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Thursday, September 8, 2005 - Page updated at 05:49 PM

Clarification: Kenmore City Council candidate Mark Eaton has a campaign Web site, http://home.comcast.net/~markceaton/forcitycouncil.html. A previous version of this story omitted his Web site.

Election 2005

What's in cards for Kenmore?

Seattle Times staff reporter

Blackjack dealers versus anti-gambling advocates and candidates weighing in on all sides of rolling dice are among the nine contenders vying for two positions in the Kenmore City Council primary.

Gambling and whether to expand the number of cardrooms in Kenmore has led to one of the most contested primaries in King County.

Nine candidates are vying to fill two positions in the Sept. 20 primary left open by political heavyweights in Kenmore's brief seven-year city history — the first mayor, Jack Crawford, and current Mayor Steven Colwell.

Two other candidates — Clyde Merriwether and Allan VanNess — are running for the third open council seat, currently held by Councilwoman Marcia Schwendiman. There is no primary for Position 6 because there are only two candidates, both of whom automatically advance to the general election.

New candidates will have to continue guiding the city's fledgling growth and tackle issues such as the expansion of Bastyr University, renovation of downtown and whether to expand gambling.

Kenmore's only cardroom is the 11th Frame Restaurant and Lounge in the Kenmore Lanes bowling alley and has been around since the 1970s.

Position 2 Patrick O'Brien, 50


Residence: Kenmore

Occupation: Auctioneer, real-estate agent

Personal: Single

Background: Board member of Solar Washington, an organization devoted to the effective use of solar and renewable energy

Campaign Web site: None listed

Laurie Sperry, 45


Residence: Kenmore

Occupation: Part-time teacher; former respiratory therapist

Personal: Married with three children

Background: Member of the steering committee to open a Life Choices Pregnancy Clinic in Kenmore; contributor to the Kenmore Heritage Society's book project.

Campaign Web site: www.lauriesperry.com

Rae Kelly


Candidate did not submit biographical information or photo

Position 4 Lou Ann King, 42


Residence: Kenmore

Occupation: Gaming dealer

Personal: Single, adoptive mother of one son

Background: Volunteer at Northshore schools

Campaign Web site: None listed

Randy Eastwood, 36


Residence: Kenmore

Occupation: Real-estate agent

Personal: Married with four children

Background: Appointed by the Kenmore City Council as first alternate on Downtown Task Force; Republican Party nominee for Congress in 2004

Campaign Web site: None listed

Robert "Bob" Black, 54


Residence: Kenmore

Occupation: None listed

Personal: Married with two children

Background: A volunteer community schoolteacher for 15 years

Campaign Web site: None listed

Did not submit photo

Mark Prince, 43


Residence: Kenmore

Occupation: Packaging designer

Personal: Single

Background: Served as chairman, treasurer and board member of the Society of Automotive Engineers in the Northwest for 14 years

Campaign Web site: None listed

Tim Gilchrist, 25


Residence: Kenmore

Occupation: Information-technologies consultant

Personal: Married with two children

Background: Spent two years as a missionary in Guatemala

Campaign Web site: www.gilchristforcouncil.com

Mark Eaton, 53


Residence: Kenmore

Occupation: Retired

Personal: Married with three children

Background: A retired diplomat for the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service. Citizen adviser on Kenmore planning commission from 2001 to 2003.

Campaign Web site: home.comcast.net/~markceaton/for
citycouncil.html

The 11th Frame operated under the political radar until businessman Len Griesel began trying to get city approval to build a cardroom in 1999.

The council enacted a five-year moratorium on new cardroom permits that allowed the 11th Frame to continue operating, but Griesel sued the city in December 2004 to end the moratorium and won. King County Superior Court Judge Terry Lukens said Kenmore must ban all cardrooms or allow applications for new ones.

Lukens' ultimatum has drawn fierce debate in the community. While gambling has taken center stage, candidates say the city has other issues to handle as well.

Bastyr University, which focuses on natural science, has proposed a 30-year, $200 million expansion and renovation that would double its size and student population. But some residents have complained the university's growth would increase traffic and congestion.

A downtown master plan was developed in 2003 to address transportation issues and to make Kenmore more attractive for businesses and commercial improvement. But there is still disagreement over how to proceed with the development. The following candidate profiles were gathered from interviews, public documents and surveys submitted by the candidates.

Position 2

Three candidates — Patrick O'Brien, Rae Kelly and Laurie Sperry — are running to fill Colwell's seat.

Sperry, a former respiratory therapist at Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center in Seattle, said her top priority is to ban the expansion of cardrooms. She said an explosion of cardrooms doesn't fit with a family-friendly city. She cites traffic congestion as another priority and wants to see continued improvement of Highway 522.

O'Brien, a real-estate agent and auctioneer, said he hopes to keep Kenmore's only cardroom but would vote to ban all gambling in the city if The 11th Frame cannot be excluded from the ban.

A board member of Solar Washington and an alternative-energies graduate of Western Washington University, O'Brien said the city needs to rethink the downtown master plan and timing of developments. He said the council needs to figure out how to integrate Bastyr University into the community, and he wants to encourage energy-efficient practices and incentives for local businesses.

Kelly, a gaming dealer at The 11th Frame, is still on the ballot but says she is not actively campaigning. Kelly said she tried to withdraw but acted too late to officially remove her name from the ballot.

Position 4

Six candidates — Lou Ann King, Randy Eastwood, Robert Black, Mark Prince, Tim Gilchrist and Mark Eaton — are contending for Crawford's seat. Gilchrist, Eaton and Eastwood all have said they would vote to ban cardrooms if elected. King, also an employee at Kenmore's only cardroom, and Prince have said the city needs to keep the cardroom.

In a candidate survey submitted to The Seattle Times, Robert Black did not address the issue of gambling. He said he has been disillusioned with how the current council has conducted itself over the past year and said his main focus would be to ensure citizens' rights and public safety.

Gilchrist, an information-technologies consultant, said his top priority is to ban cardrooms in the city because he believes they will deter businesses from coming to Kenmore. He hopes to generate revenue for Kenmore through implementing the downtown master plan and wants to avoid raising taxes.

Packaging designer Mark Prince said the council needs to back the current cardroom because making the longtime taxpayer move could send an unfriendly message to local businesses. He said the city needs to better manage its services and make sure they are paying the best rates for things such as garbage services.

Eaton, a retired diplomat who served in Africa and Asia, said he would vote to ban all cardrooms in the city. He said he is frustrated there has not been better implementation of the downtown master plan and hopes to move forward on plans to relieve traffic congestion and renew downtown.

A Republican Party nominee for Congress in 2004, Eastwood said he would vote to ban gambling but wants to also focus on solving traffic problems. Appointed to the Downtown Task Force, Eastwood said one of his priorities is to make Kenmore more pedestrian- and family-friendly and create more parks, trails and safe places for the community to gather.

King, also an employee at The 11th Frame, said she will vote to support her employer but fears the city is becoming infamous for its gambling disputes. King said she wants to focus the council's energies on developing Highway 522 and making the city attractive for businesses paying high wages.

Frank Evans, owner of the 11th Frame, said he will help fund King's and Kelly's campaigns as well as those of other gambling-friendly candidates. Evans said he is Kenmore's largest taxpayer, adding about $1 million to the city each year.

Another group, Citizens for a Better Kenmore, has endorsed all of the anti-gambling candidates, including Eastwood, Eaton, Gilchrist and Sperry.

Ari Bloomekatz: 206-464-2540 or abloomekatz@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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