Kirkland deserves a City Council equal to the dramatic challenges an annexation measure on the November ballot would bring. The council in recent years gained a reputation for dithering and drama. No vision, no leadership, no focus.
THE November City Council election is an important moment for Kirkland, because the Eastside waterfront community cannot afford four more years of tension-filled stagnation.
Four races offer voters a solid combination of experience, civic commitment and a fresh outlook. The council needs an infusion of vision, energy and collegiality because the community faces challenges that will require hard work, not tinny local politics.
If voters in unincorporated Finn Hill, Juanita and Kingsgate wisely vote to annex in November, Kirkland would grow from 48,000 to 81,000 residents, with all the opportunities and obligations that come with such a leap in size.
A new Kirkland needs to embrace revitalization downtown and salvage the potential of Totem Lake, grabbed years ago as a sales-tax trophy. Kirkland is more than its picture-perfect waterfront. Dithering and dawdling the past four years looked inept as well as unimaginative.
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Kirkland needs new voices and ideas as the community looks ahead to next spring and the retirement of City Manager Dave Ramsay. That important hiring decision needs fresh eyes, and a council coherent enough to attract talented applicants.
Position 1 features two candidates but only one real choice, Joan McBride, who has three terms on the council. Her opponent is neither a serious candidate nor a credible option. McBride, who has served as deputy mayor, knows her way around topics from municipal finance to regional conservation.
Position 3 is an open seat with incumbent Mary-Alyce Burleigh not seeking re-election. We agree with the King County Municipal League, which rated candidate Penny Sweet outstanding. She knows Kirkland as a neighborhood association leader, a longtime business owner, and as the energy behind two popular community celebrations. The breadth and depth of her endorsements are also outstanding.
Her opponent is Brad Larssen, who points to years of service on behalf of labor, party politics and community activities. This is a season when the endorsement of the departing mayor might be a liability. Against another candidate, at another time, Larssen would be a competitive alternative.
The choice for Position 5 features the energy and fresh perspective Kirkland City Council needs. Amy Walen is confidently endorsed to replace Jim Lauinger, who did not seek re-election. Walen, who has a law degree and is controller and part-owner of Ford of Kirkland, will bring attention to detail to city budgets and an openness to new ideas.
Kirkland is mired in old attitudes and divisions between neighborhoods and downtown. Karen Tennyson has an extensive civic résumé, but the risk is she represents more of the same stymied, divisive politics at City Hall.
Position 7 represents an opportunity for an infusion of experience and demonstrated ability at a vital moment. Doreen Marchione is endorsed by seven former Kirkland mayors and won an outstanding rating from the King County Municipal League. She is the former CEO of Hopelink, the Eastside social-service agency, and before her long residence in Kirkland, she was mayor of Redmond.
Incumbent Tom Hodgson has not earned endorsement or the confidence his performance would improve with re-election.
Kirkland is poised to grow and needs to think not only about its own community issues, but also prepare to step up to an active regional presence. Voters have an opportunity for a fresh start with Joan McBride, Penny Sweet, Amy Walen and Doreen Marchione.