Issaquah council considers five appointment candidates | Selection to be made May 2

As efforts to fill Jennifer Sutton's vacant seat on the Issaquah City Council continue, candidates to be appointed to the position made their case Monday night.

As efforts to fill Jennifer Sutton’s vacant seat on the Issaquah City Council continue, candidates to be appointed to the position made their case Monday night.

The five candidates to take over the second council seat were Mariah Bettise, Tim Flood, Daria Halkides, Essie Hicks and Justin Walsh.

Bettise, a professional human resources consultant and chair of the city Human Services Commission, moved to the city in 2000. She made “strategic planning” her catch phrase, citing its importance in her business, her pride in participating in a city SWOT analysis through the Economic Vitality Commission and her intent to continue strategic planning as a member of council.

“This has definitely been a time of pure joy and learning and growth for me,” she told the council Monday night.

Flood was Councilmember Bill Ramos’ opponent in the November 2015 City Council race and is a business analyst and current member of the city’s Traffic Task Force, which drafted a series of project recommendations in early April. Flood made traffic improvements and South Cove neighborhood representation major platforms in his electoral campaign. As an appointee, he said he would emphasize traffic, community ambassadorship, “modest” environmental proposals and the cration of public safety impact fees.

“As a member of the … Task Force, I am uniquely qualified to help the City Council as we work to improve our infrastructure as Issaquah and our neighboring communities continue to grow,” he wrote in his application.

Halkides is an environmental research scientist employed with a small nonprofit in Seattle. Halkides has been extensively involved in groups like the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society and the Earth and Space Research Educational Outreach. She said she wanted to bring an scientific perspective on the environmental impact of Issaquah’s changing building density.

“Because of all the construction and growth taking place, there are a lot of considerations that need to be taken into account because of the wetland environment,” she said.

Hicks is a business consultant, former vice chair of the 5th District Democrats and perennial candidate for public office. Most recently in January, she announced — and quickly rescinded — her candidacy for 5th District state representative. She told the council she believed she could provide continuity with Jennifer Sutton’s level of experience and education and that she could provide a voice for small business.

“I believe Issaquah’s greatest opportunities are in small business development,” she said. “It’s a great time for economic development and job creation.”

Justin Walsh is a local attorney — he is the founding partner of Issaquah Law Group — a member of the city Planning Policy Commission and chair of the county Civil Rights Commission. He said his planning policy experience gave him perspective on managing traffic and growth in the city without losing its “small town charm.”

“I grew up in Renton and when I moved to Issaquah, it was targeted,” he said. “… I wanted to move to a city that invested in its residents, both young and old.”

The sitting members of the Issaquah City Council will select an appointee for the empty seat at their May 2 meeting. Several members reassured the applicants that, even if they don’t make it, it would not mean an end to their political careers. Three of four previously appointed members of the council did not make the cut their first time, Tola Marts said.

“[Only] one of you is going to be successful,” Councilmember Paul Winterstein said. “But I don’t think for a moment it will end your continuing involvement with Issaquah if you don’t make it.”