Lynnwood’s City Council candidates weigh in on cultural identity

Our 5-part Q/A series showcasing Lynnwood’s City Council candidate views on top issues continues

By LUKE PUTVIN luke.putvin@lynnwoodtimes.com

Ahead of the Aug. 6 primary election, the Lynnwood Times will be asking a series of questions to the Lynnwood’s City Council candidates who will be on the primary election ballot. Because Lynnwood’s City Council Candidates Position 6 automatically advanced to the general election, they will not be featured in our primary election Q&A series.

The questions asked were compiled from a community survey conducted by the Lynnwood Times to residents asking, “What do you feel are the important issues facing Lynnwood and why?”  From about 100 responses the questions fell into three basic categories: Cultural Identity, Growth, and Quality of Life.

All primary election Lynnwood’s City Council Candidates were given a week to submit their answers of no more than 300 words. In this issue, we received responses from 10 of the 12 Lynnwood’s City Council candidates prior to our press deadline. If you missed each candidate’s answer to last issue’s question, “Why are you running for office and why should voters vote for you?“, click on the link to read it.

Retail and Tourism are major economic drivers in Lynnwood. According to a 2016 Dean Runyan & Associates Economic Impact Report, visitors spent $300.2 million dollars in Lynnwood and travel generated employment accounts for almost 3,300 jobs which, at that time, accounted for 18.4% of the total employment of Lynnwood.  The report further mentioned that Lynnwood accounts for 30% of visitor spending in all of Snohomish County, and 60% of visitor spending on lodging occurs in Lynnwood.  To put it simply, Lynnwood is more than just Alderwood Mall.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, Lynnwood is the most ethnically diverse city in Snohomish County with almost 40% of its population represented by people of color; a percentage that is expected to grow.  With the development of City Center bringing new entertainment and Light Rail scheduled to complete in 2024, this week’s question will focus on Cultural Identity. 

Many of you wanted to know what the candidates felt made Lynnwood stand out amongst its neighbors and how can its representatives capitalize on that uniqueness. The questions posed in this issue to candidates were:

  1. How would you define the cultural identity of Lynnwood?
  2. What policies would you support to further it?

Lynnwood’s City Council Candidates, Position 4

Naz Lashgari

Naz Lashgari
Naz Lashgari

1. Cultural identities are influenced by several different factors, such as skin color, gender, religion, class, language, education, political views, and family. The census since July 1, 2018 shows that the population of our city is 38,511 people strong, and the fabric of our city is woven by 54.9% White, 17.1% Asian, 13.3% Hispanic-Latino, 5.5% African-American, 6% foreign born.

A strong cultural identity is important in the health of a growing city like Lynnwood. I want to be proactive in managing that growth while maintaining our cultural identity, as our city continues to grow.

Cultural identity is the sense of belonging and security towards a culture that can be justified with a shared set of principles or beliefs of living, and provides people with support and shared values. The City of Lynnwood is successful in supporting these values as a safe, livable city where all are welcome, and that is the fabric of our cultural identity in Lynnwood.

2. The strategic plan of the City of Lynnwood for managing the inevitable growth of our city in the coming years is laid out excellently, with very comprehensive plans to make sure that the cultural identity and fabric of our city remains intact, despite the growth.

As the Vice Chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commission, I have had the opportunity to attend many meetings at the City of Lynnwood and have witnessed firsthand the excellent job of planning ahead, while projecting growth and moving the city forward.

I will support the strategic plan of the City of Lynnwood in bringing the community’s vision to life as we move forward to ensure economic success for our city, while making sure we continue to be a safe, livable and welcoming city.

Jim Smith

Jim Smith
Jim Smith

1. Throughout the past several decades, Lynnwood has become more and more representative of Puget Sound as a whole. But Lynnwood’s cultural identity goes far beyond any one category. There has been an aging of the local residents as well as a welcome influx of new, and varied, senior housing facilities. Lynnwood should be honored to be chosen by many senior citizens to live in Lynnwood. And our culture has historically included providing the services and amenities to support all our citizens.

2. Lynnwood should also be developing several community events. Bringing more festival-type programs to Lynnwood would bring multi-generational residents together as well as a multitude of cultures. Every city around us has several festivals. Lynnwood is sorely lacking in that area…and it isn’t that hard to do!

James Rutherford

James Rutherford
James Rutherford

1. The cultural identity of Lynnwood is a small town atmosphere low income senior based, most of which are barely making ends meet. We will soon see a stronger base of seniors that possess a low to mean income but still keeping Lynnwood the low income high tax community we are today. We have a large amount of so called low income housing that don’t meet the needs of these people. Now with light rail coming the city’s income level should increase reducing the senior housing. This needs to be watched.

2. What policies would I support not knowing the policies out there? I couldn’t support any that reduce senior housing and increase taxes.

Ashkan Amouzegar

Ashkan Amouzegar
Ashkan Amouzegar

1. It would be too simplistic to define our cultural identity with a series of demographic statistics because we are more complex than that. The cultural identity of Lynnwood is defined by diverse identities, heritage values, expressions of self, connectedness and even disconnectedness. Our identity as a city is a narrative of experiences beginning in our homes to our neighborhoods and outward into the city through our individual socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

2. My journey to enrich the cultural identity of Lynnwood really took off when I was appointed to the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission in February 2019. Through inclusive outreach and public engagement, we can support an increasingly culturally rich community. We can achieve this by first building relationships and identifying key individuals in specific groups such as the dialogue between South Lynnwood residents and Parks and Recreation, and the revitalization of its community spaces. Secondly, we are creating a welcoming platform that maintains presence for citizen engagement such as online forums, informal gatherings, by phone or by mail. Next, I support increased accessibility through multilingual options in accessing services with racially and culturally appropriate options. It is essential that we partner with diverse organizations to eliminate and bridge gaps; visible or perceived. I support policies that invite citizens to open up the possibility of moving Lynnwood forward in a way that elevates and brings equity to as many people as possible.

Diodato Boucsieguez

Diodato Boucsieguez
Diodato Boucsieguez

1. When I moved here in August 2015 to attend school at UW, I was drawn to Lynnwood’s identity of being a wholesome bedroom community. What further drew me to Lynnwood is that it’s a place where families can live, thrive, and survive in relative harmony. It’s united by the commonality that many people work in the surrounding big cities and then come home to Lynnwood, enjoying the natural beauty and peaceful serenity of suburban life in the Pacific Northwest.

2. Lower local property and sales taxes–High property and sales taxes are spiraling out of control both in California and Lynnwood. These high taxes threaten to force lower to middle income families as well as small business out of our community. I will fight to lower these taxes.

Homelessness–As someone who was once homeless, I understand that it’s a multifaceted problem. The city cannot go it alone in fighting this problem which is why I will work with local, county, and state agencies in addition to the invaluable resources of private charities and organizations dedicated to helping people get off the street to fix this problem.

Urban sustainability–Growth and progress in Lynnwood is inevitable; living in a large metropolitan area makes urban spread a given. However, this does not mean that the character of the city should be discarded nor that the middle class be priced out of where they’ve lived peacefully for, in some cases, over 50 years. I believe there is a future for the middle class in Lynnwood and, if I have the honor being elected to city council, they will continue to thrive here.

Van AuBuchon

This Lynnwood’s City Council Candidate was unable to respond.

Lynnwood’s City Council Candidates, Position 5

David Schirle

David Schirle
David Schirle

1. From the time when Lynnwood began its real growth in the 1960s until now, Lynnwood has been a place to call home while working somewhere else. With a rural feel, for those who did not want the urban lifestyle. Today Lynnwood is a mix of retail business, light manufacturing, apartment and single dwelling housing.

2. If we wish to keep this unique lifestyle, then we must plan for the future urbanization which is coming our way. Protect our green spaces.

Rosamaria Graziani

Rosamaria Graziani
Rosamaria Graziani

1. Lynnwood is a thriving city that benefits from being so close to Seattle. It is family oriented; its many parks are gorgeous and at just $3, the REC pool is the most fun for miles around. We have many movie theaters, restaurants and the state’s biggest mall.

At first sight, Lynnwood looks like a community of single-family homes, but renters outnumber homeowners two to one. Almost one thousand people a day move to the county and our housing infrastructure is stretched thin. Our neighbors include many minorities and foreign-born residents.

2. Homeowners on fixed incomes are being taxed out of their homes, and renters often have to move when the rent goes up. This instability erodes our social fabric. When neighbors don’t know neighbors, crime goes up and there is no sense of community.

High taxes and affordable housing are the biggest concerns. The city should find ways to help low income residents save money. I propose:

  • Waiving the $40 transportation fee imposed by Lynnwood on the car tabs.
  • Relief from high taxes and expensive utilities.

Many residents are one emergency away from being homeless. I propose a community fund to make interest-free emergency loans.

We have to build community and encourage pride in our city. The Fair on 44th is a step in that direction, but residents need more opportunities to come together. I propose:

  • Indoor/covered playgrounds so kids can play in rainy days.
  • Opportunities for small business owners and the self-employed to meet, perhaps by having the Senior Center open longer hours
  • Free pick up service of old furniture and appliances once a year for Spring Cleaning.
  • A Fourth of July Community Picnic, so natives and newcomers can celebrate our nation’s birthday together.

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby
Julieta Altamirano-Crosby

1. In the 60 years that Lynnwood has been incorporated, there still remains values that pioneers had before this area became a city. People started moving to this area in the early 1920s buying parcels of land to live a self-reliant and sustainable life by operating and living on a small farm. It wasn’t unit 1965 when I-5 was opened that started the change from independent farms to the beginning of the commerce capital Lynnwood is today. Even though it may not be selling eggs to make an earning, Lynnwood remains a place where hard working people choose to settle in and call home.

Many visitors come here with the perspective that Lynnwood is just a place for shopping. They are surprised to find it is truly a great deal more. Beautiful neighborhood parks, a thriving business environment, and engaged community members, show visitors that Lynnwood is more than a mall. With a diverse commerce including many family owned businesses in addition to the mall, Lynnwood is rightfully known as a resourceful destination.

2. Lynnwood’s population triples during each day from people visiting, which does have an impact on our identity. The wear and tear on our roads and increased need of law enforcement should not be a concern for people who just want to settle into their homes. Local government should be working to manage the city’s daily and future growth. Staffing and proper zoning is important to strike a balance where business can thrive, yet protect the privacy of our neighborhoods.

As for cultural, I support the mayor’s initiative to empower co-creators. I believe our culture comes from the people, not seven members sitting on council. By working with community leaders to hold events and presentations we can achieve a true representation of our cultural identity.

Lynnwood’s City Council Candidates, Position 7

Shannon Sessions

Shannon Sessions
Shannon Sessions

1. Lynnwood has a very diverse community, and it’s important that we continue to find ways to enhance and grow these relationships. We need to continue to establish a variety of trusted leaders to help build bridges between the city and our ethnic, faith and segmented communities.

2. In my first term on the Lynnwood’s City Council, I have supported a variety of resolutions and changes that are necessary in the process of building more trustworthy, open relationships with a variety of groups in Lynnwood. Such as, advocating and attending citywide racial equity training, adopting a resolution to make Lynnwood a safe and welcoming city, strengthening the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission and voting to establish the city’s first Human Services Commission, to name just a few. I will also continue to support our Human Resources Dept. as they find creative, meaningful ways to engage future employees who look more like the people we serve.

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae
Maggie Mae

1. Lynnwood is more culturally diverse than Washington State as a whole. We have higher-than-average populations of non-english primary speakers as well. In fact, only 42% of the residents of Lynnwood were born in our state.  32% of the population of Lynnwood are foreign born persons. This is a testament of how attractive Lynnwood is as a place to both live and work

2. Picture Lynnwood as a large-scale farmer’s market. People are free to engage in trade with one and other, associate and grow together — I support reducing barriers to establishing and expanding businesses, wherever possible. 

Our wonderful foreign language speakers should be able to quickly set up to tudor children and adults. Diverse churches and religions should be supported and encouraged to flourish. It is our job on the city council to remove as many barriers as possible that are holding people back. Peaceful people wishing to contribute to the community are encouraged and welcomed.

Shirley Sutton

Shirley Sutton
Shirley Sutton

This Lynnwood’s City Council Candidate was unable to respond.

Mario Lotmore

Mario Lotmore is originally from The Bahamas and for the last seven years has called Mukilteo, WA his home. Having lived in every region of the United States has exposed him to various cultures, people, and approaches to life. Lotmore created the Lynnwood Times to represent the character of a diverse and growing Lynnwood. The launching of the city’s free community newspaper will only help bring neighborhoods together. Lotmore was an industrial engineer by trade and proven success implementing and managing lean accountable processes and policies within his eighteen years of operations excellence, strategic development, and project management in the aerospace, manufacturing, and banking industries. Over his career he has saved and created hundreds of union and non-union jobs. Lotmore is the President of a Homeowner Association, an active Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics volunteer in his community, and former Boeing 747 Diversity Council leader. Mario’s talent is finding “that recipe” of shared destiny to effectively improve the quality of life for others.

Mario Lotmore has 890 posts and counting. See all posts by Mario Lotmore

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