ANACORTES — Three candidates are running for the Anacortes City Council Ward 2 seat, which is being vacated by Councilman Brad Adams, who has held the office since 2004.

The primary is Aug. 6 and will decide the two candidates in the November general election.

The candidates are Christine Cleland-McGrath, 34, a Realtor; Dom Tor Fleming, 52, a chief financial officer; and Sara Holahan, 66, a retired librarian. 

All three had sought the interim appointment in March of a vacant council seat. Cleland-McGrath and Fleming are first-time candidates for elected office, and Holahan ran unsuccessfully against Councilman Matt Miller in 2017. 

Cleland-McGrath is currently an Anacortes planning commissioner, a mayor-appointed position she has held since 2015. 

Cleland-McGrath said as a Ward 2 resident of 34 years and mother of an infant, she understands the challenges faced by young families. Those include housing affordability and access to supportive services such as child care. 

She said to address housing, Anacortes should coordinate with various groups and use programs that have been successful in similar communities.

More work is also needed to attract businesses that provide living-wage jobs to ensure young people can stay in Anacortes, and make students aware of careers in local industries, she said. 

"We need to prepare our students from Anacortes ... for options and jobs that are available here, encouraging maritime-related jobs and technical-related jobs that the refineries offer," she said.

Fleming is a chief financial officer for Recruiting Bandwidth, a Seattle-based company. 

With projected population growth, Fleming said Anacortes needs to be planning 30 years into the future. He said his experience managing a large, complex organization would translate well into duties as a City Council member.

Fleming said he would prioritize the development of affordable housing not just by offering developers incentives to include affordable units, but by pushing for an inclusionary zoning program that mandates it.

"I would like us to re-energize our efforts to address homelessness, affordable housing and jobs in Anacortes," he said. "I think that a pair of fresh eyes and fresh perspective can help move things forward that seem like they're jammed in the system."

Holahan said sustainable growth is the biggest challenge facing Anacortes. If elected, she said would advocate for renewable energy use, including residential solar panel installations and city use of electric vehicles, and support efforts to increase walkability and alternative transportation.

Holahan said Anacortes has a duty to uphold existing environmental protection requirements around wetland protection and stormwater management. 

As for economic development, Holahan said a forward-thinking city will encourage businesses to locate in Anacortes.

"(Young people) are looking for a quality place to live, and that's what you can do to attract business," she said.

Holahan said as a retired, professional woman, she represents a significant segment of the Anacortes population currently missing from the City Council. 

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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