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Snohomish Council Pos. 7 has three prominent contenders
Questions answered

From left to right:
Incumbent Steve Dana, Tabitha Baty and Karen Guzak

SNOHOMISH — Two former mayors and the head of the group Snohomish for Equity are challenging each other for a council seat. The August primary will narrow the field by one.
Running for City Council Position 7 are incumbent Steve Dana, Tabitha Baty and Karen Guzak.
Baty is the fresh one on the block, making her first run for office. Locally, she is the president of the group Snohomish for Equity, which focuses on issues of racism and inclusion.
Guzak and Dana both have had stints as the city’s mayor-in-title, which until 2017 was a ceremonial position as head of the City Council.
In 2017, the city switched to a “strong mayor” format where the mayor has executive power. Guzak ran for that strong mayor role, but was edged out by John Kartak.
Guzak bowed from the council in 2019 after three consecutive terms, and is also a small business owner.
Dana also has three terms on council under his belt. He points out that he’s served the city in various capacities for 30-plus years via the planning commission and other city boards while off council.
Ballots started arriving in mailboxes late last week.
The Tribune asked five questions to each and is reprinting their answers.

Q) What are the city’s largest priorities right now?

  1. Complete the contract with the Sheriff’s office for police services.  2. Move forward with engineering and construction of the East side sewer interceptor to facilitate growth north of Blackman Lake. 3. Lay the groundwork for economic development out 10 and 20 years like the Mid-town planning area. 4. Work with property owners in the Terrace Ave neighborhood to develop solutions for traffic and safety.

Baty:  In my purview the largest priority for our city right now is recovering from the last year and half.  While the city budget remains solid the impact of the pandemic and the events of May 31st, 2020, have been significant to our community.  Our number one priority should be repairing the divide created and reclaiming our reputation as a welcoming community.

Guzak:  Our priorities are, as they have been for many years, dealing with issues around how we handle our desired growth in ways that are compatible with our strategic goals of “Preserving our History and Promoting our Vitality”.
Finding balance, and encouraging more compatible investment in our city is the challenge of our elected officials. We do this through thoughtful planning and appropriate zoning — with an eye to our future economic needs and with a commitment to maintaining our small town aesthetics.

Q) Yes or no: Should the city council reduce speeds to 20 mph across a wide, uniform area of Snohomish? Why?

  Traffic speeds can be reduced on non-arterial local streets.  Arterial street speeds should stay at current posted speeds. Establishing consistent criteria for arterial streets is essential.

Baty:  No, I do not believe a uniform change is the route to go.  There are areas where this reduction makes sense for safety reasons, but a blanket uniform change does not account for the individual specifics.

Guzak:  I think this is a worthy goal, as there is a great deal of evidence that lower speed limits are significantly safer for pedestrians. As we want to promote growth that encourages more pedestrian traffic we need to be mindful...always....of safety. And, we need to implement this in phases, to allow for more acceptance of these changes.

Q)  Yes or no: Should the city rezone any areas currently zoned for just single neighborhood houses to allow larger, multi-family developments?

Dana:  Short answer, NO.  Our city chose single family development with small lots as a means of achieving state mandated population growth and density.  The foundation of our development plans was 60% single family and 40% various multi-family densities.  Property values are heavily driven by neighborhood configurations.  Placement of multifamily developments should be determined by a public process through the planning commission.

Baty:  Yes, growth is inevitable as we are seeing it everywhere.  We can determine our own path on what that looks like in our city by getting ahead of it and zoning it in ways that make sense for our community.  Having multiple housing options will allow generations of families to live in the same city with different housing needs.

Guzak:  Generally, I’m in favor of more density in urban areas where we have services to support an increase in population. However, we need to carefully consider appropriate places in our city to allow for more multi-family and affordable developments. This needs to occur close to bus lines and support services.  Currently, we encourage more Accessory Dwelling Units in single family zones..... a form of increasing density that does not disturb the fabric of single family zoning. Other options, such as cottage housing and smaller lot sizes should be considered in appropriate places in our city.

Q)  Yes or no: Should the city continue to pursue the Second Street Corridor plan? Why?

Dana:  I’m ambivalent about the Second Street plan.  If the property owners can agree that it’s the right thing to do because it’s good for their businesses, I would support it.  I would be reluctant to inflict my will on them since I have no skin in the game.  If pedestrian safety is the priority, there are other measures that work for a much lower price tag.

Baty:  Yes, I think continuing down the path of creating change for Second Street is something we should pursue.  This will depend on us having the means to do so, which may become clear after the vote on the TBD renewal.

Guzak:  This plan has great merit, and was carefully considered over many months by our consultants and by Council.  The primary benefits are for safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars. The secondary important benefits are aesthetic: more street trees, better street lighting, more attractive cross-walks, and a significant upgrade to infrastructure on this major thoroughfare in our city. The challenge will be to find funding for this project, and we may need to do portions over time.

Q) What is your No. 1 goal you hope to see for Snohomish’s near-term future through being on the City Council?

Dana:  Securing the economic future for our city is always my first priority.  In all the years of my council service setting the stage for private sector investment is constantly on my mind.  The size and shape of our Urban Growth Area, proactive annexation promotion, building infrastructure today for tomorrow’s development, conservative budgeting and adopting policies that encourage creative development are examples.

Baty:  Unity in community and restoring trust in city leadership.  Transparency, accountability, and a willingness to have challenging conversations as city leadership is the number one goal for me.  We cannot make the necessary changes to policies or city needs if we cannot clearly and professionally communicate with one another.  

Guzak:  I am committed to notching up our city’s commitment to the health, safety, and happiness of our residents. This manifests at multiple levels both public and private. Council can set priorities and assign budgets to accomplish goals. Principally, we need to be cognizant of the threats of the Climate Crisis, and work to mitigate these changes. A relatively simple next step is to plant more trees and make our city a part of the Tree City Program. Then, broadening our scope to accomplish more energy efficiency throughout the city.



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