By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — The election contest between City Councilman Bart Masterson and Brian Holtzclaw may be decided by which of their approaches toward governing voters prefer.
Masterson, 76, is seeking re-election to a second term in the Position 4 seat while Holtzclaw, 47, is making his first bid for public office. The winner will earn a four-year term in a part-time job paying $500 a month.
Masterson said he ran four years ago because he wanted to get the council to stop trying to managing the city’s day-to-day operations and focus more on setting clear policy for the professional staff to carry out.
The former president and chief executive officer of the Oberto Co. said the change in approach has been accomplished but worries his challenger will push back to the old ways.
“There is a struggle in our town for the form of government we have,” he said.
Holtzclaw, a land-use lawyer, said Masterson is part of a majority that’s not been active enough and it resulted in adoption of a strategic plan last year that “didn’t lay out much of a meaningful plan for moving the city forward.”
He said it focused too much on how to raise money from taxpayers and too little on how to contain costs of government.
“I read it twice and I was struck by the lack of balance,” he said.
And out of the plan has emerged the concept of promoting economic development by building a new civic center complex with room for city offices and retail stores. The plan suggests some of the cost could be covered with a new utility tax.
“I don’t think we need a big City Hall complex to spur economic development,” Holtzclaw said.
And while he’s not “philosophically opposed to a tax increase,” any proposal must be supported by residents, he said.
Masterson insisted council members are not taking any steps toward building a new City Hall or approving a utility tax. All that’s happened, he said, is the city manager sketched out an idea in a council retreat earlier this year and there’s been no effort to push it along, he said.
He, like his opponent, isn’t opposed on principle to a utility tax as the revenues may be needed one day.
“I will not shut my eyes to the possibility because the city does have a revenue gap,” he said. “We did not keep pace (in the recession) on collection of either property taxes or any taxes to keep up with the rising costs of city operations.”
Masterson and Holtzclaw said they want to do whatever the city can do to attract businesses to the East Gateway Urban Village so it can evolve into a commercial hub and revenue generator.
Masterson also would like to see a regional library included in the village.
“It certainly would be good for the citizens and good for the city as well,” he said.
The election is Nov. 5.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; email@example.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.
Experience: Elected to the City Council in 2009; former member, city Parks and Recreation Board former president and chief operating officer, Oberto Co.; former corporate executive, Vienna Beef; bachelor of arts, Denison University.
Experience: Private attorney specializing in land use and real estate law; Bachelor of Arts, Whitman College; University of Puget Sound (now Seattle University) School of Law.