News

Voters to decide who fills council vacancy

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

Whatever the outcome of next week's election for the City Council Position 7 race, Enumclaw residents will be getting a representative with a history of civic involvement.

The position is becoming vacant because incumbent Sean Krebs in challenging John Wise for the mayor's post.

Seeking the soon-to-be-empty seat are Athena Dean and Jeff Coats.

Each brings a background of service to the city. Dean has been active in the business community, volunteering her services to the Chamber of Commerce and, before that, the Enumclaw Downtown Partnership (as treasurer and president). She also has been involved with Arts Alive!

Coats was appointed to the city's Board of Adjustments, leaving that post when he was named to the Planning Commission. He also has served the King County Youth Accountability Board and been involved with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).

Coats, 42, has lived in Enumclaw for 11 years, first coming to southeast King County in 1987 after leaving active military duty. He has two grown children and he and wife Dayna have a 10-year-old son.

He's a staff attorney for an insurance company, maintains a small private practice and also serves as a judge advocate general in the Washington Air National Guard.

The candidate believes Enumclaw must retain its small-town charm and, to help accomplish that, he favors expanding the city's population only as much as state law requires. As a member of the Planning Commission, he said, he helped choose a future population number that was intentionally set relatively low. The city's wastewater treatment plant, when expanded and improved, will accommodate a population of 18,000, he said, noting the commission's desire to set a growth limit at 15,000.

Looking at Enumclaw's development, he favors infill over urban sprawl.

His key initiative would be to “really make the destination concept work,” referring to recent efforts to develop Enumclaw as a destination for tourists. Whatever shape the final plan takes, Coats figures the city's best bet is to capture tourist dollars.

He believes he has the skills to help make a tourism/marketing plan successful. “My style is to bring people together and make things happen,” he said, adding that he has connections throughout the county that would be beneficial.

Dean, 52, has lived in Enumclaw for six years, after moving her business from Mukilteo. The mother of a grown son, she has two grandchildren.

She ran for council once before, losing a close election two years ago to Jeff Beckwith.

She believes the city needs to be creative when looking to increase its revenues. The way to do it, she said, is by pulling tourists to town rather than boosting taxes locally. She has spearheaded a grassroots campaign that has garnered support for the recent tourism plan and believes development of a Welcome Center, better signage throughout town and continued revitalization of the downtown core are critical to Enumclaw's future success.

The key, she said, is to “get people to come here, shop here and go home.”

She has also made protecting senior citizens and improving both the city's parks and library services part of her campaign.

One thing that separates her from her opponent, Dean said, is her professional background. In fact, it separates her from the entire current council, something she sees as positive.

Unlike others, Dean is a business owner, which, she said, affords her a different perspective when it comes to raising and spending money, dealing with issues such as increasing health care costs and retaining quality employees. Such a business background, she said, “is sorely lacking on the Council.”

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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