Bellevue City Council candidates and elections

Brandy Pickering / The Jibsheet

There has been a lot of news lately about Governor Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and politics on the federal level, but not as much about Aaron Lainge, Patti Mann, and Claudia Balducci.

They are the candidates in a city election going on right here for the Bellevue for the Bellevue City Council.

Bellevue is operated under the city council style of government; seven community members are elected at large and they serve staggered four-year terms. From among themselves, they select a mayor and a deputy mayor.

The council makes the decisions, but it is the job of the city manager, also appointed by the Council, to enforce them. The manager does this with the help of staff assigned by the Council to different departments which are given the responsibilities of maintaining city functionality. Currently the city manager is Steve Sarkozy, who has been the manager since 2000.

There are seven positions on the City Council; positions 1, 3, 5, and 7 are currently in the process of election. Running for Position 1 is Aaron Lainge and John Stokes. Neither of these men are incumbents.

According to his website, the main points in Lainge’s campaign are that he wants to preserve the quality of life in neighborhoods, encourage public safety as a top priority, and work to perfect the public transportation system in Bellevue.

His competitor Stokes’ website says that his main goals are advancing the light-rail system and improving schools. “Our schools are the backbone of our community,” his website says.

For Position 3, the candidates are John Chelminiak and Michelle Hilhorst. Chelminiak is an incumbent and rated “Outstanding” by, a local website that rates candidates’ performances. Hilhorst is trying to win the seat away from the incumbent with a rating of “Good.”

Chelminiak proclaims on his website, “My campaign will be positive and focused on the future of this great city and its place in this remarkable region of innovation.” The issues closest to him are improving education, protecting the environment, and environmental development.

Hilhorst says on her website, “I am running for the Bellevue City Council because I love this community and I want Bellevue to be a place where my children can live, work, and raise their families.” Her main issues are resolving transportation problems, improving the management of the budget, and ensuring that council members have no conflicts of interest and are collaborating.

For Position 5, Patricia Mann is running against incumbent Claudia Balducci. Both candidates are rated “Outstanding,” Balducci for her previous work on the City Council and Mann for her work on the school board.

Mann says, “Unfortunately, even a few members of our city council have chosen to prioritize regional interests and failed policy over the needs of Bellevue citizens. This is why I have decided to run for office.” The issues she feels most strongly about are better management of resources, more vibrant neighborhood communities, and especially, as a retired firefighter, public safety.

Describing her own campaign, Balducci wrote, “I am running for re-election to the Bellevue City Council to continue to bring a balance to city hall, focusing on the economic, land use/transportation and livability issues so critical to maintaining the success of our city.  I am committed to listening and engaging with the people of Bellevue on the issues impacting their families and continuing to advocate for their concerns at the Council.”

There is only one person running for Position 7; incumbent Jennifer Robertson, rated “Very Good”.

The election for these positions has already begun; by the end of November, a new Bellevue City Council will have been elected.