Kent elections looking to be quiet – only a few races

Except for mayor and one City Council position, few political races are expected this year in Kent because of a lack of candidates.

As of Wednesday, two of the three Kent City Council positions, two Kent Municipal Court judgeships and the District 5 King County Council spot had only one candidate apiece.

Filing week for candidates started Monday and ended Friday.

Jim Berrios, who last month announced plans to run for mayor, filed to challenge incumbent Suzette Cooke. Cooke has filed to seek her second, four-year term. Berrios is president of the Kent School Board and owner of the Golden Steer restaurant on the East Hill.

The mayor of Kent earns $102,192 per year.

Dana Ralph, 37, a Kent small business owner, filed Wednesday to challenge Dennis R. Higgins for City Council Position No. 4.

Higgins, 38, announced his campaign last month. A Kent resident since 1995, Higgins works as an information technology manager for the King County Geographic Information Systems.

Ralph serves as chairwoman on the city of Kent’s Land Use and Planning Board. She also is the chairwoman of the Kent Arts Commission.

“I’ve lived in Kent my whole life and I’ve been involved in the city the last five or six years,” Ralph said in a phone interview Thursday. “I feel I would be a good representative for the citizens of Kent. I feel I can make some good changes.”

Ralph employs three others at Advance Billings Systems, a medical billing office she has operated in Kent for 14 years. She has never run for an elected office before.

The other candidates for City Council include Jamie Danielson for Position No. 2 and incumbent Elizabeth Albertson for Position No. 6.

The Council appointed Danielson last summer to replace the late Councilman Bob O’Brien, who died of cancer. Higgins and Ralph were each finalists for the appointed position.

Councilman Tim Clark decided not to run again for Position No. 4.

Bailey Stober, a Green River Community College student, filed last month with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission to run for Clark’s position. As of Wednesday, Stober had not filed with the King County Elections division. Stober could not be reached for comment on whether he plans to file by Friday’s deadline.

The Council members are paid $13,752 per year for their part-time positions.

If three or more candidates file for a position, they will be on the primary election ballot Aug. 18. The two with the most votes will move on to the general election ballot on Nov. 3. If there are only one or two candidates, the position will appear on the general ballot.

Kent Municipal Court Judges Robert McSeveney and Glenn Phillips each filed to be re-elected to four-year terms. Each judge is paid $134,628 per year.

“I grew up on the West Hill of Kent and I like it here,” McSeveney said about his decision to run again in a phone interview Tuesday. “I love the job.”

McSeveney, 57, has served as a judge since Kent started a municipal court in 1994 to handle criminal misdemeanors such as petty theft, simple assault, prostitution and other similar cases. Kent used to contract with King County to handle criminal misdemeanors.

Phillips, 54, started with the Kent court in 1994 as a commissioner before the City Council appointed him as a full-time judge in 2002. He was elected to the position in 2005.

“The city of Kent is a great place to work,” Phillips said in a phone interview Monday. “Robert McSeveney and I have known each other for about 25 years and worked here 15 years. And it’s a great staff here.”

McSeveney received 64 percent of the vote in 2005 to defeat challenger Jeffrey Keck. No candidate challenged Phillips in 2005.

Patterson, of SeaTac, filed for her third term as the District 5 County Council representative. District 5 includes most of Kent.

“I’m very excited to continue my work on behalf of South King County to provide a regional voice for the people,” said Patterson, who plans to focus on transportation issues as well as human services. “I want to provide a strong voice for that part of the county because sometimes our voice isn’t heard.”

Patterson received 65 percent of the vote in 2005 to defeat challenger Orin Wells.

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