North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Legislators hold town hall meeting


February 21, 2018 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

State Sen. Keith Wagoner, left, talks with local Julando Samson after a town hall in Arlington on Feb. 17.

Local state legislators Sen. Keith Wagoner (R-39) and Rep. Carolyn Eslick (R-39) held an Arlington town hall on Feb. 17 to talk about local issues and concerns.

Wagoner and Eslick represent the 39th Legislative District, which includes Arlington, Sedro-Woolley, Monroe and much of the rural eastern parts of Snohomish County and Skagit County.

Sen. Wagoner just recently started in the senate this January, replacing former Sen. Kirk Pearson. Previously Wagoner had served as the mayor of Sedro-Woolley.

Rep. Eslick is also fairly new in her role and began working in the state House of Representatives late last year.

The two met with constituents from the area on Feb. 17 at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club.

School safety was one of the big concerns of the town hall as the Feb. 14 mass shooting in a Florida school that left 17 dead was on the minds of many.

"It's unfortunate what's happening in our schools everywhere. We have to find a way to keep our kids safe," said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert, who attended the town hall.

"We have to solve the problem. It's not acceptable for our kids to feel fear at school," she said.

Some local residents suggested mandated locks on every door for schools or mandated lockdown training.

Wagoner said his schools have gone through training and drills.

"It's a lot more intensive than a couple of hours. It took weeks and weeks, but I think it was worth every penny," he said.

However, he did not want to give a mandate to schools, especially without being able to provide them funds to actually accomplish the mandate.

"I think it's something that communities can do if they choose to do it, but I don't feel comfortable from Olympia necessarily mandating that they do it," he said. "I really think local solutions are the best solutions."

The issue of mental health support came up as one of the big ways to prevent school shootings.

The issue of mental health also stretches into other issues like homelessness and addiction.

"There are no facilities and there are people with no insurance with nowhere to go and it overwhelms our public safety departments quite frankly, it overwhelms our schools and everywhere else," said Tolbert.

Eslick said that the state legislature is putting some money toward programs that could help those who need mental health support.

The Snohomish County Diversion Center near the county's jail could be finished soon.

"When it is complete in a month or two, people coming out of the jail will be able to walk 200 feet and be able to find their resources and they will have beds in the building right behind that," said Eslick.

Wagoner noted that the funds for that project are "not all nailed down yet."

He said mental health is not always about big institutions either.

"Not that they don't have a place in the solution, but we need to fix the problem early," he said. "We want to bring smaller, local solutions."

Tolbert said there is still work to do in making sure Arlington has good places to send those with mental health needs.

"Please pay attention to where we can shift dollars that are going into health and human services to mental health issues," she said.

As for potential gun control, Wagoner said he is a proponent of the Second Amendment.

Christopher Andersson

State Rep. Carolyn Eslick, right, talks with local John Moselage after a town hall in Arlington on Feb. 17.

"I will tell you that I don't think restrictions on firearms are going to solve the problem," he said. "My personal philosophy is that we already have laws people are not abiding. You're not allowed to kill people, that's a law ... so laying more laws in front of people is not going to help."

Wagoner instead said the best strategy is "to find the bad people and fix them if they can be fixed."

Tolbert said that those who hope to improve schools should get in contact with their school boards and let them know what they want.

"Safety was a big part of the bond that was on the ballot just last week. I know that personally I'm ready to give my money to help solve the problem," she said.

For more information or to contact Wagoner or Eslick, go to their websites at or


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