Ryan on the homestretch toward another term as District 4 county councilmember
Last updated 11/2/2017 at Noon
Like a running back fighting off tacklers at the goal line, former Mill Creek Mayor Terry Ryan has downplayed accusations by his opposition as he sprints toward re-election to the Snohomish County Council.
This should not even be a contest, according to Mill Creek Mayor Pam Pruitt, who serves as an administrative aide on Ryan’s staff at the Snohomish County Administrative Building in Everett.
“Terry had over 60 percent of the vote in the primary,” Pruitt said proudly. “He has done an incredible job for the people in the district.”
District 4 in Snohomish County includes the cities of Briar, Bothell, Mountlake Terrace and Mill Creek in addition to large portions of unincorporated county.
The councilman’s main distraction has come from his opponent in the general election on Nov. 7, Bothell resident Marcus Barton. The self-proclaimed Republican retired from the military with combat injuries. Barton rents a townhome with his wife and two children, and is afraid that the skyrocketing cost of housing will soon price him out of the market.
“The infrastructure,” he said, “was not built to keep pace with the influx of people and the development that has taken place in the south end of the county.”
Barton believes the urban growth boundary set by the county has driven up prices. He has campaigned on policies that would promote more growth in unincorporated sections of the county.
“Bothell would be a great place to live if we did not have to live with nonstop gridlock,” Barton told The Beacon “He (Ryan) has failed to plan for the upswing in employment and not pushing for more strict adherence to the enforcement of codes already on the books.”
The councilman has other ideas to corral growth and keep housing affordable for residents of his district. Ryan said he would like to see height restrictions eased to allow for taller apartment buildings along main traffic corridors and near transit centers.
“We need to increase the supply of housing,” Ryan said. “We cannot just keep moving further out.”
Barton has continued to badger the incumbent over his use of photos with a Friend of the Navy award Ryan was given in 2010. The incumbent said he is proud to display the prestigious award given to him by Rear Admiral Jim Symonds when he was the commanding officer at the Everett Naval Station.
“So, I guess this means that I can say that I received the prestigious ‘Friend of the Army’ award, which just so happens to look like an Enlistment Contract, Five Subsequent Reenlistment Contracts, Three Combat Operation Deployment Orders and one set of Retirement Orders,” Barton said sarcastically.
Another voice to come out against Ryan’s quest for a second term, former Mill Creek resident Jim Shelden, told The Beacon that Ryan does not deserve another term on the County Council because he abandoned his opposition to the expansion of commercial flights at Paine Field.
According to Shelden, Ryan actively opposed the introduction of commercial flights out of the airport while he was mayor of Mill Creek and when he served as the county representative to the Puget Sound Regional Council during his 17 years on the City Council.
“People were absolutely stunned when he voted in favor of allowing Propeller LLC to build a commercial airline terminal (at Paine Field) in 2015 as a member of the County Council,” Shelden said. “To say that this was a most shocking and unbelievable betrayal of civic trust is putting it mildly.”
Contacted for a response to the accusations, Ryan said he cast the deciding vote on the council more than three years ago to protect public services in the county. According to the councilman, the revenue the county generates from Boeing and facility rental at the airport would have been jeopardized if the county rejected a plea from the Federal Aviation Administration to allow commercial flights in and out of the regional airport.Ryan said he voted to allow airport expansion after meeting with Dave Waggoner, the former airport director at Paine Field. The two first met while Ryan was running for his seat on the County Council four years ago.
“Upkeep of Paine Field comes from the Enterprise Fund maintained by the county,” Ryan said. “Dave told me the FAA had threatened to withhold funds if we did not allow the expansion.
“That means that the $10-$12 million we’ll need to upgrade the runways would bankrupt the Enterprise Fund, and the additional money we needed would have to come from the General Fund,” Ryan explained. “Three-fourths (76 percent) of the General Fund goes to pay for sheriff and fire protection in the county. I was not going to jeopardize the safety of our communities and our citizens.”
Ryan said he opposed the expansion of Paine Field to reflect the stance of the Mill Creek City Council while he was mayor and a voting member of the City Council.
“Elected officials are allowed to change their mind when it benefits the people they represent,” Ryan said. “I’d like to ask Mr. Shelden if he has ever changed his mind about anything.”