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Originally published Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 8:36 PM

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5 in race to replace John Koster on Snohomish County Council

The seat held by the Snohomish County Council’s lone Republican is up for grabs this fall, and voters in the Aug. 6 primary election will decide which two of five candidates will advance to the final contest in November.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The seat held by Snohomish County Council’s lone Republican is up for grabs this fall and voters in the Aug. 6 primary election will decide which two candidates will advance to the final contest in November.

Ballots for the primary will be mailed by Thursday.

County Councilman John Koster is finishing his third term, all that’s allowed under Snohomish County’s term-limits laws.

“I think it’s essential for good government to have a balance,’’ Koster said. “I don’t think one-party control at any level is good for the citizenry. I think you need a diversity of opinions.’’

The five candidates vying for the seat include two Republicans, two Democrats and one Libertarian.

District 1 represents the cities of Stanwood, Granite Falls, Arlington and Marysville and the surrounding unincorporated area in the northern half of Snohomish County.

The candidates’ agendas range from making the county a favorable climate for business growth to bringing local farm products to the school-lunch program.

District 4 and 5 are also up for election, but the two candidates in each of those races will automatically advance to the general election.

Republicans Ken Klein, Gary Wright

Arlington City Councilman Ken Klein, 34, is the only candidate who has experience as an elected official.

The married father of three says his primary concern is making the county friendly for businesses of all sizes. He says he has worked for businesses both large and small and knows “the impact government can have on business.’’

With that in mind, he favors a county government that encourages business growth.

Klein, a Republican who comes from a long line of dairy farmers, advocates property rights and said he would oppose any government attempt to impose more restrictions on private landowners.

He also believes in preserving the county’s farmland and favors working collaboratively with other agencies to build roads needed to support business growth.

Klein is vice chairman of the Snohomish Planning Commission and formerly served on the Arlington Planning Commission. He has a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University in business administration and finance.

He works as an operations-support manager for a food-service company that provides service to Microsoft’s Redmond campus.

He reports raising $24,000 in campaign contributions.

Republican Gary Wright, 69, is on the Snohomish County Economic Development Task Force, the county’s Transfer and Development Rights Committee and the Marysville downtown revitalization committee.

He says it’s this background and his years of experience as a real-estate broker that make him a good fit for the county.

At a time when the state Growth Management Act requires adopting a new 10-year comprehensive zoning plan, Wright says he has experience working with county, state and federal governments.

“My council district has a lot of land available that is prepared for commercial and industry development,” he said. “Those cities have worked together to develop an industrial and business corridor.

“If you have a good economy and a lot of family-wage jobs, that takes care of public-safety issues,’’ because crime will be reduced, he said.

Wright, who lives in Marysville, took classes at a number of colleges but did not receive a degree. He is married with five children.

Wright has raised about $39,000 in campaign contributions.

Democrats Bill Blake, Carsten Mullin

Democrat Bill Blake, 54, prides himself on his down-to-earth approach to working with people.

“The secret is having friends,” Blake said. “I always get along. ... I listen to what they have to say and bring it up. My leadership ability will come in handy.”

Blake is the stormwater utilities supervisor for the city of Arlington and has worked during his career with stream restoration and the preservation of farmland in the county. He’s a co-chairman of the Stillaguamish Watershed Council, a consortium of agencies devoted to maintaining a healthy watershed.

He believes the county’s biggest issue is a lack of affordable housing. He supports making the county attractive to Boeing-related businesses to help job growth, but if there isn’t housing, Blake said, business can’t grow.

He also wants to expand a program of bringing fresh food from Snohomish County farms to the schools.

Blake graduated from Skagit Valley College with an associate of technical arts degree in natural-resources management. Married and a father of two, he lives in unincorporated Snohomish County.

He has raised about $6,500 in campaign contributions.

Carsten Mullin, the other Democrat in the race, is in charge of the county records warehouse and is chairman of the Arlington Park, Arts and Recreation Commission.

The 38-year-old lives in Arlington with his wife and three children, and has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Washington. He ran unsuccessfully for Arlington mayor in 2011.

Mullin, who says he has not raised any campaign money, believes public safety is the biggest concern for the county.

“I want to be sure there are enough deputies in the neighborhoods,’’ he said.

He also advocates protecting the county’s parks, lakes and rivers.

“I think it’s really important to work with other community leaders to find solutions,’’ he said. He has not reported any campaign contributions.

Libertarian Sean Olson

Sean Olson, 29, says he wants to “make the world a better place’’ for his children by reducing the number of laws on the books. When asked which laws he would eliminate, he listed the federal health-care law known as Obamacare.

Olson, who lives in Marysville, is married and has three children. He works in construction for the city of Marysville.

“I’d like to promote personal liberty, the freedoms that were intended when our founders founded this country, including property rights, freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, as long as it’s done responsibly,’’ he said.

“We have a bunch of taxes and regulations and laws I didn’t vote for. I’d like to bring it back to the people and let them vote for it and make sure the laws are really necessary,’’ he said.

He reported about $200 in campaign contributions.

Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or nbartley@seattletimes.com

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