Our choices in Bonney Lake and Sumner

The News TribuneOctober 1, 2013 

The neighboring East Pierce County communities of Bonney Lake and Sumner share more than proximity. Both are trying to strike a good balance between growth and maintaining their small-town character. On Nov. 5, voters in those cities can decide how well their mayors and incumbent City Council members have been doing.

In Bonney Lake, we endorsed incumbent Mayor Neil Johnson in the August primary for re-election to a third term. Under his leadership, Bonney Lake’s credit rating rose from A to AA+ during the recession, which the city weathered with little staff turnover.

His opponent, James Rackley, is a solid member of the City Council. But he doesn’t make a good case for ousting Johnson. Voters should give the mayor another term.

Two incumbent City Council members, Dan Swatman and Donn Lewis, also deserve re-election. They’re being challenged by father-and-daughter candidates James (Kelly) McClimans Sr., a software engineer, and homemaker Shawnta Mulligan, respectively.

Swatman, a pipeline systems engineer, is knowledgeable about infrastructure and the needs the city will face as it grows and updates its comprehensive plan. Lewis, a retired Air Force colonel who substitute teaches in Bonney Lake and Sumner schools, has Planning Commission experience and a focus on safety issues.

The challengers are intelligent and promising, and likely would be quick studies on the council if they’re elected. But neither is an improvement on the incumbents.

In Sumner, Mayor Dave Enslow is seeking his third term. Voters would be wise to give it to him.

Under Enslow’s leadership, Sumner came through the recession relatively unscathed; only one employee, a senior manager, was laid off and taxes weren’t increased (Sumner’s property tax rate is among the lowest in the state).

Enslow was instrumental in putting together the agreement for the YMCA and the sale of the golf course – a $1 million annual hit on city coffers that will now be a $60 million-plus gain. And as the longest-serving member of the Sound Transit board, he remains well-positioned to look out for Sumner’s transportation interests.

His opponent, City Council member Nancy Dumas, did not respond to the editorial board’s request for an interview.

For City Council, two incumbents – Ed Hannus and Randy Hynek – are seeking re-election. We think Sumner voters can do better by electing their challengers, Earle Stuard and Kathy Hayden, respectively.

Hannus has been a solid council member, but Stuard presents an opportunity that voters shouldn’t pass up. A member of the city’s Planning Commission since 2009, Stuard is a retired assistant finance director for the city of Bellevue who would bring valuable budgeting expertise to the council.

We also think Hayden, chair of the city’s Planning Commission, would be a step up from Hynek, the incumbent. Co-owner – with her husband – of a Sumner barber shop, she would be a strong voice for small business on the council. Along with Stuard, she would help calm the acrimony that has marred council proceedings.

To read earlier endorsement editorials, go online to www.thenewstribune.com/endorsements.

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