Originally published Monday, October 17, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Chelminiak, Balducci and Stokes the picks for Bellevue City Council

Two Bellevue City Councilmembers have earned re-election: John Chelminiak and Claudia Balducci. The Times also endorses John Stokes for an open seat.

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THE large number of builders and developers contributing to contests for Bellevue City Council reflect an ongoing battle to wrest control of the city's vision for future development.

Re-election of Councilmembers John Chelminiak and Claudia Balducci ensures consistent and stable leadership as Bellevue charts a smart growth course and continues with the light-rail line linking Bellevue with Seattle, Mercer Island and Redmond.

Connectivity between Seattle and major employment centers on the Eastside — such as the Microsoft campus in Redmond — is good for our region.

Development of the Bel-Red and Eastgate I-90 corridors would offer Bellevue more housing, employment and open space and take density pressure off downtown. But as past tensions and bickering about light rail proved, a unified vision relies on an experienced, knowledgeable council.

John Stokes is endorsed for the Position 1 seat vacated by Councilmember Grant Degginger. A retired attorney, Stokes' impressive civic résumé includes service on the Bellevue PTSA Council, the Bellevue Schools Foundation Board and the city's Parks and Community Services Board. Opponent Aaron Laing is a lawyer with a much smaller civic résumé.

Chelminiak's bid for a third term for Position 3 offers voters stability and an impressive track record balancing downtown development with the needs of Bellevue's neighborhoods. By contrast, opponent Michelle Hilhorst, who works for AT&T, has little experience on citywide issues.

Balducci's combined service on regional panels earns her re-election for Position 5. A council member since 2004, Balducci boasts a strong civic and professional résumé. She is director of the King County Jail, chair of the Puget Sound Regional Council's Transportation Policy Board, a Sound Transit board member and the council's smart voice on regional transportation issues. Balducci is better prepared and connected than her opponent, Patti Mann, a Seattle paramedic and firefighter.

Councilmember Jennifer Robertson is unopposed in her bid for Position 7.


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