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City Council appoints Hank Stecker to fill vacant seat

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman

After eight rounds of voting during an almost five-hour meeting, Woodinville had a new City Council member last Tuesday night: Hank Stecker, a current planning commissioner and former council member and deputy mayor.
To appoint a new council member, the council interviewed all seven candidates who applied to fill position 4, vacated by Scott Hageman in May. (Find out more about all the applicants on page 3.)

“I was brought up in a family where it was very important to be involved,” Stecker said in his interview. “They saw the United States as a great opportunity, and we were always pushed forward to participate.”

In the first round of voting, the council narrowed the list of seven candidates to three — Stecker, Deanna Arnold-Frady and Thomas Quigley.

In subsequent rounds of voting, the council was split 3-3. Councilmember Paula Waters, Mayor Bernie Talmas and Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders favored Stecker, while Councilmember Les Rubstello, Deputy Mayor James Evans and Councilmember Liz Aspen supported Arnold-Frady. (See excerpts from the interviews with the top two candidates on page 3.)

Arnold-Frady’s experience includes working as an executive investment professional in the securities industry, and community service with school and religious organizations and the Girl Scouts.

Quigley owns a business in the city, Olympic Nursery; is a member of the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors; serves as chair of the city’s Tree Board and volunteers with other organizations.

The council members who supported Stecker cited his experience and involvement in the city, noting that he didn’t stop being involved after his time on the council ended.

Those who supported Arnold-Frady said she would provide geographical diversity (she lives on the west side of the city, whereas most of the council lives on the east side) and a fresh face.

“I’m delighted that it comes down to two people who meet two very important qualifications that I said earlier,” said Evans, who acknowledged that he acted as a swing vote. “One is experience, and I think both of them have a lot of experience, based on our interview and what’s going on. I also absolutely love — and I don’t think this is defaming or strange, because it’s very positive — but both of them I’ve met before, both of them have had the opportunity to be dishonest with me, and neither of them ever have. I consider that worth its weight in gold.”

Aspen and Rubstello praised Arnold-Frady’s good qualities, but also criticized Stecker’s flaws.

“One issue with having a lot of experience is that you do have negative experience as well,” Rubstello said. “It’s been no secret that this council’s had some struggles with divisiveness in the past couple of years, and all I know is, when Hank Stecker got onto council, his first time, that that’s probably the darkest years of Woodinville City Council for divisiveness.”

Boundy-Sanders replied that “the so-called dark days in Woodinville” came at a time when the city was dealing with serious issues that Stecker ran to solve, such as applications to build housing developments on top of critical areas.
“We had a harmonious council that didn’t disagree on anything, and the price that we paid for that harmonious council was the world’s most expensive sewage treatment plant built on top of a fault that generates magnitude 7 earthquakes,” she said. “So, harmony doesn’t get you safety…. Harmony is vastly overrated.”

After several votes that resulted in the same 3-3 split, several council members tried to move through the impasse.
Waters suggested reintroducing the other candidates to the voting, but that motion failed. Aspen proposed a second round of interviews for the top candidates, but after interviewing Stecker and Arnold-Frady again, none of the council members had changed their mind.

The council discussed what would happen if it could not reach a decision that night.

The council could continue the selection at a later meeting, but needed to make a decision by Aug. 4, or the responsibility of appointing a new member would go to the King County Council.

After explaining that he would miss the next meeting because he was traveling for work, Evans suggested continuing the selection process at the next meeting.

“It would upset me to be left out of it, but it seems that might be the best outcome at this point, since we seem fairly entrenched,” he said.

But Aspen and Rubstello wondered why the council should continue when it was obvious what the outcome would be.
“If you are all so stuck in your position that nobody’s going to change, I will make it official and not waste anybody’s time at the beginning of next meeting, because I don’t intend to [take the] cowardly way out, and I will make my vote and be proud that I voted for Mr. Stecker,” Evans said, before voting for Stecker in the eighth vote. “...I think Ms. Arnold-Frady would be excellent for the seat, but I do not wish to be an impediment or escape a vote.”

Applicants:
(in order of interviews)

Barbara Konior
Lived in Woodinville for: 1 year, 11 months
Experience: Attorney; former investment executive; community service with education and legal organizations

Thomas Quigley
Lived in Woodinville for: 3 years
Experience: Small business owner; Woodinville Chamber of Commerce board member; community service with education and agriculture organizations

Hank Stecker
Lived in Woodinville for: 24 years, 7 months
Experience: Woodinville Planning Commission member and chair; former Woodinville City Council member and deputy mayor; former mortgage planner and lending consultant

Elaine Cook
Lived in Woodinville for: 8 years, 2 months
Experience: Current Wellington Elementary PTA co-president; former VP of fundraising for Wellington Elementary PTA; involvement in church

Deanna Arnold-Frady
Lived in Woodinville for: 13 years, 1 month
Experience: Executive investment professional in the securities industry; community service with school, Girl Scouts and religious organizations

Paul Cowles
Lived in Woodinville for: 7 years, 6 months
Experience: Former Bothell City Council member and mayor; former Woodinville Planning Commission member, chair and vice chair; involvement in city, county and state government associations; former bank vice president; community service with Kiwanis Club and other organizations

Manish Sheth
Lived in Woodinville for: 8 years, 9 months
Experience: Founder and CEO of software company; former management and director positions with other technology companies; community advisor and Board committee member for EvergreenHealth; community service with health and cultural organizations

INTERVIEW EXCERPTS

Deputy Mayor Evans asked: After hearing the Council’s deliberations, is there anything you’d like to say or comment or add to what you said earlier or address because it’s been brought up?

Stecker: “I look back eight or nine years ago…. I remember I couldn’t get out in a snowstorm, because our streets weren’t plowed…. Our streets were never paved….The roundabouts hadn’t been put in. Every time it rained, it would flood downtown. And although I’m sorry it caused some controversy, we had no way for the public to watch what we were doing, because the cameras were not turned on. So, sometimes controversy’s a good thing.”

Arnold-Frady: “I, like Councilmember Aspen has picked up on, am not hoping to become a decisive factor on this Council. What I’m hoping is that through my background and my experiences, professional and personal, I can demonstrate to the citizens, to the Council, a willingness to find that common ground, a willingness to listen, a willingness to advocate and a willingness to bring a lot of experience in a lot of leadership roles in a lot of different ways to the table.”

Councilmember Aspen asked: A Council member’s vote is one of seven. Give us an idea how you would work with others on the Council to reach an outcome.

Stecker: “I think the best way is to have a fully informed Council, to do your research, to make all the information that’s pertinent to the decision and all the impacts of that decision come out during the discussion. And after everyone has weighed that information, you have to live with the decision the Council moves forward with. If there’s a majority rule and you’re with it, great. If not, you just have to support the Council and their decision.”

Arnold-Frady: “I would like to use that vote in the most effective way. So if that means that I would change mine, because I learned something in this type of deliberation, or if it means that I’m able to share information that hadn’t been shared in the discussions, I hope to bring that in a productive way…. I believe that conflict can be productively argued and productively discussed, and looking for the opportunity to share that missing link, that missing bit of information, that will move an issue forward.”

Mayor Talmas asked: Describe your vision for Woodinville in the next 10 years.

Stecker: “I’d like to see us become more of an integrated city. The city still has not been unified. Whether you’re talking about R-1 on the Hill, or the West Ridge, or the Wedge that’s alone….There’s two waterways that divide the city, there’s train tracks, there’s the 522, there’s ag lands … I don’t want to compete with Bothell. I want to see Woodinville have its own downtown….Probably some transition in our industrial area into more technology-based office space. And I’d like to see the city grow at a nice, comfortable pace that everyone’s O.K. with.”

Arnold-Frady: “I would like to see ... the heritage of the city protected….There’s opportunity for business development outside the tourist business. I think the city could maybe embrace some of the other business opportunities that are out there… Create an environment where the people who are raised here, like Deputy Mayor Evans, want to stay here. Through jobs, through education opportunities, through good neighborhoods, through safety.”

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