Mukilteo is the I’d-live-there arcadia anchored by an iconic lighthouse and waterfront Ivar’s (for the old guard, it’s still Taylor’s Landing.) Despite decades of urban growth, including annexation of Harbour Pointe in 1990, the ferry dock of 2013 looks suspiciously like the ferry dock of 1955. Smart growth, transportation and community engagement loom large for a great, small city.
For eight years, Joe Marine has ably shepherded Mukilteo and can take partial or full credit for a range of accomplishments. These include the Rosehill Community Center, the new city hall and Mukilteo Lighthouse Park. The city’s AAA bond rating is noteworthy, with the state as a whole still parked at AA+ thanks to the 1982 WPPSS default. Mukilteo’s high livability ranking is testament to its fine schools and natural beauty. (Politicos can’t take credit for the latter.)
There are a handful of issues that will drive Mukilteo’s future, from positioning of the ferry dock to preserving Japanese Gulch. And there’s the bugaboo of administrative overhead. Marine’s two thoughtful challengers, Mukilteo Councilmembers Jennifer Gregerson and Steve Schmalz, flag the excess of a town of 20,000 supporting a fulltime mayor and a fulltime city manager. They’re right. Make the mayor part time or ax the manager.
A common denominator is opposition to commercial air service at Paine Field. Marine, Gregerson and Schmalz didn’t gloat over the collapse of Allegiant Air’s service proposal, recognizing that, unless the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act is amended (hint: that will never happen) and FAA rules are tweaked, future commercial efforts are inevitable. Marine shifts the commercial-air issue to the future of aerospace manufacturing. It’s a shrewd sidestep, but there’s little evidence that commercial air service and a robust aerospace sector are mutually exclusive.
The next mayor will need to focus on scooping up the remaining 98 acres of Japanese Gulch, requiring an aggressive, enterprising approach with a bankrupt owner. Gregerson tapped a well known land conservation agency to assist with the city’s planning, a shrewd move. Gregerson’s 10 years on the council and regional leadership experience gives her the edge over fellow councilmember Schmalz. The salient policy difference is where to move the ferry dock, with Gregerson siding with Marine on a post-tank farm location and Schmalz looking to expand the current site. Schmalz also underscores the city’s eagerness to jack property taxes without controlling costs and Rosehill’s non-community scramble to keep afloat by hosting weddings.
Three solid candidates. The Herald Editorial Board recommends Joe Marine and Jennifer Gregerson in the Aug. 6 primary.