Candidates for City Council positions 1, 3 and 5 are running unopposed, but they still care deeply about Woodinville’s future. Paula Waters and Susan Boundy-Sanders shared their thoughts on downtown development, annexing the Sammamish River Valley and other issues.
Paula Walters decided to run for City Council because of one key issue when she realized no one else was stepping forward.
"I realized the city might annex land in the Valley, and I really couldn’t live with that," she explained.
Waters, the only candidate running for position 1, is new to the City Council, but not to local government. A 30-year Woodinville resident and a medical transcriptionist for Group Health, Waters said her four years on the planning commission have taught her about the Comprehensive Plan, the Growth Management Act, how county government works, and the competing interests of citizens, planners and developers.
She hopes to preserve agricultural land in the Sammamish River Valley, while preventing "sprawl" in downtown.
"I fear that if we annex the Valley, that’s cheaper land, so development will go down there instead of downtown," she said.
Although she respects the importance of tourism, she wants to keep the Sammamish River Valley rural.
She describes picking her own vegetables at Root Connection, a community farm in the Valley.
"I always find it so beautiful, so rejuvenating," she said. "Nature spent millions of years laying down that topsoil, and I don’t think we should waste it."
Waters wants downtown to have places for people to gather and meet, with public spaces that are appealing and natural. It should "feel like a town, not a suburb," she said. She wants the Central Business District to be walkable, with minimal parking lots and big box stores.
In addition to land use issues, Waters wants the city to "expand the range of employment" to include more knowledge-based, "21st century jobs."
Although Woodinville has traditionally had lots of industrial jobs, Waters said she thinks there will come a time when that land becomes too expensive for industrial companies.
But she understands that employment, like many other issues, isn’t completely in the council’s control.
"The council can make the way easy for things to happen, but it cannot force it," she said.
James Evans, the only candidate running for position 3, is currently unavailable, but the Woodinville Weekly is hopeful that he can be interviewed before the general election.
Land use and development issues — promoting local businesses in downtown and keeping the Sammamish River Valley centered on tourism rather than local retail — are the biggest priorities for Susan Boundy-Sanders, who is the only candidate running for position 5 on the City Council, the position she’s held since 2009.
Boundy-Sanders, who’s lived in Woodinville for 16 years, approves of the way the city’s plans concentrate growth downtown, but "the current plan is sort of impartial with regard to who owns the businesses."
"On average, every new national chain store puts four locally owned stores out of business" within five years, Boundy-Sanders said. "When Target came to town, we had record stores, book stores, hardware stores … My preference is for locally owned stores, so the executive salaries stay in town."
Although she tried during her first term to put measures in place to support local businesses, the rest of the council didn’t support those measures, she said.
Now, Boundy-Sanders believes the Sammamish River Valley is another source of tension between local citizens and businesses versus outside developers. She wants to keep development within city limits, and wants to keep the Sammamish River Valley and the Woodinville Village mixed-use development focused on tourism rather than local customers.
That’s because downtown Woodinville already has an excess of land for retail, she said, and the city needs to maintain the ratio of retail to population.
"Right now, we have a healthy shopping environment," she said. "If we dilute that retail pot, all those downtown businesses get less traffic, less money."
In addition to her experience on the City Council, Boundy-Sanders has also served as the vice chair of the planning commission and is involved in several local nonprofit groups.
She works in the software industry as a technical writer and program manager but has degrees and experience in geology, which make her knowledgeable about hazards such as landslides, erosion and flooding.
She’s used that knowledge to get involved in land use disputes about Woodinville Heights and now Wellington Hills County Park.