Randolph unseats Harris to gain City Council Position 7

By Hannah Saunders

Newcomer James Randolph defeated incumbent Gary Harris garnering 52.28 % of the vote in the race for Position No. 7 in the November General Election. He will take his seat on the Woodinville City Council in January of 2022.

Randolph was excited about the win.

“This was my first time running for public office,” Randolph said.

Randolph, who is new to the political arena, is also a fairly recent transplant to the city of Woodinville, having moved here eight years ago. Originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Randolph’s interest in technology led him to the Bay area but due to the rising cost of living, he and his family relocated to Washington. The beauty and nature of Woodinville remind him of his home state.

He said his primary motivation for running for office was the torture and murder of George Floyd and what took place afterward.

“I had a realization that policing is hyperlocal, and in order to have people with my background and perspective in office, people with my background and perspective need to run for office,” Randolph said.

Randolph’s campaign plan included not making empty promises.

“My major strategy was to keep it simple and to keep it naturally me,” Randolph said. “One of the difficult things about the campaign is being true to yourself while campaigning and staying true to yourself while in office.”

Randolph mentioned that the election win feels great and that he thought canvassing and campaigning were tough work. He acknowledges, however, that the toughest part is yet to come.

“The plan I’ve always had in hand is to focus as much as possible with the Growth Management Act,” Randolph said. “We know that Woodinville will have to grow beyond the surrounding areas.”

Randolph said he wants to create a strong plan that aligns with what residents and businesses desire and will try to connect those two points for future growth. He is mindful of nature and green spaces within the city and thinks it will be easy to build high-density residential facilities, while also maintaining the green environment by building nearby accessible trails.

More simply put, he wishes to build up. Furthermore, he wants to work toward making downtown spaces walkable and create partnerships with developers to ensure that buildings and spaces are functional.

Randolph will assume office in the new year along with three other newly elected councilmembers (Michelle Evans, Rachel Best-Campbell and Sarah Arndt).

“I think a lot of great people got elected during this election that I’ll be able to work with and I’m looking forward to working with them,” Randolph said.

According to Randolph, Woodinville is a young city with about 25% of the population made up of people of color; approximately 1% of which are Black residents.

“I believe I am the first person of color to serve on the Woodinville City Council,” Randolph said. “So, me holding representation for a city with that makeup says a lot. I imagine there were a lot of people who were moved as much as I was for that summer’s protest.”

A goal of Randolph’s is to correct the past and to bring his experiences as a Black male to the city of Woodinville. He mentioned that it isn’t about his race, but rather the perspective he can offer through his lived experiences.

“Being a part of Woodinville and being able to make change that, in all honesty, is one thing I’m excited about,” Randolph said. “There are lots of things that I feel empowered to do and I’m no longer just empowered, I am responsible for it. I look forward to taking on that responsibility and adding that point of view.”

Randolph promises to represent all voices of the Woodinville community and has a message for his voters:

“A big and heartfelt thank you. And a reminder that the election was an important piece of the puzzle,” Randolph said. “But now a lot of the hard work will begin in the move forward with constituents of Woodinville in mind. We will need to hear from those constituents. While I was campaigning, I had a lot of people remind me that if they felt like I wasn’t representing their point of view, they would let me know and I would hold them to that.”

Although Randolph defeated current Woodinville Mayor Gary Harris in the race for Council Position 7, he is not guaranteed to become mayor. In the new year, the council will select a member to serve as the city’s top administrator.

Northshore News reached out to Harris, who said he would comment after he was no longer the mayor.

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