A look at candidates running for city of Woodinville Council Position 7

By Meghan McLaughlin

Current mayor Gary Harris relies on his 30 years of volunteer experience. Beyond his former career as a pharmacist, Harris spends his time doing a variety of things in the community in addition to owning the Hideaway Lodge Bed and Breakfast.

Gary Harris

“I have a personal interest in making sure that Woodinville is the best city that it can be because I do have a business,” Harris said, “but also I want a city that is fun to be in, where there are things to do, where there is a minimum of crime. And I think that what I’m doing on the city council is helping do those things.”

Harris considers himself an evidence-based person who roots his decisions in fact and truth rather than rumor or gossip. He likes to look at the big picture and weigh the details of the city council’s projects. In many of his leadership endeavors, Harris has received positive feedback from people his decisions impacted. 

“I like to think of myself as someone who can do that kind of thing,” Harris said, “that it’s not a Democrat or Republican thing. It’s ‘let’s talk about this and see what works.’ And in the case of city council, ‘what works for Woodinville?'”

Harris’ list of leadership roles is long. He was the PTA president at his daughter’s school. He served as the Washington State Pharmacy Commission chair, was the University of Washington School of Pharmacy Alumni Association president and was a part of the EvergreenHealth Community Advisory Board. He’s also a Golden Acorn recipient.

“When I retired from my pharmacy job,” Harris said, “I thought ‘well, what can I do here closer to home?'”

While closer to home, Harris zeroed in on some improvements to Woodinville he has worked to make and hopes to continue to make. 

Alleviating traffic is one. Harris delved into specifics of replacing the current trestle with an eight-lane road in the future and improving trail access and connections between trails. 

Harris also wants to increase access to affordable housing and has ideas about where to put those developments. He emphasized making sure Woodinville grows responsibly. 

A 45-year resident of Woodinville, three-year councilmember and one-year mayor, Harris believes in Woodinville becoming the best version of itself. He considers his job as council member and mayor to be fun and wants to continue it. 

James Randolph

James Randolph wants to have conversations and not just within Woodinville City Council but with everyone. Randolph hasn’t lived in Woodinville for decades like his opponent, but he believes in the city’s potential and aims to achieve growth gradually and responsibly.

“I am coming to the council to represent a new and diverse point of view,” Randolph said. “I know that as a person of color, I would offer a voice and perspective that currently is not represented on our council. I also understand what it’s like to be from an underserved and sometimes underrepresented community. So I plan to be a voice for those unheard and underrepresented folks who want to interact with the council. I plan to engage and have a very open and listening ear.”

Randolph is a parent to school-aged children, which he says is another gap in the current council. He believes he’ll be a voice for parents who are still struggling with sending their children to school during the pandemic when there is no option to vaccinate elementary school-aged children. On top of that, Randolph desires to improve parks and recreation spaces for families in the area. 

Randolph works in engineering management and has volunteered with Washington Opportunity Scholarship, iUrban Teen and Year Up. He has done work in diversity, equity and inclusion and as a mentor in programs that show children what career paths they can take. He’s also worked with the Northeast Recycling Transfer Station Project Site Advisory Group. 

Randolph said four issues come to mind that the city needs to deal with: growth, traffic and the transfer station, and social equity, which includes increasing affordable housing. 

Why Randolph is running is simple: to see change through in his community. Since the summer of 2020 and George Floyd’s death, Randolph has focused on action. He attended the protest in Woodinville and paid attention to the pronouncement of support from major companies. He also noticed there were not many people in the crowd who looked like him, but he felt supported. Afterward, he saw the changes that started that summer was losing momentum.

“If I really wanted to see changes that I thought we could have, I was going to need to be involved,” Randolph said. “I was going to need to do the work to see the level of equality that I want to have in the country.”

Randolph says he’s not alone on that issue. 

“Everybody seems to have realized that overcoming existing social and racial justice issues requires action,” Randolph said. “I’m committed to being part of those actions. I’m hoping that moving into the Woodinville Council will help my children and other kids or people of color create a pathway to be involved and know they’re part of their city.”


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