City Council Scoring Project 2019

Cities play an important role in energy policies that affect our economy, our health and safety, and the environment.

To understand how city council candidates would prioritize these policies, CENSE formed a five-member committee to interview and score candidates in competitive city council races in Bellevue, Newcastle, and Renton. We asked four questions about safety, energy trends, existing projects, and public utilities. We didn’t specifically ask about PSE’s Energize Eastside project because it is currently being appealed to the Bellevue City Council (appeal hearing on October 16).

The candidates were graded on a curve compared to all of the candidates we interviewed, not just their opponents. Below you can see each candidate’s cumulative grade, but you can also read the full answer to each question and how it rated. We hope our ratings will be helpful in how you cast your vote.

If you would like additional information about how candidates prioritize protection of parks, relief of congested traffic, and the challenges of homelessness and affordable housing, we encourage you to check out survey results from another volunteer citizen group, One Bellevue. You might also like to hear Bellevue’s candidates speak at one of the neighborhood forums taking place in the next few weeks.

City Council Races

City of Bellevue

Position 1

  • John Stokes – no grade
    Incumbent council member Stokes would not participate in our score card project, citing concerns about the upcoming appeal of Energize Eastside before the Bellevue City Council.  Stokes has received endorsements from several environmental groups, but we don’t know how supportive he will be of CENSE goals.  We are disappointed that we could not engage with him to give voters a better idea of his policies and priorities for the future.
  • Holly Zhang
    Challenger Zhang was an enthusiastic participant in our candidate interview.  Her low scores reflect the fact that she still has much to learn about energy and environmental policies. (see details)

Position 3

  • Jeremy Barksdale – B
    Barksdale prioritizes communication and collaboration with the community.  He would convene public discussions and encourage collective decisions rather than relying solely on his own judgment of complex issues.  Barksdale didn’t mention specific policies or priorities during his candidate interview, but says conversations with the community and experts would inform his decisions. (see details)
  • Stephanie Walter – B+
    Walter has gained experience during her service on the Planning Commission and as a council member on the East Bellevue Community Council.  She is detail-oriented and focused on good data and cost-effectiveness.  She prioritizes representation and protection of neighborhoods. (see details)

Position 5

  • JD Yu – B
    Yu has a positive outlook, an engineering focus, and brings a high level of energy to his race. He seems to be aligned with CENSE goals, but doesn’t have much experience in energy or environmental policy. We felt he has the potential to be an inspiring leader. (see details)
  • Janice Zahn – A-
    Zahn offers a lot of experience from her service on the Bellevue City Council and the Transportation Commission, and as an engineer for the Port of Seattle. Her answers to our questions often provided specific details about policies that she has worked on. Her respect for good data and policy earned her high marks on our score card. (see details)

Position 7

  • James Bible – B+
    In answer to our energy and environment questions, Bible drew interesting parallels from his work on civil rights and concerns about incarceration policy. While he didn’t have specific knowledge about energy policy, he seemed to have an intuitive grasp of the issues. As a newcomer to city government, he was less specific than the incumbent candidates, but we feel he could bring a fresh perspective to some of the energy and environmental challenges we face. (see details)
  • Jennifer Robertson – A-
    In 2015, Robertson was the only council member who voted against PSE’s Lake Hills Transmission Line that will destroy hundreds of trees on 148th Avenue in East Bellevue. However, she recently recused herself from voting on appeals to PSE’s Energize Eastside project, citing conflicts of interest with her family’s business. Robertson is an experienced land use attorney who could have informed the discussion about those appeals. (see details)

City of Newcastle

Position 3

  • Allen Dauterman – A
    As a former member of the Newcastle Planning Commission and current mayor, Dauterman was fully engaged on energy and environmental issues affecting Newcastle. We found him well informed, energetic, and more willing to make commitments than most candidates. He received the highest grades of any candidate participating in our interviews. (see details)
  • Tom Griffin – no grade
    After numerous emails and phone calls, we were unable to convince Griffin to meet with our committee.

City of Renton


  • Marcie Maxwell – A-
    Maxwell has served in various levels of government and knows more about energy and environmental policy than many candidates. Her connections would help Renton participate in regional policies that could benefit Renton residents and people throughout the region. (see details)
  • Armondo Pavone – no grade
    After several phone calls with CENSE, Pavone did not respond to our follow up calls and emails to schedule a time for an interview. We are disappointed that Pavone chose not to participate, and we are concerned that his allegiances might not align with CENSE. Campaign contribution records show donations from CURE, a group that advocates for swift approval of PSE’s Energize Eastside project.

Position 3

  • James Alberson – B-
    We found Alberson to be an engaging and sincere candidate. His relatively low scores on our questions were due to lower knowledge and experience with energy and environmental policies than other candidates. We feel that Alberson has the potential to learn and support positive policies. (see details)
  • Valerie O’Halloran – no grade
    O’Halloran asked to be excused from our interview, saying she did not feel well-prepared to answer our questions. She indicated she would like to learn more and requested a briefing if she is elected.