Back in the late 1950s, a couple of years after Medina incorporated, Lucius Biglow Jr. was a young resident serving on the Planning Commission...
Back in the late 1950s, a couple of years after Medina incorporated, Lucius Biglow Jr. was a young resident serving on the Planning Commission that created the city’s first comprehensive plan.
Now 80, he said watching the City Council debate a controversial dog-leash plan last year persuaded him he needed to return to city politics.
Council members fought among themselves and ignored comments from him and other residents, Biglow said. So during the summer, he was one of two people who filed to replace Mayor Mary Odermat, who’s not running for re-election.
“When [my wife and I] came to Medina, it was simpler and I think kinder and gentler,” Biglow said. “I’d like to see a return to that.”
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Council members Robert Rudolph and Drew Blazey, who are running for re-election, said the council could improve its communication. Four of the six other candidates had stronger words and said the council is too contentious and disconnected from residents.
“We could do a better job talking amongst ourselves and getting the issues out in the open … ” Blazey said.
Occupation: General manager of sales business
Family: Married, a grown son and daughter
Background: Former board president of Overlake Service League, Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, Young ACT Theater and Seattle Junior Theater
Robert Rudolph, 69
Occupation: Retired medical oncologist
Family: Married, one grown daughter
Background: City Council member since 2002, former clinical professor at University of Washington, former president of Washington division of American Cancer Society, president of Eastside Citizens Against Aircraft Noise
Position 3 Lucius Biglow Jr., 80
Occupation: Retired attorney
Family: Married, three grown sons and grown daughter
Background: Former Planning Commission member, 1950s; former partner at Perkins Coie law firm; former staff attorney at Puget Power
Tim O’Brien, 47
Occupation: Real-estate agent
Family: Married, two daughters
Background: Co-president of Medina Elementary PTA, volunteer for program that donates old cellphones for charity
Position 5 Drew Blazey, 55
Occupation: Administrator at Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Seattle
Family: Married, two grown sons
Background: City Council member since 2002; former colonel in Air National Guard; former member, Washington State Substance Abuse Coalition
Bret Jordan, 38
Occupation: Owner of commercial real-estate services company
Family: Married, a daughter and son
Background: Planning Commission member since 2003; co-chair, Medina Days; member of city emergency preparedness committee; former reserve officer, Oregon City Police Department
Position 7 Patrick Boyd, 46
Occupation: Software consultant
Family: Married, a daughter and son
Background: Winner of “Golden Acorn Award” for outstanding member of Medina Elementary PTA, volunteer at Chinook Middle School, member of Bellevue High School PTA, former vice president of Internet company that relocated from Jerusalem to Chicago
Jim Lawrence, 58
Occupation: Treasurer of shipping company
Family: Widowed, two grown daughters
Background: Former City Council member, 2000-02; Planning Commission member, 1996-2000, 2002-present; former board member, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Eastside YMCA
The candidates — eight in all — say they want to protect Medina as much as possible from the impacts of an expanded Highway 520, which runs through the city on the eastern shore of Lake Washington. And many of the candidates pointed out that they intend to preserve the small-town, almost rural feel of the city.
But they differ on many other issues, including how the city should spend its multimillion-dollar budget, the city’s building-permit process and whether the council made the right choices in a couple of canine-related issues.
Barbara Quinn has spent more than three decades on the board of various Seattle-area nonprofit groups, including a recent stint as president of Overlake Service League. Politics is something new, she says, but she’s throwing herself into the new arena.
She plans to call every one of the city’s 2,000 eligible voters over the next several weeks. She calls herself a “blank slate” who is “not against any issue that comes up,” at least not before she does more research.
But a few opinions came up. She said council decisions and spending must allow for the fact that not everyone in town is wealthy, and issues should be “handled on a personal basis.” She is interested in the concept of moving telephone and utility lines underground to protect them against storms.
Quinn and her opponent, City Councilman Robert Rudolph, appear to disagree on the need for a police K-9 unit.
The City Council voted last spring to decline a proposal for the K-9 unit, which would have included a dog, an officer and a car. The city and an anonymous donor would have shared the cost of the unit for the rest of the year.
While saying she was not ready to offer an opinion on the issue, Quinn expressed some doubts about the need for the new unit, since the department could borrow a police dog from larger neighboring cities. “I don’t know why necessarily Medina would have one of their own,” she said.
Rudolph calls the K-9 unit a “necessary service” that taxpayers deserve, and he voted to pay for it.
The longtime head of an Eastside group that works to cut down on aircraft noise, Rudolph said limiting noise from jet planes, 520 traffic and boats on the lake is a high priority. The city’s proximity to Seattle and Bellevue in the state’s largest urban area brings in more property crime, which means the Police Department also must be a priority, Rudolph said.
He is also interested in moving utility lines underground and in scheduling a public meeting to discuss regulating the construction of large homes on “modest-sized” lots. Some residents have complained over the years when old homes are torn down and large homes are built in their place.
Lucius Biglow, owner of two Irish wolfhounds, disagreed with the council’s decision last year to create a separate off-leash area in Medina Park. Some elderly residents and parents were worried about the dogs running free, while some dog owners protested the idea of splitting the park. Biglow said he wanted residents to regulate themselves with existing limits on misbehaving dogs.
Biglow also wants to consider an independent review of the city’s spending habits. He does not support a recent proposal for a new or expanded City Hall and is “dubious” about the proposal for a K-9 unit.
His opponent for the Position 3 seat, Tim O’Brien, moved to the city about four years ago with his family and wants to get involved in the community. “We have a pretty fantastic neighborhood the way it is,” he said.
But the council members could work better together and be “less argumentative in some of their decision-making styles,” O’Brien said. The decision to turn down the K-9 unit for the Police Department was wrong, he said.
“To not give them a resource that’s been requested, that has good facts behind it — that doesn’t sound like good management to me in the long run,” he said.
O’Brien said he would focus on improving communication between city officials and residents, especially for people who aren’t comfortable speaking at council meetings. He said he would also work to limit airplane noise and keep tabs on plans for 520.
After two years on the Planning Commission, Bret Jordan said he is “tired of being stymied” by the City Council in the commission’s efforts to streamline the building-permit process. The council “is not interested in improving citizens’ experience with the city,” he said.
He would work on the council in a “professional and efficient manner” and avoid the personal agendas he says have permeated the council. He supported the K-9 unit and said the Police Department must continue to be a priority, with the potential for more crime from fast-growing Bellevue.
“The most inefficient police work you do is when the problem is already on your lap,” he said.
Jordan agreed with the council’s decision to create a separate off-leash area at the park and does not think the proposal needs to be reconsidered.
His opponent, Councilman Drew Blazey, voted against the off-leash proposal and supported some tweaks to the plan during the summer.
Blazey said the city must still monitor the plans for 520 and push for “lids” over the highway and walls to dampen noise. The city is in good shape financially, with a large budget surplus, he said, so he was one of two council members to vote against a move last year to raise property taxes by 1 percent.
He is also opposed to replacing or expanding City Hall. If necessary, some city staffers could move into rented office space in Bellevue. “[City Hall] is slightly inadequate, but it’s not horrible,” he said.
Blazey voted against adding the K-9 unit, he said, because the need can be filled by nearby cities and city police staffing is already adequate. “We have a solid Police Department and [the proposal] was rather excessive,” he said.
The City Council often falls into two clearly defined camps on spending issues, according to some council members and candidates. To describe what his approach would be, Jim Lawrence evoked an outgoing U.S. Supreme Court justice known for her open mind.
“I want to be the Sandra Day O’Connor on the City Council,” he said. “I don’t draw the line in the sand.”
Lawrence, a member of the Planning Commission who served on the council from 2000-02, said he would consider an expanded City Hall, but not a replacement. He said he is concerned that city spending has gone up faster than inflation in the last couple of years.
The building-permit process should be simplified, he said. “Do we need to know detail about every screw and nail that goes into a house?” he asked.
The other candidate for Position 7, the seat being vacated by Deputy Mayor Todd Nunn, is Patrick Boyd. Boyd has watched the council for several years and said the “personal agendas” of some members have gotten in the way of running the city.
“I just don’t think they have the community as a whole at heart,” he said.
Boyd also wants to improve the permit process. He knows “no one who’s built a house or remodel in Medina that’s happy with the process.”
Monitoring the 520 project and trying to cut down on airplane noise are among his priorities. He’s also interested in the idea of moving the utility lines underground.
Efficiency and teamwork must be restored to a council that serves a small town and does not have the thornier issues of larger cities, Boyd said. “It’s not a huge task,” he said of the council. “[But] it does not seem to be as effective as it should be.”
Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or firstname.lastname@example.org