LETTER | Do We Need Another Larson?

Dear Editor,

The sign on a pickup truck seen around Snoqualmie asks: Do You Need Another Larson in City Hall?

Not only was it clever, it is thought-provoking. Do we? I know both candidates competing for the same position on the Snoqualmie City Council. I happen to like both gentlemen and have nothing against the Mayor or the job he’s doing as Mayor.

But do I want his brother, Joe Larson, on the council? I think not. Nor do I think the city needs another Larson representing us. Why?

It’s just not smart governance. The people’s business and the community’s best interests are not served well by nepotism. History tells us that nepotism is fraught with unavoidable problems and hidden agendas. It’s bad for business, most won’t allow it, and it’s been proven bad for governing. It doesn’t matter who it is, governing a city should not be a family affair.

We deserve and should be represented by a healthy mix of our population, representing our diverse population of age, interests and values. I urge you to re-elect Charles Peterson, beholden only to the community at large.

Sue Mackey,  Snoqualmie

Letter to Editor

Comments

  1. People who live in Snoqualmie need to be aware of the consequences of Joe Larson prevailing in his bid to win a seat on the council. One of the current Snoqualmie City Council Goals is to “foster transparent, effective communications/operations within and between the Mayor, Council Members, staff and our community”. Part of the council’s role is to approve proposals from the Mayor–who is his brother. If Joe Larson were to be elected, he would be in the position of voting on the Mayor’s agenda. It is absolutely critical to the integrity of the council to have those decisions viewed as objective. Because of the very close family connection, there would be an additional measure of scrutiny on city decision-making, possibly causing the council to be viewed with cynicism by citizens and other Snoqualmie stakeholders. I have met Joe; he has demonstrated a commitment to the community. But I have said to him in person what I will say here: Whatever his intent, his candidacy is gross miscalculation of the city’s politics. And for someone who wants to serve in the political arena, that is a miscalculation that cannot be overlooked in this election. He has virtually no support from business or political leaders in Snoqualmie for that reason. There may be a future for Joe Larson in Snoqualmie politics as an elected official, but not while his brother Matt is Mayor.

    • Brad, I just reviewed your personal statement online with the King County Election Office, and you state, “As a member on the council…” However, when I then refer to the City of Snoqualmie’s website, you are not on the City Council. You state your priority is “…truth and transparency of government…” so why are you dishonest and misleading in your personal statement in the voter’s pamphlet? Perhaps Joe Larson or Charles Peterson should have run against you for City Council.

      • Maddie, you are absolutely correct that I am not currently on the council and that I am running unopposed for my seat. You are welcome to your interpretation of my candidate statement, however harshly you judge it. But I can respectfully disagree on your charged characterization of my statement–and I do disagree. I am surprised that you didn’t mention that I misspelled the word ‘citizen’ in there.

        People can learn more about my service to the community and priorities for serving on the council at http://www.bradtoftforsnoqualmie.com. You can also reach out to me directly there.

        • Brad, you write in your statement, “As a member on the council…” You don’t state “when I am on the council” or “if elected to the council,” but you claim to currently be a member on the council. Please explain how else that is suppose to be interpreted. Your statement seems disingenuous at best and deceitful at worst. I am open to your interpretation. Please elaborate so there can be truth and transparency.

          • Maddie, I think I did in my last post. It is not my place to tell you how to interpret my voter pamphlet statement. I will say that I did have a handful of people review it when it was written; people that I and the public trusts. I did the same with my campaign website. The interpretation that you have was not mentioned to me by any of them. I have heard your criticism and respectfully responded to it. Between this conversation, my campaign website, and statement you refer to, there is probably enough there to decide how you will vote. Of course if you have other questions you can reach out via my website or call me directly. Respectfully, this discussion is about Joe Larson’s candidacy, so I am not going to dominate it with this discussion.

    • Brad, I reviewed your online personal statement with the King County Election Office, and you imply you are currently on the city council when you state, “As a member on the council…”

      http://info.kingcounty.gov/kcelections/candidatesonballot/pamphlet/pamphlet.aspx?cid=53860&listtype=FILING&eid=1266#c26789

      However, when I then refer to the City of Snoqualmie’s website, you are not listed as a member on the City Council.

      http://www.ci.snoqualmie.wa.us/CityGovernment/CityCouncil/MeetYourCouncil.aspx

      You also state your priority is “…truth and transparency of government…” so why are your words misleading in your personal statement?

      If Joe Larson, Charles Peterson, or a write-in candidate ran against you, your statement unfairly gives the impression you are the incumbent [when it appears you have not contributed to the city in any capacity pertaining to board, commission, or council membership].

  2. To the original post: it’s only nepotism if the Mayor appoints him. If he’s elected by the people it’s not nepotism. It may not be a preferred outcome but it is not nepotism. That’s a harsh term/accusation to make when misusing he term.

  3. Jessica Bailey says

    There may be varying definitions of nepotism but if any political favoritism is shown between the Larsons, whether real or perceived, then it’s a problem.

  4. In the interest of transparency, it may have been relevant to disclose the fact that Brad Toft is also running for a City Council position. I don’t know either candidate personally, but I wouldn’t just assume that Joe Larson would be in the Mayor’s pocket simply because they are related any more than I would assume Brad Toft is making a statement against him because perhaps they don’t see eye to eye on politics.

    There are 7 positions on the Council, so one person has only so much influence regardless what the circumstances are. If the best interest of the city is what we all focus on, and it should be, each individual needs to take the time to research every candidate and vote based on who best aligns with their thoughts on the future of our city.

  5. Heather Munden says

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I have the privilege of currently serving Snoqualmie residents on the City Council, and I do not endorse either candidate in this race, as I encourage the voters to research and decide who my co-worker will be next year.

    When it comes to smaller towns and civic-minded families, it is not rare for different family members, who don’t always see eye-to-eye, to hold elected office in the same district. This happened several times within municipalities close to Snoqualmie during the past several years (The Seattle Times ran a positive article on this very topic a few years back). As pointed out earlier in this blog’s comment section, it is not nepotism, and it is legal and ethical under current election code and state law to elect qualified candidates within the same district, even if they are related.

    An example of this took place not too long ago right next door in North Bend when the husband and wife team of Jack and Elaine Webber served on the North Bend City Council together at the same time. The following 2001 Snoqualmie Valley Record article (which has the incorrect date of Oct 3, 2008) highlights the family team who later served together on City Council:

    http://www.valleyrecord.com/opinion/30252604.html#

    On a positive note, we have civic-minded residents in Snoqualmie (two of them being Joe Larson and Charles Peterson) who want to make a real difference in our community, and we don’t have another uncontested race for City Council, which commonly happens. In contrast, another city across the Sound had national attention during this year’s primary election when an incumbent husband was opposed by his wife, when they ran against each other for the SAME elected position:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/married-couple-12-years-face-wash-election-article-1.2223494

    Our ballots arrive in the mail soon, and I encourage you to research the candidates and vote for the one who best represents you and your interests.

    Heather Munden
    City of Snoqualmie
    City Council, Position No. 5

  6. Heather, thx for the balanced and neutral info. Sue & Brad, where were your concerns of “nepotism” and “gross miscalculations” when the mayor appointed his brother to a volunteer position on the city’s planning commission? It is my understanding that most [if not all] of his appointments are unanimously approved by the city council [including Charles Peterson]. I guess there were no objections four years ago because it is difficult to find qualified residents to serve on board with no pay.

    My impression after reading this post is Sue & Brad are working to make an issue when none exists. It is nice to know differing perspectives. However, I like to make decisions on my own and not told, “…what I need to be aware of…”

    Joe Larson and Charles Peterson seem to be pillars of our community [this was after I reviewed Joe Larson’s and Charles Peterson’s websites]. We are lucky to have two outstanding candidates to choose from. I also did not notice an endorsement from the mayor for either candidate. This makes me think Joe may be running independent of his brother’s approval.

    I feel either candidate with serve Snoqualmie well. As for me, I live on the ridge and will vote for the candidate who most represents my young family’s demographics since I feel he will best represent our needs.

    • Maddie, as you addressed me directly in your post I will respond to your question about where my concerns were when Joe Larson was appointed to the planning commission. My concerns existed when I learned of his appointment as well—albeit well after the fact. It is notable that the Planning Commission is not the final word on legislation that is approved by the city–the City Council is. So concern is heightened due to the increased level of responsibility a council member has over a planning commissioner. I am not alone in that concern—not by a longshot—which is why Mr. Larson has little support in the way of endorsements on his campaign webpage.

      The questioning of intentions or attacks on credibility based on disagreement have little currency here. I advance my view on this topic because I believe that someone who is going to be serving on the council should speak with clarity on issues that impact the efficient function of the city.

      Ms. Munden, a likely future colleague of mine, appears to be advancing the argument that “Been done before, no law against it, nothing to see here.” To me, it seems such a very low bar to set. Public trust in government and other institutions is at critical lows. People who want to work in the political arena should have the highest goal of making government functional and transparent. They should also be able to understand the individual concerns of the people they serve–and serve with—and not be tone deaf to them. Every current council member (and several respected past council members) who live on Snoqualmie Ridge who have issued an endorsement, have done so in favor of Charles Peterson. That fact speaks volumes to everyone casting a vote regardless of your demographic.

      There may be a future for Joe Larson as a council member, but I do not believe it should be while his brother is Mayor. I know both the Mayor and Mr. Larson, and respect them both.

      Finally, you and I do share a point of agreement; people should do their own homework and be engaged in what is going on. And then vote.

      • Brad, it seems interesting you would publicly insult your potential colleague Heather Munden by stating she has a “very low bar.” When I read her comment I noted she was merely pointing out that it is ethical and not that rare for smaller communities to have civic-minded families involved in the community.

        When I scanned the family names of Snoqualmie residents involved on the council, boards, and commissions I see another Larson on the Arts Commission, two Prewitts (Mayor Pro Tem and Parks Board), two Hutchinsons (same person, but on two different boards), and two Evatts (same person, but on two different boards). I am sure there are more because not all family members have the same last name.

        It looks like you have your work cut out for you to clean house when/if you get into office. I guess the point you are promoting here is if a family wants to get involved with governance at the community level only one member can do it and all others should stay home.

  7. Kelly Spratt says

    Maddie and anyone else commenting against Brad Toft, please be careful. When Brad Toft ran for Senate in 2012, I attended two public events and shared, for example, that he was terminated from a job in which I worked for him. The next things that happened were life-changing for me: A pro-Toft letter was written about me and sent to two major school districts (The board as well as the PTSA chairs) stating I was mentally unstable and attacking his family and children. I was dragged into Issaquah District Court to respond to a restraining order from Toft, in which he failed miserably, but shared he successfully won in court, even going so far as to misrepresent the ruling Judge. I still suffer from false rumors that Toft fired me, when I’ve never been fired/terminated/asked to resign from any job I’ve ever held. Toft is being sued for Defamation as a result, and even after being sued, he reached out to the Snoqualmie community with a GoFundMe ask stating that his family was being politically attacked by some political powerhouse and they were cash-poor as a result of funding the lawsuit. Kicker is, Toft’s lawsuit is being paid 100% by his Homeowners Insurance company. He defrauded those who donated thousands of dollars, and changed the wording when he was caught “misrepresenting”.
    My point: Take great care to protect your identity, as one person will be labeled and blamed for any and all failures he brings on himself. I wish you all the best of luck with this guy sitting on council. You’ll need it.

  8. NO HE ALLOWS TOO MUCH DEVELOPMENT

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