Skykomish candidates running unopposed

Councilmembers, mayor look at easy August primary

Kelly Sullivan

Skykomish incumbents seeking to retain their town council and mayoral seats are running uncontested this year.

Todd Brunner, whose company is working to complete restoration of the historic Skykomish Hotel, is running for Council Position 1; he was appointed to the seat last year.

He started out coming up to the Skykomish area on the weekends, and now has a permanent address in the community of 200 people that sits right off U.S. Highway 2.

“I like living in a small town, I like being able to walk to fishing,” he said. “I like being 15 minutes from skiing, and being able to walk across the street to go hiking. I have plenty of room for a garden, which has been doing pretty well this year.”

Brunner gave three main reasons why he signed up for the seat again.

The first is his hope to finesse the town’s budgeting and accounting strategies. The second is to refocus on planning and visioning. He said the right documents are available, and sure enough they have been followed quite closely but aren’t as much help as they could be sitting on shelves gathering dust.

Brunner’s third motivation is to improve communication. He said it is vital there is more interaction and participation by the town and its residents. His peer already has a handle on those plans, he said.

Shelly Farnham, who is running to keep her Council Position 2 seat, is a social psychologist who spent many years researching in Washington’s technology industry, and is also an artist in her spare time.

“My motto is literally ‘art, tech and community’,” she said. “... I am a big advocate for helping the community thrive through active collaboration.”

Farnham started the Electric Sky Art and Tech Weekend Retreat that has been running for the past three years. The plan was to help bring likeminded people from around the region to meet up and work together in her town, structuring the art retreat like a hackathon.

The small community was put through the ringer during the massive environmental cleanup conducted by Burlington-Northern Railway that took place from about 2006 to 2014. The town council incumbents believe it is ready for a recovery.

Farnham said economic recovery is a major to-do on her list. The town has been nursing itself in that direction since the cleanup ended. It took years to complete and hundreds of millions of dollars to lift up every structure in town, replace the soil beneath it, and put the buildings back on its foundation, she said.

The town pulls in about $450,000 in annual revenue, $150,000 of which is general purpose funds from property and business taxes. The remaining $300,000 comes from the city’s water and sewer systems.

Recreation is a huge potential avenue for creating a much-needed economic boost, Farnham said. The scenic surrounding forests, rivers and mountains have created a sense of stewardship within the community, which can be built on further, she said.

Access to the outdoors is what brought Frank Martin to the area years ago. He also started as a weekender, and then was moved to buy a permanent home in Skykomish. Now he makes the commute to and from Seattle for work just so he can live in Skykomish full time.

“It’s in the foothills of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the United States,” said Martin, who is running to retain his Council Position 4.

Martin agrees the town’s economy has faced challenges since the cleanup. Now he said it is time to get more housing and bodies into Skykomish, and create jobs for those people to fill.

The 40-year-old said he considers himself a fair-minded businessman who brings a youthfulness to the council. He has been a volunteer in a number of organizations, including nonprofit work. He said he is invested in seeing the town and the community succeed.

Skykomish’s Mayor Tony Grider is also running unopposed.

The primary is being held on Aug. 1.


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