City Councilmember Ryan Walters has announced his candidacy for mayor of the Anacortes. Incumbent Mayor Laurie Gere recently declared she would not seek a third term.
“Mayor Gere built us a strong foundation that can be a launchpad for channeling new energy and taking advantage of new opportunities,” Walters said. “She put Anacortes on track toward real land use planning, long-term fiscal responsibility, transparency, and civility.”
First elected to the Anacortes City Council in 2011, Walters is now the most senior member. Walters has championed the City’s fiber internet service, a complete update of the City’s land use plan to lower conflict between commercial uses and neighborhoods, and long-term planning for paying for capital facilities.
A municipal attorney, Walters has written several pieces of city legislation to protect our forestlands, improve public participation, and increase transparency. In 2019, he led the charge to have the City Council place a measure on the ballot to support housing projects sponsored by the Anacortes Family Center and the Anacortes Housing Authority. Last year, Walters was awarded the Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership by the Association of Washington Cities.
Former City Councilmember Eric Johnson offered his early endorsement. “Ryan is the City Council’s recognized expert on planning, finance, and governance,” Johnson said. “He is the council’s mentor in ensuring that our city government works more efficiently, effectively, and transparently. Again and again, I’ve seen him quickly master complex problems for which he offers straightforward and effective solutions. Ryan will be a terrific mayor who will continue to make Anacortes a great place to live.”
In a news release, Walters said his top priorities are:
- Supporting our economic and community recovery from the pandemic by reinvigorating Commercial Ave, expanding outdoor street dining, and building connections to the waterfront.
- Refining the City’s new zoning code to ensure it protects neighborhoods, the environment, and our small-town character, while providing for a variety of housing types and styles throughout the community, preserving our urban tree canopy, and ensuring that new development pays for itself.
- Rebuilding our deteriorated and unfinished streets and sidewalks, keeping traffic and speeds under control within neighborhoods, and building “complete streets” for all users with effective stormwater management features.
- Continuous improvement to enhance efficiency, transparency, and customer service, and to provide real opportunities for public engagement with all City departments.
- Reducing the cost of City utilities to keep the cost of living low for Anacortes residents.
Walters said he wants to make quick progress on long-standing projects like Commercial Avenue, the community youth center, and the Guemes Channel Trail. On each of those initiatives, “We need careful planning that reflects the community’s needs and identifies available funding,” Walters said. “Where full funding is not immediately available, we should make progress through smaller, incremental steps consistent with the long-term vision.”
Walters served as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Skagit County from 2007 until 2016, when he was appointed assistant director of the Skagit County Planning Department. He spearheaded improvements in the County permit process until becoming Director of Planning and Community Development for the Samish Indian Nation in 2018. At Samish, Walters has managed multi-million-dollar capital projects and real estate transactions, while juggling work on long-term strategic planning and an overhaul of the tribal code. The son of Randy and Cyndi Walters, Ryan's family has lived in Anacortes for five generations.