Council race has pair in general accord

Kjell Stoknes and Doug Smith - Review file photos
Kjell Stoknes and Doug Smith
— image credit: Review file photos

Kjell Stoknes and Doug Smith both claim strong enviro-credentials.

No matter which way voters cast their ballots in the City Council’s Central Ward position 5 race, they’ll be electing a strong environmentalist with a desire to boost density downtown.

Vying to fill Deborah Vann’s soon-to-be vacant seat, Kjell Stoknes and Doug Smith agree that their only significant disagreement is on an issue in which they largely agree.

“I think Doug’s going to disagree with me over the ferry yard,” said Stoknes, a retired real estate appraiser and planner for the city of Kirkland.

“I feel the facility is out of scale with the harbor. The waterfront is such a scarce re­source and, although it’s part of our history, we’re moving more towards a recreational, leisure time community where I think we’ll start to see more tourism. But I think, in the short-term, it’s not worth fighting for.”

That’s because the state decided last year that Washington State Ferries’ main maintenance yard would stay put in Eagle Harbor.

While advocating a collaborative approach that could infuse the yard with local values or possibly initiate the yard’s slow, graceful exit, Stoknes believes fighting the state would be an uphill struggle.

“I don’t like spinning my wheels on battles I can’t win right now,” he said.

For Smith, a Seahawks sales executive turned stay-at-home dad, the campaign to remove the yard is of immediate importance.

“One way or another, I’m going to fight to get (the maintenance yard) out of Eagle Harbor,” he said, calling the facility an “incompatible and contradictory” part of the downtown waterfront.

Smith also has harsher words for WSF. He characterized a state study that backed the maintenance yard’s present location as “stinking to high heaven” and crafted through “backroom double-dealing.”

WSF’s efforts to sell the island on the Eagle Harbor location has been conducted like a “Karl Rove PR campaign” aimed at “heading off any backlash by citizen gadflies.”

Smith, a member of Winslow Tomorrow’s citizen committees, wants to “shepherd through” many of the project’s recommendations. He sees the redevelopment of the maintenance yard as key to a vibrant downtown.

A public boat yard on a portion of the land would make Winslow more appealing to water-borne tourists.

“If a visitor comes to our town without a car, that’s a win for everybody,” he said.

Smith said he’s “not hung up” on what should replace the yard but suggested possibly relocating the Playhouse, converting ferry warehouses into artist lofts or a water taxi dock linking people with Pritchard Park.

Stoknes, also a Winslow Tomorrow participant, wants to see increased density offered as an incentive for ground-level features that make “downtown an extremely pleasant place to congregate.”

Incorporating “eco-design” elements into city code is another area Stoknes would like to explore as a city councilman.

Both candidates expressed support for maintaining strong protections in the city’s Critical Areas Ordinance.

Smith said he would advocate for more tree preservation in large commercial and residential developments.

“If we’re not careful, somebody’s going to look up one day and say ‘Gee whiz, where’d all the trees go?’” he said.

Stoknes wants to maintain lower-density standards for developments near wetlands and toughen rules for the transfer of density rights near sensitive areas.

Both candidates said they were strong advocates for parks and non-motorized pathways. Smith characterized Waterfront Park as the “crown jewel” of the island and should only be altered with wide citizen support.

Stoknes said he’d like to see a 10-foot wide bike trail network linking the ferry terminal to various parts of the island, much in the same vein as the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle.

And on the topic of each other, both candidates only had kind words.

“I’ve met Doug and I think he’s a real likable guy,” said Stoknes.

“Kjell is a good guy,” said Smith. “I think we’d both do a good job.”

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