If you're seeing red watching taillights on the Coal Creek Parkway, help is on the way. At least that's what both candidates in Newcastle's...

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If you’re seeing red watching taillights on the Coal Creek Parkway, help is on the way. At least that’s what both candidates in Newcastle’s City Council Position 5 race say.

Steven Buri and Daniel Hubbell are squaring off in the only contested race among the three Newcastle City Council positions up for election this year. The two are vying for the position being vacated after four years by Gordon Bissett.

Voters don’t face an easy decision between the two.

From their personal profiles — both are young, successful family men with two children — to their understanding of and positions on issues, the candidates look similar.

If there is a contrast on major issues, it might be in the area of downtown development.

Both agree Newcastle needs to increase business activity downtown, but Buri favors a plan that reduces barriers to business involvement. He doesn’t disagree with current council plans and would support a new city hall, but wants to emphasize the private sector taking the lead in developing the downtown.

Steven Buri, 33

Residence: Newcastle

Occupation: Executive director of the Discovery Institute

Personal: Married, two children

Background: Former senior staff assistant to Sen. Slade Gorton; co-founder of the nonprofit conservation group Stewardship Partners

Top three endorsements: Newcastle Mayor John Dulcich; Secretary of State Sam Reed; the Rental Housing Association

Campaign Web site: www.buri4newcastle.com

Daniel Hubbell, 30

Residence: Newcastle

Occupation: Program manager at Microsoft and freelance photographer

Personal: Married, two children

Background: Four-year member and current chair of the Newcastle planning commission

Top three endorsements: State Sen. Brian Weinstein; State Rep. Judy Clibborn; Washington Conservation Voters

Campaign Web site: http://vote.danhub.com/

Hubbell’s plan revolves around securing development in the form of a new King County Library and a new transit center being planned by Sound Transit. He would like to see a new city hall with one of the two as a tenant. He believes projects such as these would make downtown more active and attractive to businesses looking to locate.

“By doing these sorts of projects, we can prove to developers that, as a municipality, we as a city are committed to the success of our downtown core,” said Hubbell.

The King County Library system has a $6.7 million, voter-approved package to build a new library in Newcastle but is still looking for a building site, as is Sound Transit for its estimated $5 million project.

Both candidates list completing the Coal Creek Parkway improvement project as a priority for their young city, which incorporated in 1994.

The project, which includes widening the arterial to four lanes and putting in lane pockets for left turns as well as pedestrian and bicycle improvements, is divided into three geographic sections, the first of which is complete. Financing for the second and third phases is still several million dollars short.

Both candidates see their role in the project as cooperative, working with federal, state and county officials to secure money to complete the project. To that end, both support a “no” vote on Initiative 912 to roll back the gas tax.

To distinguish themselves from each other, each cites experience as the difference.

Hubbell is running on his local experience in city government, which includes four years of involvement on Newcastle’s planning commission.

Buri sees his potential based on a fresh perspective and 10 years of public-policy experience, including working for former Republican Sen. Slade Gorton.

“I hope to take my experience and apply it to the challenges facing the city of Newcastle,” said Buri.

Both are in step on the need for more business in Newcastle in order to diversify the city’s tax base, which is dominated by property taxes.

Buri also emphasizes the need to bolster the police force, noting an increase in property crime. Hubbell says he would support hiring an additional officer if Police Chief Shawn Ledford requests it.

Whoever wins in November will join Position 6 incumbent Ben Varon and Position 7 incumbent Jean Garber on the council. Varon and Garber are running unopposed for their seats.

Matt Ironside: 206-464-2540 or mironside@seattletimes.com