Op-Ed: LFP Candidate forum highlights experience and passion

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Incumbent council members John Resha and Mark Phillips answer
questions at the LFP candidate forum by LWV moderator Kathy Sakahara
Photo by Amy Whittenburg

By Donna Hawkey

The candidate forum in Lake Forest Park on October 18, moderated by the League of Women Voters and sponsored by Third Place Commons, highlighted the choices of experienced city council incumbents versus personally passionate opposers and an interesting situation for the school board position.

The voters will decide whether a City Council candidate in place is a good fit going forward when the City is at its most pivotal decision making point in an over 50-year history. The most important decisions will take place in the next 18 months. Or does the city need new voices to move forward in some different directions?

In the race for Shoreline School Board Position No. 2, the big question is; do the voters feel comfortable giving this position to a Shoreline resident who is a college instructor with strong political experience, or do they want a Lake Forest Park resident with a decade of volunteer experience in school organizations? Jill Brady lives in Lake Forest Park and is not associated with any government. Heather Fralick lives in Shoreline and is the wife of the Mayor of Shoreline.

Because school board directors have to live in the district associated with the position, there are only two positions that a Lake Forest Park resident can run for. Debi Ehrlichman, who is retiring, is the only Lake Forest Park resident on the board.

Back to the City Council race, the voters will decide if the current failed Central Subarea community process caused them to lose confidence in this government and staff decisions to the point of upsets in either City Council Position No. 3 or Position No. 7. Councilmember John Wright, who has 30 years experience as an engineer with Metro Transit, currently holds Position No. 3. “We have only one chance to get this right,” he said, referring to the new Central Subarea Plan which includes Sound Transit 3 planning. He also feels he is the only pure “independent voice” on the current City Council and especially when it involves the more controversial issues, mentioning that he is often the "one" vote in a 6 to 1 decision.

Councilmember John Resha has been acting as the City’s budget chair and says he has served the budget process well even with increased spending in some areas of identified need. “ As we go forward as community, I hope to continue leading efforts for financial stability and stewardship, environmental protections, and developing local solutions with the people of Lake Forest Park through open dialogue and experienced delivery,” (from Councilmember Resha’s recent NextDoor re-introduction posts.) Councilmember Resha also spearheaded the City’s recent tree ordinance update.

The City of Lake Forest Park, Mayor Jeff Johnson, along with City Council and City Staff, did take swift action in recently breaking an up to $200,000 outside Central Subarea services contract that wasted considerable time and energies during an already rushed process for a complex set of projects. Going forward the City Council is promising to really find ways to engage the residents. They learned from this false start and have taken responsibility for what has happened. But will they keep moving ahead on their promises to improve “two-way communication?”

Some residents are still upset from past experiences with the city. Sanctuary and compassionate city issues brought one candidate, Ben Gonzalez O’Brien to the forums, and another, Nick Negulescu, stepped forward after concerns over rumors about rezoning in his neighborhood.

Now both of these opposing candidates say they are hearing loudly from other Lake Forest Park residents that they are tired of the same old lack of communication that has been its own historical rub for too long.

Ben Gonzalez O’Brien for City Council Position No 3 runs his overall platform around “Community, Accountability, Environment.” Ben especially is interested in developing a ten-year plan for the creation of affordable housing in LFP to address increasing housing prices and a lack of senior living facilities. Being a Professor of Political Science, Ben feels that gives him independent thinking perspective. He pledged to hold “office hours” to talk with constituents, push for more community forums, and work on outreach to our low-income and minority communities.

Candidate Nick Negulescu is mounting a last-minute campaign for City Council Position No. 7 as a write-in, challenging the more budget experienced Councilmember Resha for his seat. Nick is a resident living nearby the Town Center in what would be one of the neighborhoods most affected by any ST3 parking garage or other Town Center development.

The most important thing to remember though, is just to vote, and always do your own homework before you vote. Some candidates have websites that can be easily googled by using their name and city/state.

No matter who you choose to vote for, take responsibility for that decision and get involved however you can. Together we can make sure all the winners follow through on their campaign promises!

Thanks to all these candidates for your service.

Donna Hawkey is a 21 year Lake Forest Park resident and can be reached at dhawkey@comcast.net.  She has personally endorsed Jill Brady.

Updated to change article to Op-Ed category and correct schools in  


Anonymous,  October 29, 2017 at 8:39 AM  

I choose candidates based on qualifications rather than where they live. Voting for Heather Fralick.

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