Election 2021: Shirley Sutton, campaigning for Lynnwood City Council Position 1

Shirley Sutton

With the primary election set for Aug. 3, multiple people have filed to run for Lynnwood City Council and Mayor.

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.

Shirley Sutton is a former Lynnwood City Councilmember who served from 2015-19. She is campaigning for the council’s Position 1 seat against Nick Coelho and Christine Eck. The seat is currently filled by Councilmember Christine Frizzell, who is running for mayor.

Q: Why are you running for Lynnwood City Council? What do you hope to accomplish?

I’ve lived in Lynnwood for almost 20 years. I love my neighbors and want the best for them. The light rail will bring more residents and businesses so we will grow exponentially, but we must make sure Lynnwood remains safe, welcoming and affordable and responds to the needs of its residents.

Q: What is your 10-year vision for Lynnwood?

I envision a model city that is safe, welcoming and affordable. There will be a free shuttle that loops around the city from 5 a.m. to midnight taking people to the bus, the train or local stores so there is no need to have a car or find parking. That shuttle will be a source of community bonding and anticrime strategy, as illegal activities lower when we know our neighbors. It will be a culturally rich city with galleries, theaters, concert venues and free community activities every weekend, so our residents don’t need to go to Seattle for their fun fix.

Our city will be carbon neutral, and all municipal vehicles will be electric or hybrid. We will aim for zero waste, emphasizing composting and recycling everywhere possible, with (Lynnwood) City Hall setting the example. We will expand access to the (Lynnwood Recreation Center) to low-income families so their kids can go to camp and enjoy the amenities. We will promote wellbeing among our residents with free fitness programs in our parks year round.

Q: In your opinion, what is Lynnwood’s most pressing issue and what are your solutions for resolving the problem?

The main problem is affordability. Lynnwood has become very expensive to longtime residents who are being taxed out of their homes. The majority of our residents are renters and after the teaser period is over, most leases are out of reach for working families. Renters are always moving, looking to pay less rent and they rarely meet their neighbors, which is a problem in itself as people need a network to help them deal with emergencies and to live a more fulfilling life. Lynnwood is becoming an anonymous city where nobody feels connected and this lack of community is the breeding ground of vandalism and crime. 

Q: What ideas do you have for addressing the city’s homelessness issue?

First and foremost, we need to prevent homelessness. It is five times less expensive to help a renter avoid eviction than to find housing for a homeless person. We need to establish a system of rent assistance for emergencies and partner with local nonprofits and be proactive not reactive. We need to have close ties with the community so we can address their needs in a timely manner, preferably before eviction notices are sent. We should give incentives to developers so they have apartments for households that are at 50% or lower of the median income. We should reward private landlords for accepting housing vouchers. We can divert some of the sales tax money to these efforts.

Q: With the creation of the housing action plan and other blueprint policies, what are your thoughts and ideas for addressing Lynnwood’s need for more diverse housing types?

We should be open to high rises and rezoning for multiple family dwellings. With enough outdoor space, parks and ample public transit, a higher density city is livable and even desirable. New apartment buildings must offer units for households at 50% or lower of the median income if they want some of their impact costs lowered. These costs must be paid not only at construction, but during the life of the building, so a ratio of low income housing is maintained.

Q: What experiences would you bring to the council and how are they relevant to the position?

I’ve lived in Lynnwood for 20 years. I have a bachelor’s in law and justice and a master’s in education. I worked at Edmonds College and was elected to (Lynnwood) City Council. I have received awards for my community activism from the NAACP and other organizations. I served on several commissions, task forces and committees (planning, marketing and branding, immigrant task force, etc.). I know how city hall works and the many ways we can save money without hurting services. I have knocked on more than 6,000 doors and heard my neighbors’ concerns. I want them voiced on the city council.

Q: How do you plan to involve residents from communities of color and low-income communities in becoming more civically engaged?

I have very close ties to organizations that serve people of color. I am African American and I am lucky to have many Latino friends, so I really have my finger on the pulse of the communities of color. Many of them are overwhelmed with the day-to-day struggle of providing for their children and trying to make ends meet on minimum wage. If we want them engaged, we need to plan public meetings at THEIR convenience, not OURS. We must find out about THEIR concerns, not OURS. A four-hour meeting is impossible to attend for a young mother of three, so we must reformulate the way we engage with these groups, probably changing times and dates of meetings to weekends and providing child care and amenities for children so the parents can attend. 

Q: Why should residents from communities of color and LGBTQ residents vote for you?

I am African American and I am proud of my strong ties to my Latino neighbors whom I consider family and many local minority owned businesses. I am also a staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights. When I worked at (Edmonds College) I formed the first LGBTQ club so everybody would feel welcome. I have their best interest at heart. I have been working with vulnerable populations for decades, so that shows my dedication to them is true and sincere, not politically motivated. 

Q: As we continue to hear stories about law enforcement using unnecessary — and deadly — force against many people, particularly people of color, what thoughts do you have on policing for our city that will ensure Lynnwood’s diverse community can feel safe and welcome?

Body cameras should be mandatory, period. I don’t understand why some people are reluctant as cameras will absolve good officers and weed out bad apples. Visual evidence is powerful and we need transparency in the interaction between police and residents, especially minorities.

Additionally, we should have opportunities for friendly interaction between our kids and police officers, so they grow to know each other by first name if possible and they will build a bond of trust.

Q: Following the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, what plans do you have for helping to ensure the financial stability of our town? 

We should have a complete directory of local businesses and we should go to each of them to ask how we can help them recover. The CARES grants did not reach many minority owned businesses who were the ones that needed them most. We need to make sure the help gets to them. First come, first served leaves the most vulnerable behind. It’s imperative to forge strong ties with all the local businesses. Our city’s prosperity is closely tied to their success as they hire locally and their employees are more likely to spend locally as well.

Q: Where are your favorite places to spend time in Lynnwood?

The parks are my favorite. Lynnwood is blessed with amazing parks. I like to walk in a different park each week. I meet my neighbors and that makes the walk twice as fun. I also have many favorite restaurants in Lynnwood and the list is long, but I’ll mention the top three: Sparta’s Pizza, Teriyaki Plus and Applebee’s.

Q: Where can people contact you to learn more about your campaign?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.