Darren Robb

Darren Robb is Stanwood's newest council member.

New Mayor Elizabeth Callagan cast the tie-breaking vote to put Darren Robb on the Stanwood City Council.

Robb, 38, works in transportation policy for Snohomish County Public Works Transportation and Environmental Services. He's experienced in developing and managing public budgets and capital programs with fiscal accountability, he wrote in his letter of intent.

More than 40 people joined the online meeting Thursday night to hear six applicants speak for the council seat vacated when Callighan took over as mayor.

The applicants were Cody Davis, Angela Guadamuz, Marcus Metz, Robb, Larry Sather and Arne Wennerberg. Metz, Robb and Sather are on the Stanwood Planning Commission.

The first round of voting by the six council members narrowed the field to Sather and Robb. The second round ended in a 3-3 tie, leaving Callighan to cast the deciding vote for Robb.

“They had a really solid pool of candidates, a good cross section of the city. I honestly think the council couldn’t have made a bad choice,” Robb said. “But I’m happy to get on board and help move the city forward.”

Robb has served on the Stanwood Planning Commission since 2018 where he’s learned city plans and workings. He said he appreciates how the city got an early start on the 2023 Comprehensive Plan and involves the community in public Planning Café gatherings.

“The concern isn’t if Stanwood will grow, it’s how,” Robb told council members during his online interview.

Since the city will have to add nearly 400 housing units between now and 2043 to accommodate state Growth Management Act population projections, Robb encourages infilling before annexing land and expanding city boundaries.

He wants the city to focus on traffic, particularly traffic on Highway 532 and business on Main Street. He doesn’t want Stanwood to go the route that Monroe did, a city that developed around the highway. Instead, Stanwood needs to develop Main Street and needs to work with WSDOT to develop around the high school.

He’s interested but reserved about building a new City Hall out of the flood plain near the new high school. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, other projects may have priority, he said.

“I think really it comes down to growth and the various impacts that growth brings with it,” Robb told the Stanwood Camano News after the meeting. “Stanwood is a beautiful little city with a rural small town character, so naturally people are drawn to it. How do you retain that character as you grow?”

The people who move in also want to retain those things that brought them here, he said.

“If we can just understand that the growth is coming, ask ourselves, how do we handle that, and do it the Stanwood way,” he said. “We don’t have to do it the way everyone else does. What does a more populous Stanwood look like? It’s in our best interest to start that discussion now and be prepared for it in the long run.”

Contact reporter Peggy Wendel at pwendel@scnews.com or 360-416-2189.

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