By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
MUKILTEO — Though Mukilteo City Councilman Randy Lord has been elected twice and served nearly eight years on the council, he now faces his first-ever opponent.
Lord ran unopposed in his first two council races, in 2005 and 2009.
“I’ve discovered that running unopposed is a great strategy,” he joked.
Fred Taylor, a musician who has done many other jobs from forklift operator to computer programmer, is challenging Lord for his council seat. Taylor is making his first try at public office.
He and his wife, owners of four dogs, volunteered to help manage Mukilteo’s recently created dog park. Others in the group encouraged him to run.
“My initial reaction was ‘Hell, no,’” Taylor said with a chuckle. After he thought about his concerns for the city, however, he decided to give it a try.
“Taxes are going up, fees are being added, money’s being spent in a lot of the wrong areas,” he said.
An example, he said, is a proposed bike path from Mukilteo to Airport Road running along the Boeing Freeway at the north end of Paine Field. The city recently approved spending $58,000 toward the $300,000 cost of design for the trail. The rest of the money came from a federal grant, Lord said. No construction has been approved.
Lord has promoted the idea. Taylor doesn’t think it’s needed.
“We call it ‘Randy’s Road,’” Taylor said.
Lord said the segment would help complete a network of bike paths in Snohomish County. There’s currently no dedicated bike path between Everett and Mukilteo north of the airport, he said.
“A whole lot of people like to ride their bikes and commute to Boeing, not just myself,” said Lord, who works as an engineer there.
Lord said the city can’t afford the $2 million construction cost, so he’ll ask Boeing, Everett Snohomish County and the state to cover it. If they say no, he’ll drop it, he said. The city’s contribution would be the money it’s already spending for design.
Taylor said there’s been too much emphasis on parks and open space in Mukilteo at the expense of other issues.
“There’s a clash between trying to turn Mukilteo into a big tourist destination on one hand and keep it a small livable city on the other hand,” he said.
Still, he said he would support the city acquiring land in Japanese Gulch for recreation, but wouldn’t support any kind of tax increase to do it.
Lord said the city would be able to supplement the current $4.3 million it has available for the property, mostly from grants, with current city funds if needed.
He said city residents have consistently said parks and open space are important.
“When we did a survey, that was the number one thing they wanted, was trails,” he said.
Taylor believes safety has been compromised by the long-term closure of the former crossing across the railroad tracks near the former Air Force tank farm. The crossing was closed when First Street was cut off after the construction of the Sounder commuter rail turnaround and parking area.
If there’s an earthquake, the Highway 525 bridge to the ferry dock could be dangerous, he said.
“I was livid,” he said of the continued closure of the other crossing. “I was very upset about that because it’s just not safe. I am not entirely sure what the plan is for a reconnection to Mukilteo Lane.”
As part of the plan, the Port of Everett will reopen the crossing when it builds a new access road to Edgewater Park at the far end of the tank farm next year, spokeswoman Lisa Lefeber said.
Both Lord and Taylor believe they have unique skills to contribute to the council.
Taylor has settled into a career as a recording and performing musician after many years in other jobs such as managing computer systems and a freight company.
“I want to bring to the council the benefits of my varied experiences in many different pursuits and disciplines,” he says on his website.
Lord said his collaborative style has helped him work well with other council members, and cites the fact they’ve chosen him as council president five of his eight years.
“I can listen to the left and right side of the table and listen to what we have in common instead of focusing on what we disagree on,” he said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the candidates
What’s the job? At stake is a 4-year position on the Mukilteo City Council. The seven-member council sets policy for the city. Members are paid a flat stipend of $500 per month with no benefits.
Occupation: engineer and project manager for Boeing
Political experience: Eight years on Mukilteo City Council; 12 years on city’s Parks and Arts Commission
Occupation: Musician; former freight company manager, computer programmer and office manager.
Political experience: Precinct committee officer, Mukilteo 2 precinct.