Two candidates vie for council seat 6
August 30, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
The city’s election lineup is set, and while there are three City Council seats up for election, only one race includes more than one candidate.
John Drescher and Mark Greene will compete to fill the seat that will be vacated by retiring City Councilman Bill Erxleben. Incumbents John Dulcich and Rich Crispo will both run unopposed to retain their positions.
Drescher and Greene will have booths at Newcastle Days to meet with voters ahead of the Nov. 5 general election.
John Drescher and his wife Sally have called the Wynfield Ridge neighborhood home since 2005. It’s where they moved as newlyweds, before adding three children to their family.
Since moving to Newcastle, Drescher has played an active role in the community, serving as a homeowner’s association president, coaching local youth sports teams and for the past three years, serving on the Planning Commission.
In his role on the all-volunteer Planning Commission, where he has served as the chairman since August 2012, he received an education about how the city functions, he said.
“I’ve enjoyed serving in that role and when the open council seat became available, I looked into it, and it seemed like a logical next step to take in serving my community,” he said.
Drescher praised the current City Council’s work to strengthen city finances over the years, and said he hoped to continue that tradition through efficient budgeting and wise stewardship of tax dollars.
Ensuring the city is financially secure so it’s able to properly provide for public safety, maintain and improve roads and infrastructure, and continue to foster the development of parks, trails, and pedestrian and bicycle access is critical, Drescher said.
“I think those are important aspects of what makes Newcastle a great place to live, but all of that costs money and I’m not naive,” he said. “We’re doing fine, but we don’t have money to burn, so in order to have the money for those priorities you need to be smart about how you budget.”
Drescher said he believes his voice would fit well with the City Council, with his ability to express his own principles while cultivating an atmosphere that allows everyone to be heard.
“I certainly have strong points of view, but I also believe firmly in the power of compromise,” he said. “There’s always room, especially in the City Council atmosphere, for a healthy compromise that serves everyone well.”
Drescher, who also said he supports a push to get Newcastle it’s own ZIP code, is the executive director of TechNet Northwest, a bi-partisan technology trade group that supports the innovation economy.
He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University.
“I come with a perspective that City Council folks really are the servants of the people,” he said. “I feel that if I’m elected it will be an honor, and it will be an opportunity to serve and give back.”
Meet the candidates
Speak with Newcastle City Council candidates at an Oct. 8 meet and greet at The Golf Club at Newcastle.
Mark Greene has lived in downtown Newcastle since 2005, and he is no stranger to running for public office.
He most recently ran for King County elections director in 2011 losing to Sherril Huff, after unsuccessfully running for King County Council in 2009, failing to advance past the primary.
Greene ran for Newcastle City Council in 2007, but lost in the primary election to incumbent Sonny Putter and challenger Russ Segner.
He is throwing his hat into the ring once again, citing environmental issues and his intent to keep Newcastle its own city as his top priorities.
If elected, Greene said he plans to implement a special environmental enhancement project that will map the city’s infrastructure problems, try to make contingency plans for possible natural disasters and come up with basic green ideals to improve the environment.
“Although I realize that one little town like Newcastle is not going to have much of an impact, I think everybody should do their part, no matter how small it may seem,” he said, referring to issues such as global warming.
The environmental project would fall under the purview of the Community Activities Commission, he said.
Greene said he is also intent on making sure Newcastle remains its own city, ensuring it doesn’t join Bellevue as City Councilman Bill Erxleben explored almost a year ago.
“I am somebody who has unequivocally stated that I will never vote for Newcastle to be merged with another city,” he said.
The long-term financial health of the city will be good, Greene said, as long as the City Council makes practical decisions regarding the spending of money.
“Any city, no matter how big or small, can’t have everything they want,” he said. “So, they have to just prioritize what’s the most important thing and stay within those boundaries.”
Greene said he would “not spend so much on roads” when it came time to prioritizing allocations for the city’s budget.
“I think we can spend less money on roads, if it comes to that,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind cutting that in half if we have to.”
Greene is an independent legal assistant, helping clients with rudimentary legal help, including taxes and wills, he said. He is also chairman of the Party of Commons, an organization that he describes as economically progressive and socially traditional.
He holds an associate in applied science degree from a state of Minnesota college, he said.