In the race for mayor of Sedro-Woolley, incumbent Julia Johnson and challenger J. Dennis O’Neil offer different skills and cite different priorities for the city.

Johnson said she believes she is better suited to the position due to her experience not only as mayor since being appointed in January 2018, but as a City Council member before that.

She said economic development — to create family-wage jobs and help alleviate the issue of housing affordability — is her priority.

“Sedro-Woolley is experiencing a housing growth ... However, we see the vast majority of their citizens needing to travel to other cities and counties to find work,” Johnson said. “We need more industrial and commercial businesses here, so that our citizens can live, work, and play in the city.”

She also said she believes the city has made strides toward those goals during her time as mayor.

O’Neil, who has not held public office, said he brings a different skill set to the table — one focused on finance and business management.

He said his priority is to address tax increases, but declined to expand on that .

“Dealing with rising taxes obviously hasn’t been addressed in the last two years but should be through better budgeting and spending habits by the city,” he said in his responses to a Skagit Valley Herald candidate questionnaire.

O’Neil said in a voter’s pamphlet compiled by the Skagit County Elections Department that he has heard complaints from residents about “never ending” increases to property taxes, utility taxes and fees.

Johnson said she believes the city has been transparent about its resources and strives not to overburden taxpayers.

“We do not raise taxes frivolously,” she said.

The two are expected to be among Sedro-Woolley candidates who will take part in a forum at at the Sedro-Woolley Municipal Building Council, 325 Metcalf St., at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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