By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
Three of the four candidates for Mayor of Lynnwood were on the campaign trail Thursday morning at the monthly Lynnwood Chamber meeting at Fairwinds-Brighton Court.
City Council President Loren Simmonds, City councilmember Mark Smith and current Edmonds Community College Dean of Student Life and Development Nicola Smith introduced themselves and took questions from chamber members. Incumbent Mayor Don Gough did not attend.
Nicola Smith noted that she is a political newcomer.
“I have not been involved in the city council or any political role in the city,” she said. “So I’m kind of coming in from this different angle.”
People encouraged her to run for mayor, Nicola Smith said, because they saw her leadership at Edmonds Community College and in the Lynnwood Rotary Club.
Nicola Smith cited the construction of Rainier Place, an on-campus residence hall for Edmonds Community College students as an example of her leadership.
“I put together a team of people,” she said. “I put together a private developer. I put together a national funding agency and, of course, I represented the college as a non-profit public organization. Bringing all those people to the table has built Rainier Place on our campus. … It’s a success story there.”
Simmonds noted that he has been a homeowner for 31 years and has based his business operations in Lynnwood for 28 years.
Lynnwood is a community with great potential, Simmonds said, but the city is suffering from the burden of great potential.
“We’re underachieving based on the opportunities that we have and the resources that we have,” Simmonds said.
Simmonds added that over a period of time some individuals he considers investors have because frustrated with the city and the administration and have moved on.
“From my perspective, much of the underachieving and failures that our community has experienced has to be laid at the feet of the current administration,” Simmonds said. “It may even go further back than that, but at least eight years, in my perception, we have not had a mayor who interfaces, who is really open and engaging to the business community. … We need a change at the top because the mayor’s office is the highest elected position in our city and the mayor sets the tone, establishes the culture in city hall.”
Mark Smith also touted his longtime roots, having grown up in the city. His parents still live in the house he grew up in.
“I’m running for mayor because this is an exciting time for Lynnwood,” Mark Smith said. “There’s a number of things that are happening or about to happen. We’re coming out of the recession. We’ve got light rail coming in 2023. We’ve started to plan for that. We need to continue planning for how light rail develops around the Lynnwood Transit Center and how that whole area develops around the light rail station. … Our city center is starting to take off. It’s been on the books for a long time. The recession killed us on that.”
Mark Smith also faulted the current mayor.
“The mayor needs to be a champion for the city, needs to be the person out there talking and meeting people and encouraging people to invest financially, emotionally in the city,” Mark Smith said. “He or she needs to be a person that is the cheerleader for the city and we certainly don’t have that now. In fact you could say we have the direct opposite.”