Familiar contenders seek Mill Creek seat

MILL CREEK — When a vacancy occurred on the Mill Creek City Council last year, Lynn Sordel received the appointment and Sean Kelly did not.

Now the two men are competing again for the council seat and the winner of the next month’s election will earn a four-year term in Position 1.

Kelly won the August primary, finishing 56 votes ahead of Sordel.

“I took a really deep look at the situation and told myself it was time for me to do what I do best, which is getting out and meeting people,” Sordel said.

That means Sordel, 62, a seven-year resident of Mill Creek, is out talking about how his career in the public sector prepares him better to deal with the complexities of budgeting and long-term planning for the city. Today he is director of parks and recreation for the city of Lynnwood.

His campaign platform is simple: “to preserve the quality of life we enjoy here.”

Kelly, 46, also a seven-year resident of Mill Creek, is an engineer with the Boeing Co. and formerly worked for American Airlines. Kelly said his decision to run had nothing to do with Sordel’s service since he got appointed in November 2012.

“I think the city is doing a pretty good job. I like our community. I like living in it,” he said. (Running for office) is a good way to contribute, a good way to give back.”

Sordel’s goals, if elected, are to keep expenses under control and responsibly manage revenues that he hopes will climb as Mill Creek emerges from the recession.

Filling storefronts in Town Center and moving forward with the East Gateway Urban Village are two key steps to ensuring economic development in the city well into the future, he said.

Like Sordel, Kelly wants to attract businesses to those two commercial areas and sustain Mill Creek’s quality of life.

Government “should be minimal” and the city can maintain good streets and provide quality services including public safety “without having to go raise a whole lot of taxes and new taxes,” he said. “You just don’t have to do that.”

Four of the seven council seats are up for election this year. And in each contest, the topics generating the most heat are whether the City Council is moving to construct a multimillion-dollar civic center and impose a utility tax.

Council members conversed about the future need for a new city complex during a retreat in April. As far as the tax, it’s mentioned in the city’s year-old strategic plan as part of a list of revenue-raising options available to cities. Mill Creek has no utility tax today.

Sordel and the other incumbents say neither idea is getting pursued. Yet each of their challengers contends they are on the radar. Worries about a civic center have become a serious enough matter that city manager Ken Armstrong wrote a piece on the city’s website in September to counter the rumors of imminent action.

“There’s no plan to build a new city hall or civic center. There’s no plan for a utility tax,” Sordel said. “Right now I don’t think there’s any sentiment to move in that direction.”

If there’s a plan for a new city hall, Kelly is opposed.

“Personally, I don’t think it is something that should be done,” he said.

The election is Nov. 5.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Meet the candidates

The job: At stake is a four-year term on the Mill Creek City Council where members earn $500 a month or $6,000 a year.

Lynn Sordel

Age: 62

Experience: Appointed to City Council in November 2012; member Mill Creek Parks and Recreation Advisory Board 2008-12; director of parks and recreation for the city of Lynnwood; master’s in parks and recreation administration, Western Illinois University

Website: none

Sean Kelly

Age: 46

Experience: Engineer, the Boeing Co.; bachelor’s of science in aeronautics, San Jose State; Gold Creek Community Church volunteer

Website: none

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