MUKILTEO — Happiness is a hot issue in the City Council election.
In this case, it’s spelled HAP-iness, and candidates tend to be either for it or against it.
HAP, short for Housing Action Plan to study and address housing needs in the city, is a matter of interpretation at this point. As well as misinterpretation.
Eleven candidates are competing for three open City Council positions. Six will advance to the November general election.
The contenders are a cast of former seat-holders, repeat hopefuls, new faces and the spouse of a current council member.
HAP is a top matter for the two candidates for mayor, who get a pass through the primary to compete in the November election.
Mayor Jennifer Gregerson, who chairs the Alliance for Affordable Housing and is a proponent of HAP, is running for a third term against former Mayor Joe Marine, who is against HAP.
Marine lost a bid for a third term of mayor to Gregerson in 2013. He returned to the political arena in 2019 on the council.
High-density housing is not part of the final HAP but was in an earlier version.
One thing is for certain: All the candidates have a lot of explaining to do about housing.
They responded by email to list their main issues and why they should be elected.
This is the first City Council election for Louis Harris, though he did run for the Snohomish County Council District 2 in 2019, as did Gregerson. Megan Dunn won that race.
Harris was appointed to fill a seat vacated by Anna Rohrbough when she moved out of state in 2020. He is the first Black member of the Mukilteo City Council.
In Position 1, he faces repeat hopefuls Peter Zieve and Tina Over. Both Zieve and Over have run for council twice previously, and last year they were among a field of 20 applicants for the seat to which Harris was appointed.
Harris is a public benefits specialist with the state Department of Social and Health Services.
“I believe the main issue in Mukilteo is balancing the burdens of regional growth with maintaining a high quality of living for Mukilteo residents,” Harris said. “I am a tireless public servant that knows how to amplify the voices of our residents and has an equitable approach and vision that will create solutions that put Mukilteo residents first.”
Over, a real estate agent, has served on non-profit, civic and PTA boards.
“I believe the issue that is most pressing to residents at the moment is adding affordable housing to Mukilteo,” Over said. “My goal is to represent the people of our community; all people of our community, whether we are different ethnicities, nationalities or religions.”
Zieve, an engineer and owner of Electroimpact, is an outspoken critic of HAP.
“I organized Preserve Mukilteo as a political committee to organize opposition,” Zieve said. “Along with other citizens I held a sign on the street corner for many hours, ‘No Mukilteo HAP.’ My slogan for this campaign is ‘Keep Mukilteo a Small Town.’”
This position has some familiar names vying for a seat.
Ayesha Riaz Khan is the wife of Councilman Riaz Khan. Kevin Stoltz served on the council for two prior terms and is vying for a seat after a long break.
Newcomers are Caitlein Ryan and Tom Jordal.
Jordal, president of Skyline Communications, a low-voltage contractor, said the main issue is voting “no” on HAP.
“We should keep local control of our building codes. We should limit growth so it does not overburden our infrastructure,” Jordal said. “This means listening carefully to a wide range of ideas and synthesizing a plan which serves our community.”
Khan, a substitute schoolteacher, has a list of issues.
“HAP, increment on car tabs, car racing, Hawthorne Hall and the parking issues at waterfront,” Khan said. “I want to bring diversity in the council to understand the needs of the diverse population in Mukilteo and welcome the vibe that we are an appealing, trustworthy space connecting cultures.”
Ryan cites her experience as a mother of four, a business owner and a director of a non-profit organization.
“The biggest issue in front of Mukilteo is how we approach growth. Whether it is the waterfront development, results from the HAP studies, or increasing ferry traffic, we are in a unique moment of development,” Ryan said.
“I am comfortable having difficult conversations with opposing views. I know how to approach differing opinions with a spirit of kindness and a focus on consensus.”
Stoltz, a network systems engineer, points to his prior terms.
“I served on the council when City Hall and the Rosehill Community Center were built, Lighthouse Park was renovated and Japanese Gulch property was purchased,” Stoltz said.
“Common to all the important issues we face is that maintaining our quality of life in Mukilteo has been a challenge with the development inside and outside of Mukilteo requiring a council that can work smarter, be more responsive to Mukilteo residents and passionately collaborate with others.”
Four candidates seek the Position 3 seat: former Councilman Steve Schmalz, Tim Ellis, Carolyn “Dode” Carlson and Alex Crocco.
Carlson, a retired post office manager and former Citizen of the Year, said she printed a copy of the city’s budget.
“The main issue in Mukilteo is economic recovery for our city and its businesses,” Carlson said. “We need more community involvement. More reasons to come together as community.”
She is proud to be the oldest candidate. “I have the most experience serving the community,” she said.
Schmalz, a two-term councilman, is regional sales manager at Voeller and Associates.
“Although the Housing Action Plan (which I would have voted against) seems to be the hot issue in Mukilteo, there are other important issues that need to be addressed by the council, such as improving pedestrian and vehicle traffic in and out of the waterfront, improving Mukilteo’s traffic calming program in residential neighborhoods, providing our seniors their own dedicated facility and balancing the budget without raising taxes or hidden fees (car tabs),” Schmalz said.
Crocco is a production and operations management leader.
“The main issue in Mukilteo is the disagreement about the future for Mukilteo, highlighted by the vote on the HAP,” Crocco said. “I am comfortable listening to diverse voices, asking tough questions and using data to create a path forward to benefit all of the people of Mukilteo.”
The flock of campaign signs at street corners don’t include any from Ellis, a retired aerospace company manager.
“I’ve decided not to put up any campaign signs. Creating the signs utilizes processes and resources that increase our carbon footprint,” Ellis said. “We’re at the point where each one of us should be considering what climate impact we are having with each choice we make. This applies to the Mukilteo City Council as well in everything from the budgeting process to the housing plan. I listen and learn as many facets of a subject as possible. Then I process the data and analyze what measurable aspects there may be within the issue to help determine what criteria I can use to make a sound decision.”
• Louis Harris
Experience: Appointed to council in 2020; Mukilteo precinct committee officer; NAACP of Snohomish County; YMCA of Snohomish County Board Trustee; Board of Directors Communities of Color Coalition.
• Peter Zieve
Experience: CEO of Electroimpact; created Preserve Mukilteo; youth and sports programs.
• Tina Over
Experience: Real estate agent; Mukilteo Civil Service Commissioner; PTA; Camden Homeowners Association; Leadership Launch.
Website: None listed
• Tom Jordal
Experience: President of Skyline Communications; youth sports, music and Scouts programs.
• Ayesha Riaz Khan
Experience: Substitute teacher, Mukilteo School District; youth and church programs
• Caitlein Ryan
Experience: Educator; nonprofit director; cannabis policy and regulation; Mukilteo Student Black Lives Matter march; PTA; Mukilteo Arts Guild.
• Kevin Stoltz
Experience: Mukilteo Council, two terms; Mukilteo Ferry Advisory and Waterfront Master Plan committees; Waterfront Wednesdays.
Website: None listed
• Steve Schmalz
Experience: Mukilteo council, two terms; Mukilteo Arts Guild; Trails and Tails Dog Park committee
Facebook: Re-Elect Steve Schmalz for Mukilteo City Council
• Tim Ellis
Experience: Retired aerospace company manager; Mukilteo Parks and Arts Commission; Mukilteo Climate Action Committee; WSU Beachwatcher.
• Carolyn “Dode” Carlson
Experience: Community Garden; Mukilteo Seniors Association; Rosehill Board; Parks and Arts Commission; Mukilteo Kiwanis.
• Alex Crocco
Experience: Manufacturing and operations management; 10 years service in the Army Reserves and National Guard.
Website: None listed