Voters meet primary candidates

From left: Democratic mayoral candidates from Bellevue Paul Cusick and Tom Fodi, League of Women Voters moderator Eileen Olmsted, and mayoral candidate Emile Marburger.

With the May primary election less than a month away, the League of Women Voters hosted and moderated a forum Wednesday for candidates who will appear on the ballot for offices in Avalon, Bellevue and for the Northgate School Board.

A lack of primary contests in Avalon resulted in no candidates for office in that borough attending the forum.

Bellevue, however, has two contested primary races on the Democratic ballot, where there are two open seats in the borough’s first ward and three candidates seeking the party’s nomination. Former council member Jane Braunlich and newcomers Val Pennington and Jodi Hause are on the ballot for the two nominations. Republican incumbent Kathy Coder is the only Republican seeking nomination in the primary.

Three people are seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor of Bellevue, although true party affiliation became an issue addressed at the forum. Incumbent mayor Paul Cusick originally held office as a Democrat, switched his voter registration to Republican, and switched back to the Democratic ticket when he ran for election four years ago. Council member Tom Fodi has been registered to vote as a member of three different parties in as many years. Fodi began his political activism as a proclaimed Libertarian, became a Republican for a stab at a state house of representatives seat and his current council seat, and became a Democrat only for this election. Newcomer Emily Marburger is a lifelong Democrat who has been politically active in progressive efforts supported by the party.

Mayoral candidates were asked to point to three actions or personal beliefs that aligned with the Democratic Party platform. Cusick said that he had recently performed a same-sex marriage ceremony, and that he fights council every year to increase the wages of female employees.Fodi said that agreed with the Democratic principle of “bringing people together.” Marburger pointed out her activism in support of Planned Parenthood and other efforts that are key to the Democratic principle of “stand(ing) for the working man” and making sure that all people have an equal opportunity to “learn and grow.”

Other candidates for council took part in the forum, although they are uncontested in the primary. In November, Democrat Anthony DiTullio will face Republicans Michael Kendall and Anya Pikul in the election to fill two vacant second ward seats. Pikul did not attend the forum

In the third ward, there is one open seat. Voters in November will choose between Democrat Glenn Pritchard and Republican Aaron Price.

Noticeably absent from the ballot this year are four Bellevue Council incumbents who have chosen not to seek re-election, most after serving only one term. Henry Lenard from the first ward, Matt Senviskey and Vencent Menosky from the second ward and Lynn Tennant Heffley from the third ward all will end their council careers in December.

There are five candidates running for four open seats on the Northgate School Board. All are cross-filed on both the Democratic and Republican ballots. One-term incumbents Lisa Saylor and Bryan Johnston are not running for re-election. Amy Joy Robinson and Jennifer McWilliams are, however, joined by newcomers John Gratner, Ryan McElravy and Christine King.

The primary election will be held Tuesday, May 16. Watch for additional election stories in upcoming issues of The Citizen.