2022 Council members zoom.jpg

City council members and city staff met in the first online meeting of 2022 with some new faces. Top row: Finance Director David Hammond, Public Works Director Kevin Hushagen, Community Planning Director Patricia Love, City Administrator Shawn Smith. Middle row: Council members Marcus Metz, Darren Robb, Dani Gaumond, Andreena Bergman. Bottom row: Council members Steve Shepro, Mayor Sid Roberts, Tim Schmitt, Timothy Pearce.

The Stanwood City Council begins 2022 with four fresh faces, a new mayor and a long to-do list.

Gone are longtime city leaders, such as former Mayor Dianne White, who did not seek re-election. And with them go much of the firsthand memory of council action going back decades.

“It’s hard to replace that experience, knowledge and expertise, with Dianne serving the city in so many capacities,” council member Darren Robb said. “I’m hopeful and optimistic that, though the council isn’t as experienced as it was a month ago, the new council is bringing excitement and optimism to these big efforts already underway. We’re in a good position to move Stanwood forward on the path that’s already in place with some new blood.”

Four of the seven council members are new: Marcus Metz, Tim Schmitt, Dani Gaumond and Andreena Bergman.

Bergman lost her bid against Metz in November's election, but the council on Thursday voted her into the seat vacated when Sid Roberts took the mayor’s seat.

Steve Shepro and Darren Robb joined the City Council in 2019 and 2020, respectively, after each first getting involved with the city in 2018 as members of the planning commission.

Council member Timothy Pearce now has the most experience, having served since 2003 with two terms on the planning commission 2003-2009 and 2013-2015. He's now in his second term on the council, serving 2009 to 2013 and again in 2016 to the present.

New members, new priorities

Metz, who won White’s vacated seat, served on the planning commission since 2018, where he said he developed a deep understanding of zoning codes and city development standards and how things have come to be as they are now. The 32-year-old Stanwood native is the youngest council member but has seen a lot of change in the city.

“Traffic congestion on Highway 532 is a big issue for me and most of everyone who uses it,” Metz wrote in an email to the Stanwood Camano News. “Beyond that, my priorities are to move City Hall and the police station to better locations. Given intelligently managed growth by our local government, and the people of the community doing their part, I see Stanwood continuing to be a nice place to live for years to come.”

While Schmitt hasn’t been a Stanwood resident long, he’s regularly attended council and planning meetings for a few years. Now he has a council seat and a vote.

In an email, Schmitt wrote about what he’d like to accomplish. Some are items that the council has been working on, including siting a new City Hall and “channeling Stanwood's growth into the right areas while preserving its rural charm.”

He also wants to help Stanwood lower flood insurance rates. He offers new ideas, such as making the mayor’s position full-time and “enacting a citizen’s initiative process as an outlet against council lethargy.”

Gaumond has no city experience, but she’s eager to get started. Her priorities for the city include supporting healthy relationships with local businesses and focusing on infrastructure.

“The more successful (businesses) are, the more successful our city is,” she wrote. It’s “important that our infrastructure such as roads, bridges, utilities, water and sewer can handle the continued growth of our population.”

She wants the city to cater more to families with parks, recreation and more family-friendly stores.

“I also see us celebrating more of the rich history of Stanwood and incorporating that into fun weekend activities,” she wrote.

Bergman wrote in an email that Stanwood had positive things lined up and that she’s looking forward to see how the beautification project and the parks and trails develop.

“I’d like to focus on the roads and maintenance and supporting our local economy to keep Stanwood prosperous. I’ve got some fun event ideas that I hope will be a tradition that Stanwood will love and continue for years to come,” Bergman said. “Most importantly I want the community to know I’m here to listen.”

Current projects still a priority

The three returning council members said there are plenty of ongoing projects they want to see to fruition in addition to entertaining new ideas. 

Shepro said the city's juggling a variety of issues, but his priority is “parks, parks, parks.”

He said the council has been talking about creating a city parks department but nothing has happened. "I would like that to get resolved this year.”

Another top priority for Shepro is downtown beautification that involves unifying Main Street businesses from one end to the other.

“I’m on the record for not having City Hall next to Church Creek Park,” he said. ”I think we need to make a statement with the buildings we spend a lot of money on. Building a new City Hall might not be popular with the voters; we may not get one. But we need to build a police station and get it out of the floodplain. I don’t have all the information I would need to make an educated decision yet.”

Shepro plans to be involved in the process to update the city's Comprehensive Plan, which outlines how Stanwood will look in the future. It affects things such as where apartments are built and how traffic flows.

“When we allocate money to streets, we might go back to the Comprehensive Plan to guide us. If we say, every street in the city is built with a sidewalk at least on one side, we can refer to that,” Shepro said.

Robb said choosing the site for the civic campus is among his priorities.

“We’ve got a lot on our plate, a lot of priorities,” said Robb, adding that finding the best use for federal COVID relief money to support local businesses and focusing on city parks are among other important goals.

“As an individual council member, fiscal accountability is at the top of my list right now,” he said, adding that the council will soon start working on the 2023-24 budget.

He points out the importance of economic development, building a sustainable economy.

“Public safety and transportation are two of my primary focuses, and that’s not going to change anytime soon,” Robb said. “Overall Stanwood has a bright future. We have this growth, and we have a lot more coming our way — who wouldn’t want to live here?”

Robb said he wants to manage that growth and keep the town “still being the Stanwood that brought us here and kept us here.”

Pearce said he wants to continue to develop the city’s parks and trails.

“These amenities are so important to our families and new residents joining our community," he said. "I really believe that we need a parks and rec department and director."

Regarding flood control, Pearce wants to continue discussions with BNSF Railway about installing sea/floodwalls during flood watches and warnings. And he’d like to separate the City Hall and police buildings.

“I really believe that City Hall should remain in the downtown, the heart of our city, however it is very important to get the police station out of the flood plain,” Pearce said.

Mayor lays out his vision

When Mayor Sid Roberts took office November, he said he’d do a lot of listening to the city’s highly qualified staff. But he also has some things to say.

Roberts is on board with creating a solid Main Street business district to serve residents and attract tourists.

“The vision is to see the full Main Street, as they say, ‘from park to park,’” he said.

The city recently bought a small lot in east downtown by the railroad tracks for a small city park. The city also owns a lot next to City Hall on the west side.

“It would be a full 1-mile boulevard. You begin to see what Main Street can be,” he said, crediting others for the idea. “I want to see Main Street revitalized. Not just a city center on each side of town.”

He’d also like to see some public restrooms and internet hotspots in town.

Roberts said he wants to prioritize parks and Port Susan Trail. He wants to see a city park near the housing on the hill, but it’s complicated with developers putting in private green spaces in the developments.

“I’m really worried about traffic on 532, we’ve got to start the process. I want to keep the look and feel of Stanwood the same. Growth is here and we have to manage it,” he said.

He said it’s time with the new council to “get City Hall figured out and get that process started. We have a new council, but there’s a lot of equivocation. Will it include the police department? Will it be uptown or downtown?”

“It’s time now with a new council and new information we’ll get that figured out,” Roberts said.

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

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