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July 24, 2005

Interview with Candidate Marko Liias

One of the great lessons of the last year is that Democratic progressives must organize to rebuild our Party in order to get our country back.  As folks are saying, we lost our ability to significantly influence the Supreme Court selection on November 4th.  We were committed; we worked hard; at the national level we lost badly.  History will tell us that there were many reasons.  The one we have most control over is our lack of cohesion and organization as a Party.   

As it becomes staggeringly clear what a mess the Republicans are making, we are preparing to do better next time.  One of the more critical ways is investing in local offices so that we have more and more progressive Democrats as mayors and on city councils and school boards – to build a bench for higher office, to do the difficult work of making communities work with fewer resources and to remind people what good government looks like. 

The people I have the most respect for are all saying the same thing.  Howard Dean has said the most important thing for us to do is run for office.  Chris Bowers, master blogger at mmdd.com has just announced he is running for committeeperson (the equivalent of a precinct captain), which in Philadelphia is an elected position.  Progressive Majority, the most effective organization we have on the left, is focused on encouraging progressives to run at every level in this state and the other states they are operating in.  They currently have identified 50 people they are supporting for local and state offices around Washington State this year and next.

So, I thought it might be time to interview one of these folks running for office for the first time.

Brian Moran over at Washblog has endorsed Marko Liias for city council in the city of Mukilteo. Brian says that Mukilteo needs the kind of leadership that Marko can provide, particularly around transportation issues.  Dean Nielsen of Progressive Majority Washington, which is also supporting Marko, says he is the kind of person they like to see run for office, someone with a fantastic background and the desire and ability to contribute to his community.  Marko is an environmentally friendly developer with an interest in preparing Mukilteo to meet the needs of the community into the future.

The interview is after the fold.

Q: What prompted you to run for city council?

ML: I have been a lifetime resident of Mukilteo.  I graduated from Kamiak High School and was actually a student member of the city council at that time.  Then I went on to get a degree from Georgetown University in D.C. in International Politics.  I came back here and started a small business with my parents, building houses and duplexes in South Snohomish County. 

I’ve been active in Democratic politics at the ground level and have developed some ideas for making some positive changes in Mukilteo so I decided to run for city council.

Q: What in your background makes you think you’d make a good member of the city council?

ML:  Running and operating a small company gives me experience managing projects and people.  I volunteer in the community.  I’m currently Vice Chair of the Snohomish Board of Equalization which gives me a lot of experience in issues related to Property Taxes.  I think I bring a set of strengths that complement what existing members have.

Q: What makes you a Democrat?

ML: My parents were not particularly active politically.  Friends of the family realized I might be interested in politics and got me involved in Republican activities when I was younger.  However, as I came into High School age, I decided it was our duty as a society to provide people with what they need to be successful, including health care, a quality environment, a good education and occasionally a safety net for folks who need it.  It seems to me that Republicans have a vision that the best way for people to succeed is for government not to be involved.  I think that we need to work together to solve challenges.

Q: What do you see as the biggest issues facing Mukilteo at this point?

ML: The biggest challenges are in transportation.  With the high ferry traffic to and from Whidby Island we are becoming a transportation hub and we need to be better prepared for that volume.   We have the Boeing plant in our area which employs thousands.  I’d like to see us think about both short-term and long-term solutions, including rapid transit.

We also have an interesting regional issue – the possibility of a Paine Field expansion.  This is related to the discussion going on in Seattle about the possible expansion of Boeing Field.  In the late 1970’s, Snohomish County thought about expanding Paine Field as a secondary major airport in Western Washington.  There was a lot of discussion at the time and commitments were made not to expand Paine Field for public air traffic.  Those commitments were reaffirmed in 1992.  Nevertheless, the question gets raised periodically.  I don’t think an expansion makes sense for any number of reasons – the increase in traffic and noise, the need Boeing has for the field, and the need to repay the bonds for the Sea-Tac expansion. 

Other issues are the long-term economic development of the area.  We need local jobs so that residents don’t have to go to Seattle.  We need to protect local businesses.  I think the city could provide more assistance to local companies as we redevelop the waterfront for example. 

I also think that we have some magnificent and interested open spaces here.  There are deep ravines that are not developable.  We could expand the local park system and maybe involve school children to allow them to learn about ecosystems and generally make open spaces more user-friendly. 

Q: Why should people outside of Mukilteo care about electing you? 

ML: I think as progressive Democrats we have a stake in demonstrating that government can do positive things for people.  Local government is a lab for democracy.  I think we have the opportunity in Mukilteo to model positive progressive politics.  At the city level we could use bio-diesel fuel; we can offer apprenticeships; we can protect the civil rights of city employees; we can institute more public transportation, even simple things like Park & Ride lots.

Small communities are often over-looked as a place where public policy can make people’s lives better. 

And, of course, it might matter to people to counteract the fact that Tim Eyman also hails from Mukilteo.  It would be nice to be known for more than that. 

For more information or to contribute to Marko’s campaign, check out his website. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 24, 2005 at 06:39 PM in Interviews | Permalink


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Lalalalalalala -- so Chris Bowers is running for precinct captain, you'd think the heavens parted.

Sheesh, I thought any self respecting progressive had done that MONTHS ago during the primaries with Dean.

I'm just jealous I never got the blogosphere play when I ran ;-)

Posted by: chrischross | Jul 25, 2005 11:48:51 PM

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Interview with Candidate Marko Liias:

» Marko Liias for Mukilteo City Council! from Progressive Majority Washington

Lynn over at Evergreen Politics has an interview about our Farm Team candidate Marko Liias, who is running for Mukilteo City Council. You may have met Marko at Camp Wellstone [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 25, 2005 4:59:16 PM

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