benches affording a view toward Seattle. By Greg Farrar

Residents in the Vista Park subdivision of the Issaquah Highlands now have a park to call their own.

The narrow, 1-acre park is shoehorned between houses in the 1800 block of 10th Avenue Northeast. The park features a grass volleyball court, a children’s playground area and a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains.

“It’s great to have an area with some grass,” said Michael Hanley, who lives a few blocks away. “The playground area will come in handy when my 3-year-old niece comes to visit.”

Port Blakely Communities, developer of the Issaquah Highlands, built Vista Park at a cost of $200,000. Read more

City Council votes to extend height limit on land near park & ride

May 26, 2009

Officials took steps last week to allow new construction in the Issaquah Highlands: taller buildings near the Highlands Drive Park & Ride and a gas station. Read more