The primary election is set for Aug. 6, and there are multiple candidates running for Lynnwood City Council positions. To help Lynnwood residents learn more about the candidates, Lynnwood Today sent a questionnaire asking about each one’s vision for the future of the city and how they plan to address issues the city faces.
We are posting these as we receive them.
Incumbent Shannon Sessions is seeking re-election for position 7 on the council. Sessions is campaigning against fellow councilmember Shirley Sutton, who has decided not to seek re-election to her position 4 seat and instead filed for Sessions’ seat, and local business owner Maggie Mae.
Q:Why are you running for re-election? What do you hope to accomplish during your second term?
Sessions: I am running for re-election to another four-year term because more than ever Lynnwood needs councilmembers who have strong leadership skills, high integrity and common sense. Lynnwood needs leaders who are truly invested in the wellbeing of our fast growing, robust, diverse and vibrant community. We have so many dynamic issues in Lynnwood and opportunities in front of us. The work is challenging, vital and meaningful. I am grateful for the outpouring of support from my peers, other community leaders and many residents to continue my position on the council.
In both my public and professional lives, I have proven to be a positive, decisive, innovative, gracious leader who understands the importance of cooperation and teamwork to achieve goals for our city. In addition to being appointed by my peers as the council’s vice president in 2018, I also serve as chair to the Lynnwood Tourism Advisory Board, city’s Audit and Insurance/Finance Committee, the city’s Historical Commission, city’s Disability board, liaison to Lynnwood Police Citizens Patrol and alternate on Snohomish County 911 board. As the only veteran on the council, I continue to meet with our regional veteran experts and am an advocate for Hero’s Café, Northwest Veterans Museum and a future veterans center that would hold all of those services.
Q: What is your 10-year vision for Lynnwood?
Sessions: The next five to 10 years will be a critical time for our city. It’s exciting to be able to report that we in the city council, with feedback from resident surveys, have been working closely with the mayor, city staff and our volunteer resident boards and commissioners on a strategic plan for some time. While we are building this foundation now for the Lynnwood Link light rail and the City Center district, for me these next few years need to be a time where we evolve into a TRUE community, spaces that are vibrant, robust and sustainable, where people want to hang out, take out-of-town visitors, meet up with friends or do business — simply more opportunities for positive engagement. Providing an atmosphere where businesses that provide a livable wage are lining up to bring their creative enterprises to Lynnwood. Most importantly during this inevitable and required growth I want to be sure we are protecting our neighborhoods and keeping Lynnwood a place where everyone feels safe and included.
Q: What ideas do you have for addressing the city’s homelessness issue?
Sessions: The homeless issue and opioid epidemic, along with other addictions, are a heartbreaking, complicated topic not just for Lynnwood, but for the county and the state as well. The last thing I want is our Lynnwood to start to look and behave anything like Seattle. I am an advocate for the “Compassion With Boundaries” philosophy.
This is where we lead with compassion by helping individuals who are homeless and struggling; removing barriers and connecting them with specific needed resources so they can help themselves. However, if they still refuse the help, we should provide boundaries required to make the city safe for all residents — that means enforcing laws we already have on the books, not tolerating continued panhandling, illegal drug use, camping, indecent exposure, nuisance, theft and other crimes.
This issue isn’t just the responsibility for law enforcement, but also other city departments and you, our community members. More than ever we need our general public to be aware and educated so you can be part of the solution. I supported providing a consistent funding mechanism to assist Snohomish County Health District, which directly provides this kind of prevention and education to our general public. I’m not in favor of “tent cities,” however, I will continue collaborating with other regional agencies to find housing options in Lynnwood or South County for our homeless families in our Edmonds School District and also continue sustainable funding for the Community Health and Safety Section of the Lynnwood Police Department and adding police officers as we continue to grow in population.
Q: What experience would you bring to the council and how is it relevant to the position?
Sessions: My very local, unique professional and personal experiences are my greatest asset as a city council member and community leader. Throughout my four years on Lynnwood’s City Council, I’m known for being a discerning, authentic leader with common sense. I am wholly invested in the wellbeing for all in Lynnwood’s fast growing, vibrant and diverse community, whether I am on the council or not. I have a “hands on” approach to leadership — appointed by my peers as the council’s vice president in 2018; I led engagement with youth, elders and businesses; and helped make Lynnwood a veteran-friendly city.
I have the courage to ask hard questions and move complicated human services needs forward with Compassion Through Boundaries. I have a positive reputation for having high integrity, experience and deep, trusted regional ties and this will continue to propel our community work forward.
Professional: US Air Force veteran, firefighter, Enterprise newspaper editor, police public information officer, small business owner, executive director of NPO Support 7 serving victims of trauma at times of crisis.
Community Stakeholder: Meadowdale HS graduate, University of Washington bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism and resident of Lynnwood for more than three decades, me and my husband of 26 years raised five children in the Edmonds School District.
Servant’s Heart: Longtime Lynnwood Rotarian, countless years volunteering with schools, children/adults with disabilities and church. Lifetime member of VFW Post 1040 and an advocate for Lynnwood’s Hero’s Café and Northwest Veterans Museum.
Q: How do you plan to involve residents in the city’s decision-making process?
Sessions: Getting more resident feedback and participation is a key challenge for councils and boards of all kinds everywhere. We have to keep trying creative ways to engage. I am known for being transparent and approachable and have always been pro-actively involved in our public events and other meaningful and inclusive outreach. In my first term on council, I coordinated the first “Conversations With The Council” town-hall-style neighborhood meeting. In addition, our communications department does a fantastic job giving residents opportunities to be engaged and give feedback to the city council, mayor and staff. We have vast opportunities of intentional and inclusive communications — printed newsletters, electronic newsletters, website, social media (variety of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube profiles). We also have printed posters, utility bill stuffers and more. Here’s how to subscribe to your choice of city enews: http://www.lynnwoodwa.gov/City-Services/Community-Outreach/eNews.htm.
Most currently we need your feedback on Human Services’ needs — please take this survey our city’s Human Services Commission prepared: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CPMNBCH.
The one thing we don’t have that I have been a major advocate for is a digital reader board outside city hall that would consistently and persistently communicate current events to our residents.
Q: What do you think the city needs to do to address the increased traffic congestion and population growth that will accompany light rail arriving in Lynnwood in 2024?
Sessions: Traffic is certainly a problem all over Lynnwood. A few ways we have been planning ahead for the future increase in traffic is putting in order infrastructure for our City Center district, this strategic preparation and upgrades have been occurring “underground” for many years. Some specific ways the public will notice “above ground” we are addressing the future increase in traffic is widening a portion of 196th (we received a federal grant to achieve this) and adding new streets through the City Center district and nearby developments, such as a new 42nd Avenue West. In addition, the City Center district plan has a big focus on multi-model transportation so that we aren’t just needing vehicles to travel, but also making it pedestrian safe and friendly and including other public transportation options as well.
Q: What plans do you have for helping to ensure the financial stability of the town?
Sessions: I spent my first three years on the council on the city’s Audit and Insurance/Finance Committee, helping keep us all accountable for good fiscal management. Our city’s Strategic Plan Priority 2 is to ensure financial stability and economic success. Some of the ways I’m going to continue to help ensure this is by continuing to plan outcome-oriented budgeting, avoid increasing ongoing expenditures that aren’t sustainable, support Lynnwood businesses and expansion of Alderwood Mall so it remains a regional gem and thrives. Continue to look for ways we can regionalize and be more efficient with our resources. In addition, maximizing the development potential of our downtown core and other required growth areas, while protecting our established neighborhoods will be an ongoing creative and important path.
Q: Where are your favorite places to spend time in Lynnwood?
Lynnwood more vibrant and robust — creating activities and community spaces where we can engage, do business and have fun in our own city! Check out these links of just some of my favorites:
- Lynnwood off-leash dog park — This place simply makes me happy.
- Cheesecake Factory — So fun and yummy, something for everyone, involved in the community and great customer service.
- Olympus Spa (AKA “The Naked Lady Spa”) — This traditional Korean-style day spa offers a beautiful, affordable, serene space for women to gather, relax and recharge. I love to spend quality time with our four daughters here.
- Black Box Theatre at Edmonds Community College — This is in the city of Lynnwood folks!
- Moonshine BBQ — So many freshly-made yummy items here. Interestingly, the owners, the Sprague family, are original settlers of Alderwood Manor/Lynnwood.
- Homage Senior Services — Many great resources here including the home of the Multicultural Senior Center with a variety of focuses such as Chinese, Latino/Hispanic, Korean, Russian/Ukraine, Filipino, Vietnamese and others.
- Todo Mexico — Local family managed. I get the cheese enchilada and chicken taco- they make my very favorite spicy jalapeño & mango margarita.
- Experience Momentum — Family owned and operated by stakeholders with true servant’s hearts consistently finding positive ways to benefit our community.
- City of Lynnwood Senior Center — Monday BINGO is my favorite and open to everyone for a small fee, starts at 12:30!
- Verdant and Hero’s Café — Verdant offers a wide-variety of free community programs. As a veteran, one of my favorite things they do is graciously host our monthly Hero’s Café and Veteran’s One Stop Shop — open to all veterans and their family members.
- Sparta’s Pizza — “Best Pizza in the Universe.” Longtime family owned and active in our community. It’s a family tradition.
- Lynnwood offers so many beautiful public green spaces and parks. One of my favorites is the hidden gem, Heritage Park, where my family, and many others, has a personalized brick in the ground (you can do this too by clicking here). There you can find a few of our city’s most historical buildings, an actual Interurban Trolley, our cool Northwest Veterans Museum and more snuggled in a beautiful park-like setting (great place for wedding and graduation photos too). This special link will tell you more about a variety of these city assets and more.
- Rila Bakery — Family owned, delicious French/Asian fusion fresh baked goods and a sweet place to visit with friends or do business — this is also in Lynnwood!
- Lynnwood Convention Center — A great place to meet and they also have great food and art here too.
- And, of course our gorgeous, robust and bustling Alderwood Mall, which is always fresh and inviting.
Q: Where can readers go to learn more about your campaign? (website and other contact information if applicable)
Sessions: Facebook Like/Follow Shannon Sessions Lynnwood City Council page, my website www.shannonsessions.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.