Snohomish County Executive candidate Mike Hope had the stage to himself Thursday night when he spoke at Edmonds Community College, and he took full advantage of the opportunity to reach local voters who may not be familiar with his role as a 44th District State Representative.
Hope, a Republican who works as a Seattle police officer, likes his chances for displacing incumbent Democrat Aaron Reardon. The Lake Stevens resident told the group of about 100 people attending the taping for the “Civic Engagement” public affairs show at Edmonds’ Black Box Theatre that his focus on jobs creation and his reputation for bipartisan problem solving would serve him well in the county executive’s office. Reardon said he was unable to attend the forum due to a scheduling conflict.
Citing past conflicts between Reardon and the Snohomish County Council, Hope noted that he is known in the Legislature for moving beyond politics to move issues forward. As an example of “the difference between me and Aaron Reardon,” he cited his work with newly elected Democratic State Rep. David Frockt of North Seattle to explore opportunities for returning a professional basketball team to Seattle. “To me, it’s about building relationships,” Hope said.
“We hear about butting heads all the time,” Hope said. “There’s clearly some personality conflicts that exist at the county level. I don’t really know what the root cause of that is, but that’s not how I do business.”
On the subject of jobs creation, Hope discussed his detailed five-point plan — posted on his website — aimed at addressing Snohomish County’s 10-percent unemployment rate, which is higher than the state average. He proposed creating an office of Regional Collaboration so that the county and cities can work togther to create an economic development strategy.
He also wants to focus “keeping our work force here at home” by bringing more jobs to Snohomish County. Currently, 41 percent of Snohomish County residents leave the county to work elsewhere, Hope said, up from 31 percent in 2007.
In addition to answering questions from forum host and Edmonds City Councilmember DJ Wilson, Hope also took questions from the audience. Two attendees from Shoreline expressed their concerns about the effects of a Snohomish County decision regarding Point Wells, a 61-acre site in the Town of Woodway where a large mixed-use development has been proposed.
Although Point Wells is in Snohomish County, the only access to it is by a narrow, two-lane road, Richmond Beach Drive, which is in King County. Project opponents contend that traffic from the multiuse village would ruin Shoreline residents’ quality of life by clogging the streets.
The Snohomish County Council earlier this year approved the site as an urban center, which opened the door for the site developer to obtain a permit for the project. However, the state’s Growth Management Board in April ruled that urban center designation was not in keeping with the county’s own urban center definition, outlined in its Comprehensive Plan, or guided by Growth Management Act goals. The Town of Woodway has also filed a lawsuit against Snohomish County and the developer to stop the project.
Hope said the proposal clearly violated the Growth Management Act and that if he were County Executive, he wouldn’t support the project.
Note: The full “Civic Engagement” broadcast with Hope will be aired on Channel 21/26 starting in the next week or so. We’ll keep you posted on the schedule when it’s available.