Off the Press

November 15, 2011

Election comes to yawn-inducing close

Warren Kagarise Press reporter

Joshua Schaer promised a party to daughter Emily. Only, the grownups gathered in a room at the Issaquah Brewhouse almost certainly did not meet the expectations of a 3-year-old girl.

The election night party Schaer put on at the downtown pub included a star-studded — for Issaquah, at least — guest list (City Council members past and present) and hors d’oeuvres aplenty. Bruschetta, anyone?

But, as far as parties go, the event seemed a little dull, boring even. The host, however, is not to blame.

Election Day in Issaquah, at least in the 2009 and 2011 cycles, morphed into a humdrum affair. Incumbents claim lopsided leads and challengers offer cordial congratulations. Repeat.

The lone burst of results from King County Elections came just after 8 p.m., as guests at the brewhouse channel-surfed to see if Issaquah results appeared in the Seattle TV stations’ tickers. In a campaign season dominated by liquor and tolling, no local results appeared in the moments after the results dropped.

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City Council, Issaquah School Board incumbents post big leads

November 8, 2011

Joshua Schaer (right), calls his mother Nancy Schaer, of Redmond, to tell her about his lead in the Issaquah City Council race, as former Councilman David Kappler chats with other election night partygoers at the Issaquah Brewhouse. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 8:20 p.m. Nov. 8, 2011

Joshua Schaer, the only City Council member to face a challenger in a quiet campaign season, posted a sizable — and almost certainly insurmountable — lead against opponent TJ Filley as election results started to dribble out Tuesday night.

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Bill for Interstate 90 bridge reaches $6.7 million

November 1, 2011

The bill for the pedestrian and bicyclist connector across Interstate 90 is costing Issaquah $450,000 more than city leaders budgeted for the project.

City Administrator Bob Harrison (right) and Mayor Ava Frisinger lead Issaquah and regional officials across the Interstate 90 pedestrian bridge Oct. 26. By Greg Farrar

The total budget for the project is about $6.7 million, up from the $6.2 million set aside to complete the bridge across the interstate at state Route 900. The budget increase accommodates engineering expenses, construction cost and construction management cost increases, and legal and permitting fees related to the connector.

The change increases the amount of city dollars used in a project approved in part because the federal government and Sound Transit offered to cover substantial costs.

Construction delays and other issues — such as using off-duty police officers for traffic control near the construction site — caused costs to mount. The city set aside about $314,000 as contingency funds for the project, but the overruns caused the project to exhaust the backup dollars.

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Eastside transportation leaders oppose tolling initiative

October 25, 2011

Local elected officials on the Eastside Transportation Partnership agreed to oppose Initiative 1125, Tim Eyman’s tolling initiative, days before ballots started to reach voters.

I-1125 calls for the Legislature to approve tolls rather than the appointed state Transportation Commission. The initiative also aims to prohibit different toll rates for peak commute times and to require toll revenues to be put toward projects on the road being tolled.

On Oct. 14, less than a month before Election Day, Eastside Transportation Partnership members heard from Bellevue developer and I-1125 supporter Kemper Freeman and I-1125 opponents, former state Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald and Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett.

Then, members discussed the presentations and voted to oppose the initiative.

The partnership includes elected city and King County officials representing communities east of Lake Washington. The organization is focused on advocacy for regional transportation issues.

Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger and Councilman Joshua Schaer serve on the partnership. Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler, a Sound Transit board member, is the partnership’s Sound Transit representative.

Issaquah’s representative on the King County Council, Kathy Lambert, is another member. So, too, is King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Eastside transportation leaders oppose tolling initiative

October 20, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 20, 2011

Local elected officials on the Eastside Transportation Partnership agreed to oppose Initiative 1125, Tim Eyman’s tolling initiative, days before ballots started to reach voters.

I-1125 calls for the Legislature to approve tolls rather than the appointed state Transportation Commission. The initiative also aims to prohibit different toll rates for peak commute times and to require toll revenues to be put toward projects on the road being tolled.

On Oct. 14, Eastside Transportation Partnership members heard from Bellevue developer and 1-1125 supporter Kemper Freeman and I-1125 opponents, former state Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald and Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett.

Then, members discussed the presentations and voted to oppose the initiative.

In a recent guest column for The Issaquah Press, Eyman said, “I-1125 ensures accountability and transparency.”

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City could choose CleanScapes for garbage contract, dump Waste Management

October 18, 2011

Officials seek hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods

CleanScapes nudged out larger competitors and emerged as the No. 1 contender to haul Issaquah garbage due, in part, to offering curbside pickup for difficult-to-recycle items, such as batteries and light bulbs.

The city is seeking a garbage hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods. Waste Management is the predominant hauler in the city, but the current contract between Issaquah and the Houston-based company expires in June.

Seattle-based CleanScapes came out as the top candidate after city officials evaluated offers from both companies and another collector, Allied Waste — a local name for national company Republic Services.

City officials said a $3.8-million-per-year CleanScapes contract could mean lower rates for Issaquah customers, plus increased customer service and recycling options. The contract requires City Council approval.

If the CleanScapes contract is approved, a residential customer putting a 32-gallon cart out for weekly curbside pickup could see rates decrease from $13.43 to $12.74 — a 5.1 percent drop.

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Issaquah City Council, school board candidates gather at forum

October 18, 2011

Candidates for local and regional offices offered prescriptions for counteracting the ailing economy and educating a 21st-century workforce at a forum Oct. 13.

Candidates for positions on the Issaquah School Board laugh at a joke during a candidate forum Oct. 13 at the King County Library Service Center. By Greg Farrar

Organized by The Issaquah Press and moderated by Publisher Debbie Berto, the forum attracted candidates for City Council, Issaquah School Board and Port of Seattle Commission.

The candidates, gathered at the King County Library System headquarters in Issaquah, answered questions in 40-minute sections organized by office.

The forum occurred days before King County Elections mails ballots, and as many voters start to pay attention to the off-year election. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Though the majority of council seats is up for election, only a single seat is contested. In the lone contested race, challenger TJ Filley faces incumbent Councilman Joshua Schaer for the Position 4 seat.

Incumbent Councilman Fred Butler, appointed Councilwoman Stacy Goodman and candidate Paul Winterstein did not attract opponents for the other positions.

In a far-reaching discussion about municipal issues — transportation headaches, economic development, ongoing efforts to regulate a medical marijuana operations and more — Filley and Schaer stuck to usual themes from the campaign.

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Press Editorial

October 18, 2011

Schaer has earned another council term

The choice in Issaquah’s only contested City Council race is stark.

Incumbent Joshua Schaer articulates a clear vision for the future. Schaer has fashioned a reputation as a councilman unwilling to yield just for the sake of another unanimous vote. Such independence is valuable for a council member and even better for the citizens he represents.

Schaer also brings a broad understanding of the tiny details of city policy — a critical factor for elected officials as the council delves into the Central Issaquah Plan, a medical marijuana ordinance and other hefty issues in the year ahead.

Schaer deserves credit for pushing the first-on-the-Eastside food-packaging ordinance to ban Styrofoam takeout containers. In his second term, however, he needs to lead the charge to increase compliance with the ordinance.

Challenger TJ Filley initially built a single-issue campaign around the pedestrian bridge across Interstate 90 at state Route 900. Though Filley deserves praise for attracting attention to the late and over-budget project, the continued focus on the now-completed bridge is counterproductive.

Filley needs more local experience, while Schaer has earned a second term.

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City Council candidates TJ Filley, Joshua Schaer answer questions

October 18, 2011

Before returning ballots to meet the Nov. 8 deadline, review where Issaquah City Council and Issaquah School Board candidates stand on important issues.

Council candidates Joshua Schaer and TJ Filley answered questions about numerous issues facing Issaquah in the years ahead. (Answers had to be 25 words or less.) Schaer is seeking another term on the seven-member council. Filley is focusing on transportation issues in the campaign.

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Issaquah, Port of Seattle candidates answer questions

October 13, 2011

Councilman Fred Butler (right) answers a question as council candidates (from left) TJ Filley, Joshua Schaer, Stacy Goodman and Paul Winterstein listen during a candidate forum Thursday. By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 11:30 p.m. Oct. 13, 2011

Candidates for local and regional offices offered prescriptions for counteracting the ailing economy and educating a 21st-century workforce at a forum Thursday.

Organized by The Issaquah Press and moderated by Publisher Debbie Berto, the forum attracted candidates for City Council, Issaquah School Board and Port of Seattle Commission.

The candidates, gathered at the King County Library System headquarters in Issaquah, answered questions in 40-minute sections organized by race.

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