The incoming mayors of Renton and Redmond will lead cities that look very different from when their predecessors first took office 12 years ago.
Renton’s population doubled during Mayor Denis Law’s three terms. Redmond’s population increased by about 30 percent during Mayor John Marchione’s tenure. Both cities have felt the impacts of the region’s population and housing boom, and Renton hopes to bring in thousands of new tech employees.
Neither Law nor Marchione is running for re-election. Seven people — four in Renton and three in Redmond — have filed to run in the Aug. 6 primary in hope of taking their place. The mayoral races are two of four in King County this fall. The others are in North Bend and Pacific.
The Renton and Redmond candidates are five current city council members, a former state representative and a real-estate agent. Two are immigrants. They all say they have the experience to lead the two rapidly changing cities.
“I think of the position as business just as much as it is political,” Law said. “You have to be able to come in and embrace working with individual leaders and their visions, whether it be the police chief or city attorney or public works, and enable them to provide high levels of service.”
Here are introductions to the candidates in the Renton election. Redmond’s candidates will be profiled on Tuesday.
Randy Corman has served on the Renton City Council for seven terms over the past 25 years. He retired in 2017 after 33 years at Boeing, and says that he’s “just at a right place in life” to run for mayor. One experience he is proud of is when residents voted in 2012 to keep the Cedar River library at its current location instead of relocating it. The City Council had already voted 4-3 to relocate the library, with Corman on the losing side, when residents were able to put the issue on the ballot. Corman said he lobbied for those residents after extensive debate.
“The other candidates have served on many boards and regional projects, as have I, but the one distinction is that I’ve been there, at City Hall, vote by vote,” he said. “When it comes to individual voters, they’ll remember me as someone who always cares about what they think.”
Corman would like to see Renton become a tech hub, in part by attracting a large company, with 5,000 new employees, to Renton’s Southport development on Lake Washington. To address housing issues, he said he supports using land that is “ripe for development or redevelopment” and working to reduce the minimum size for a house, so developers can build cottages and smaller houses that are more affordable.
Marcie Maxwell was a member of the Washington state House of Representatives for four years, representing the Eastside’s District 41, and served on the Renton School Board for eight years. She resigned from the Legislature in 2013 to serve as Gov. Jay Inslee’s senior K-12 education policy adviser. She said she has a track record of establishing relationships at the regional level, which is needed at the city level to address issues such as affordable housing and homelessness in Renton.
“Some of our major challenges are similar to our region, and they really do require a regional approach,” she said. “We’ve got to be working together on those things. It’s not us versus Seattle and the other cities; it’s all of us together.”
As mayor, Maxwell said she would continue working with the Renton Housing Authority, along with nonprofit and faith organizations, to ensure there is enough housing for low-income families. She would invest in improving transit options and make neighborhoods more friendly for pedestrians.
Armondo Pavone was elected to the Renton City Council in 2014. He owns and operates The Melrose Grill, a downtown Renton restaurant. The son of a longtime Renton police officer, he originally ran for City Council as a way to give back to the community that had supported him as a small-business owner, he said. He wants to continue Renton’s business growth, pointing to its location “in the center of the world,” being equally close to Seattle and Bellevue.
“When I started a restaurant in 1985, I would hear people say ‘Renton is the next place to explode,’ then I would hear it again, ‘Oh, it’s the next,’ fill-in-the-blank,” he said. “With the change that has gone on, it feels like I am now saying that.”
One of his focuses is support of public safety, he said, and cited his work with the city to improve the hiring and retention of police officers. The city offers a lateral signing bonus for police officers, where candidates receive $10,000.
Ruth Perez was appointed to the Renton City Council in 2014 and was elected to the council in 2015. She was born in Mexico City and moved to Washington in 1997 to finish her master’s degree. She worked for the consul of Mexico in Seattle, then opened a Renton consulting business with her husband. She became a citizen about 13 years ago. Her reasons for wanting to run for mayor, she said, are twofold: She wants to continue making a difference in Renton, and she wants to represent the diversity of the city.
“The next generation behind me, the women, the people of color, immigrants, people whose second language is English, see that they can do this as well,” she said. “For me, it’s opening doors, so they say ‘we have a place at the table, and we need our voices heard.’ ”
While growing up in Mexico City, going anywhere required spending at least an hour in a car, she said, and she doesn’t want the same thing for Renton residents. She would like to continue pressing Sound Transit for more high-capacity transit and make the best out of the the fact that light rail isn’t coming to Renton, “which nobody is happy about.”