This is the first in an interview series by Don Mann with challengers running for Woodinville City Council.
Les Rubstello — Council position No. 2
Resident of Woodinville since: I’ve lived here for almost 10 years; lived in King County for 30 years.
Employment: Deputy public works director for the city of Lynnwood for the last eight years. Before that, 20 years with WSDOT in Yakima, Vancouver and Seattle.
Education: Undergraduate degree in civil enginering/transportation from Oregon State University in 1979; masters in CE/transportation planning and operations from University of Washington in 1991.
Personal: Married 10 years to my wife Patty. I have two adult boys from a previous marriage and Patty has two children, Jessica and Tyler, who both attend Woodinville High School.
Local Government Experience: I’ve been on Woodinville’s planning commission for the last seven years. With the city of Lynnwood, I prepare and track budgets for over 30 employees totaling almost $16 million annually.
Civic Involvement: I’ve done some Habitat for Humanity work through church, where we’ve built some homes in Yakima and the Snoqualmie Ridge.
Why are you running for office? I’m running because I see a dysfunctional council that spends its time fighting amongst themselves and with city staff, and not getting anything accomplished. I think the breaking point, for me, was the recent debate on the downtown plan that took nine months and only arrived at a partial decision — it’s still pending. I see a (certain) group of council members that appear to be against progress in the city, and don’t seem to be FOR anything.
What are the most important issues? Preserving neighborhood density is very important and the recent Supreme Court decision has made that a lot easier for Woodinville. With that out of the way, we need to move forward with the downtown plan to show that the city is open for business. Since the Streamlined Sales Tax we’ve suffered and we need an aggressive downtown plan. Plus we’ve got this incredible wine industry that really dropped in Woodinville’s lap — city government did nothing to make it happen and does nothing to promote it and embrace it. If we’re not careful, Issaquah or Redmond or somebody will find a way to steal a big portion of that. We need to integrate that industry more with town ... more than just having grapes on our logo.
Your vision for Woodinville’s growth? The city will not likely grow in size — there’s just not that much land — and the neighborhoods will not change their character. The changes will be more residential downtown, and the industrial areas will become more commercial and retail. The downtown plan envisions an office campus along the freeway, with more shops from the ballfields all the way to Target ... more grid streets to make walking and driving easier downtown. Buildings will be 3-5 stories with stores below, office and residential above. Retail restrictions will be removed from the industrial areas. The tourist district will expand north of SR 202, and there will be better shuttle services around the loop.
What’s the best thing about Woodinville? The natural element. The hills and valleys, the views of Mt. Rainier, the river ... Molbak’s, the balloons. The fact that almost all necessities are for sale in town, yet many of the neighborhoods have a very rural feel. The wine industry is great because it gives Woodinville a fun reputation around the state. It brings people here from all over to have a good time.
What could be improved? The man-made element. We need more hotels and restaurants, more fun shops for residents and tourists, and a small amount of more stores for necessities. The city needs to be more engaged with the business community around it. We all want the same vibrant community, but we’re not working together to get there.
What separates you from your opponent (incumbent Jeff Glickman)? I have watched my opponent and he is confrontational and demeaning to other council members and to staff. He attacks almost every proposal brought before him and seldom makes clear what he would like instead. This comes across as some kind of personal agenda, but it is hard to tell what that might be. I have shown from my work on the planning commission that I can work well with a group of peers and help steer the group to succeed at its tasks.