By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — It’s been a dozen years since Councilwoman Donna Michelson had an opponent in an election.
This year she has two, Jason Wingert and Douglas Carlson. The three candidates are vying in the Aug. 6 primary and the two with the most votes will compete in November for a four-year term in Position 2.
Mill Creek incorporated in 1983 and is home to an estimated 18,500 residents. Its population’s grown through a series of annexations and its economy’s blossomed with the emergence of Mill Creek Town Center.
There have been emotional civic battles such as a protracted row over where to build a new senior center, which ended without any action. When the recession hit the city hard, the council, including Michelson, backed a hike in the sales tax to bring in money for public safety. Voters approved the increase last fall.
Michelson, 64, was appointed to the City Council in 1999 to finish the term of John Lovick following his election to the Legislature. In 2001, she captured 73 percent of the vote to earn a full term. She ran unopposed in 2005 and 2009.
As a councilmember, she said she’s been the “instigator” behind creation of free community events including document shredding, electronic recycling and pet microchipping.
She said she is seeking another term to work on implementing the city’s strategic plan which aims to ensure Mill Creek develops its economy without undermining services to residents. A proposal for an urban village, including a Target department store, on land situated on the city’s east side is going to be a primary focus of that effort, she said.
“I believe my history with the city is really critical to making sure we do it right,” she said. “We have happy employees. We have happy citizens. I’m very proud to call Mill Creek home.”
Wingert, 45, is a financial adviser and owner of the Wingert Insurance Agency. He is seeking elected office for the first time.
“I’ve always had a passion to serve,” he said. “I want to make sure Mill Creek remains a wonderful place to live for generations to come.”
Though no single issue drew him into the race, Wingert said the stability of the city budget is a concern. It’s also apparent he wants to make the incumbent’s lengthy time in office an issue for voters to consider.
“I just think it’s time for a fresh set of eyes,” he said. “The old way of doing things isn’t going to work anymore.”
He wants Target to come to town — “to bring in a Big Box store like that would be a big win for the city” — while moving deliberatively on any additional annexations. He doesn’t see a need for any new taxes.
Carlson, another first-time candidate, is retired from the federal Department of Health and Human Services where he studied the effects on human health from industrial chemicals in the food supply.
If elected, he said he will “listen to the community and follow what the community wants. I’m just going to be using valid, objective measures when I consider the motions before the council.”
He said he disagreed with the council decision to allow larger signs for businesses. And he said he is concerned the city’s desire to bring Target to town has it “bending over backwards” for the company.
“What do they have to offer but a bunch of low-paid jobs,” he said.
While he’s the more outspoken of the two challengers, he’s vowed to not make it personal.
“I told Donna Michelson that I’m not interested in a highly contentious election,” he said. “I’m more interested in giving back to the community.”
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mill Creek City Council Position 2
What’s the job?
At stake is a four-year term on the Mill Creek City Council. Council members earn $500 a month or $6,000 a year.
Meet the candidates
Experience: Appointed to City Council in 1999, re-elected in 2001, 2005 and 2009; former board member Citizens for Safe Snohomish County.
Age: Decline to state
Experience: Bachelor’s of science in analytical chemistry; retired laboratory chemist, federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Experience: Owner, Wingert Insurance Agency; Mill Creek Business Association member; Little League baseball coach.