Candidate forum in Lake Forest Park brings a few fireworks

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Story and photo by Mike Remarcke

Monday night, October 9, 2023 at the Lake Forest Park Third Place Commons, the two candidates running for Mayor and several other city council candidates vying for open council positions participated in a well-attended candidate forum event.

The League of Women’s Voters sponsored the event and moderated the proceedings. The event started with a series of set questions, followed by a couple of questions from the audience.

Running for Mayor is the incumbent, Jeff Johnson, who has been Mayor for the last eight years and is looking for a final four to close out his career. Competing against Jeff is Tom French, a recent councilmember who resigned to challenge the existing Mayor.

Other candidates included Ellyn Saunders and Nigel Keiffer running for Council Position #4, Paula Goode and Stephanie Angelis for Council Position #6 and Councilmember Lorri Bodi running unopposed in Council Position #2.

In a nutshell, starting with the Mayor’s race, Jeff Johnson touted his record as Mayor over the eight years, mentioning the upstream culverts project, the waterfront park, his support for the police department diversity and issues dealing with Sound Transit.

He sees safety issues as a continuing challenge as well as budget issues, but sees LFP on a good path. He feels throughout his terms as mayor, the citizens of LFP all feel included and safe in the city. 

Tom French also touted his experience on the council over the years (Deputy Mayor). Some of his key issues are the environment and tree cover, which he sees as an important component of equity. He has expanded the park system in the city. He would like to oversee the actions of mass transit and sees safety on the streets of LFP are a major concern.

If there is a need for more money he would support camera use on highways in the city as a form of city income. He has championed programs to help seniors who want to downsize and yet remain in LFP and for a modest change in zoning to allow for more affordable housing.

Lorri Bodi, running unopposed for Position #4 participated in the form. She is currently on the council and has been deeply involved in the Sound Transit issues, a climate action plan and other pressing issues of the day in the city.

The Position #6 is the most interesting of the races, with Stephanie Angelis running against Paula Goode. Both have similar views on inclusion and diversity. Stephanie supports a program of business incubation to allow for more companies to do business in LFP. She also has ideas regarding options with the single family zoning rules. 

Paula is one of the founders of CORE and has proposed changes to Sound Transit’s route through LFP.  She is opposed to the ST retaining wall and loss of tree cover.

Position #4 has Ellyn Saunders running against Nigel Keiffer. Ellyn has no experience in city government but is looking forward to learning and speaking to residents to find what their ideas and concerns are. She supports safe parks, clean water and air and cheaper housing. 

Her opponent, Nigel Keiffer was the surprise of the event. He attacked city government and taxes at every chance. He called the folks at the table all communists and social engineers. He was against everything. It should be an easy win for Ellyn.

Some of the overall questions concerned the waterfront park. The joke was that Lake Forest Park had lots of Parks and Trees, but no Lake (front). Now they do and the need to develop the property will be the focus. But the biggest problem is there are no places to park! The city is working on that issue. 

Another issue, and all candidates support the concept, is affordable housing and diversity in the city. That is another tough issue in that LFP was developed as a bedroom community years back. With the tree cover, hills and streams, more development will bring other issues. 

A big issue is what can the city do to keep taxes from soaring? All candidates were aware of the issue but had no clear path to solutions, except for one candidate who said taxes should be eliminated!

Finally a 13 year old girl asked what they foresaw LFP looking like in 30 years. All the candidates talked of parks, bike lanes, traffic circles etc. Tom French then used his extra time to answer more in line with his environmental focus, that he hoped to see deer in his yard, fish in the streams and eagles soaring with an occasional bear sighting. That seemed to please the young woman!

Correction: Tom French said he would support cameras on the highways in the city, not city streets. LFP has three highways: SR 104 / Ballinger Way; SR 522 / Bothell Way; NE 145th


Eric November 5, 2023 at 8:20 AM  

I wish our journalism would include asking our candidates what are the top three things that differeniate you from your opponents? Most elections I find it hard to discern meaningful policy differences for most candidates.

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