On Tuesday, July 6, Woodinville City Council appointed Phil Mark to fill the seat vacated by former councilmember Chuck Price. Mark was selected in a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders voting for the other candidate Michelle Evans and Councilmember Mike Millman abstaining because technology issues prevented him from hearing most of the interviews.
The council decided to choose between the two people who filed to run for that position in the 2021 election, which was a decision some residents found controversial. Included in those who opposed selecting among election candidates for the open position, which was created by Price’s resignation on July 30, were former city councilmember Paula Waters and a former commission member Paul Hagen. The former officials argued in a Weekly letter to the editor that whomever is selected will have an unfair advantage in the upcoming election and that the council was “dancing around democracy.”
However, during the July 6 meeting, Councilmember Al Taylor said that by bringing in the two candidates to interview for the position at the public meeting, both would be served well by providing the community with an opportunity to get to know them.
In their interviews, which were held separately from each other with the other candidate sequestered, both Mark and Evans expressed support for recent downtown developments such as Woodin Creek Village. They valued the draw of new small businesses and the inclusion of mixed-use housing within the new buildings.
The candidates differed slightly when asked by Taylor about endorsements, and about the rational of potentially receiving a partisan endorsement for a non-partisan position. Evans had received an endorsement from the 45th District Democrats, which she said she sought because of her work with the group in the last presidential election and in order to obtain education about running a campaign.
“Even though I have the Democrats’ endorsement, it doesn’t mean that they have any sway,” she said.
Evans also received an endorsement from the non-partisan National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington.
Mark said he did not respond to groups that reached out with information about the process of seeking an endorsement.
“Woodinville is such a unique community, and the idea of having us answer to outside endorsements, I find that I didn’t participate in any of them,” he said. “I feel that it’s really important to have endorsements really with people who are in and of this community.”
He contacted former officials to learn about the role, including former mayors Elaine Cook and Scott Hageman, he said, and he obtained their endorsements.
Both candidates said they had followed the ongoing issue of the county’s adult beverage ordinance and winery tasting rooms operating in the agricultural district just outside of Woodinville.
Evans said she would like to see protections of the rural and agricultural land where possible, and she wanted to ensure that any businesses moving into that area are in compliance with the state Growth Management Act.
Mark acknowledged the issue had ramifications for the rural land but said he wasn’t sure what role city council plays given that the land in question is in unincorporated King County.
In regards to regional transit, Evans and Mark said they were disappointed in Woodinville’s exclusion from Sound Transit planning and funding opportunities. Evans said the city needs a strong advocate in regional conversations regarding adding more public transit options in the area.
Mark said transit and traffic should be tied to discussions about whether King County will select Woodinville as a site for its new Northeast Recycling and Transfer Station.
“I see that as undermining the entire good intentions of council and commissions to find traffic and transportation alternatives because of the extra traffic that would be coming in to that road,” he said.
During the council’s roll call vote, Rubstello said he would be happy to work with either candidate.
“Mr. Mark is a fellow volunteer at the visitor center, so I vote for Phil Mark,” he said.
Mayor Gary Harris presided over Mark’s oath of office shortly after the interviews were completed at the meeting. Mark will serve until the November general election results are certified.