Backstrom Will Run For Council -- Annexation Brings Challenges, He Says


Walter Backstrom, who failed last year in a bid for the state Legislature, has announced his candidacy for the Bothell City Council.

Makeup of the seven-member council will change after this election because none of the four members whose seats are up for election are expected to run again.

Backstrom's work on the city's Planning Commission and in social services gives him a unique background and perspective for the City Council, he said. He has lived in Bothell for two and a half years and has been on the commission for more than a year.

The 41-year-old's campaign for state representative last year was embroiled in controversy when Backstrom, an African American who ran as a Republican, was the target of a racist letter. Officials of both parties decried the incident.

Backstrom said the central issues are providing more police, parks and housing for senior citizens and more infrastructure such as sidewalks, particularly in the recently annexed Canyon Park area. Backstrom said the new council will have to deal with challenges of the annexation that doubled the size and basic infrastructure of the city.

In the development of growth-management planning, Backstrom said Bothell should be a major player because the city straddles two counties, Snohomish and King.

He said the new council will have to deal with transportation problems, making sure the high-tech corridor stays strong, deal with police and park facilities in the wake of a bond rejection last year and look at more human services for citizens.

He proposed hiring more police officers, creating a better climate for economic development, strengthening downtown business, and ensuring a stronger tax base. He said affordable and senior housing are needed.

Backstrom works for a private, nonprofit program that finds homes for foster children. He previously worked for the Seattle School District as an alcohol/drug counselor.

Born in Los Angeles, Backstrom has a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of California and a master's degree in juvenile corrections from the University of Oregon.