Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke has earned the Times endorsement with her leadership during her tenure, including reducing crime and empowering neighborhoods. As mayor and former state lawmaker, she is best position her to respond to the risk of flooding caused by the damaged Howard Hanson dam.

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WHEN Suzette Cooke was elected Kent’s mayor in 2005, she took over a city on the rise. Downtown was invigorated by the opening of Kent Station and the possibility of more development that would link the new shopping center to a welcoming old downtown.

Cooke built on the good work of longtime mayor Jim White with projects like the ShoWare Center and the hiring of a new police chief. She also delivered on campaign promises to reduce crime and empower the neighborhoods. Cooke is endorsed by The Seattle Times for another term.

Her opponent, Jim Berrios, is equally passionate about Kent. He has an interesting résumé as a restaurant owner and current president of the Kent School Board. Even so, he is not ready to lead a city that should surpass 100,000 residents with potential annexations. His criticism of Cooke has been clumsy and hard to follow.

Kent is a city facing a real and immediate threat from flooding. The Green River cuts through the heart of Kent, putting residents, businesses and local and regional governmental operations at risk.

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The potential for flooding is great because of damage done to the Howard Hanson Dam last winter. The Army Corps of Engineers might be forced to release water during this rainy season to relive pressure on the dam. Because of the flood threat to Kent, the associated risks have become a priority for the next mayor.

Cooke is better positioned to help Kent deal with flooding than Berrios. Her experience as a state representative, former executive of the Kent and Renton chambers of commerce and her many political connections on the federal, state and local level put Kent in a position to act quickly when the waters come and recede. She has already been working with residents and businesses to prepare for flooding.

Kent is lucky to have an experienced mayor in a time of such uncertainty. Vote Cooke for mayor.

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