2 challenge 26-year incumbent for spot on Marsyville council

Marysville City Council candidates for Position #2 are (from left) Mark James, Donna Wright and Jason Call.

MARYSVILLE — Two new candidates are challenging a councilwoman who has held a seat here for 26 years.

Businessman Mark James and teacher Jason Call are running for Marysville City Council position 2. Donna Wright is seeking re-election.

The two who get the most votes in the August primary move on to the general election in November. They’re vying for a four-year term. It pays $1,200 a month.

The candidates agree that city leaders need to follow through with planned road improvements, draw employers and bring a sense of identity to Marysville.

They differ on priorities for health and safety, development and whether they believe all neighborhoods are represented by the council.

Donna Wright, 77, was appointed to the council in 1990 and, with the exception of a two-year break, has kept the seat. She and her husband owned and now contract with a local Coldwell Banker office. She said her elected experience and connections set her apart.

Mark James, 55, publishes the Hometown Values Savings Magazine with his wife. He works with diverse local businesses and said he understands their needs. He hasn’t held a publicly elected position before.

“While I respect what (Wright’s) done, I think it’s time for a change,” he said. “I think that’s how our government is set up, so we can have a fresh perspective.”

Jason Call, 45, is a high school math teacher in the Edmonds School District and moved to Marysville in 2008. He’s worked with teachers unions, Democratic organizations and initiative campaigns, but has not held public office. He describes himself as an activist, and running for office as the end game of activism.

All three candidates say they want to focus on projects in the city’s transportation plan, particularly a new I-5 interchange and an overpass above the railroad tracks on Grove Street. James calls them “release valves” for the increasing pressure of traffic. Wright said the key is staying on track with the plan, and Call said one of the first things he’d do if elected is review the plan and current contracts.

The candidates say bringing more employers to Marysville also would ease traffic by lessening commutes, and increase the city’s tax base.

James would like to see destination businesses, such as a local market where shops could flourish and restaurants, wineries or distilleries could host evening events.

Wright pictures the waterfront near Ebey Slough redeveloped with shops, condos and a park that emphasizes the slough’s connections to other waterways.

Call wants to push for city building codes that would promote the use of sustainable materials, natural lighting and renewable energy. That could draw green manufacturers to Marysville. Call also wants to focus on employers who bring union jobs, he said.

He thinks the city should have council districts for elections. Current members and candidates, himself included, are clustered in south and central Marysville. He worries voices in the north part of the city aren’t heard.

Wright and James disagree. It’s an interesting thought, James said, but he doesn’t see the need as long as the council takes all views into consideration. Public issues are similar across the city, Wright said.

Wright and James list funding public safety as a priority and don’t want to soften law enforcement’s approach to handling criminal issues related to homelessness and addiction. James wants to add equipment and staffing for emergency responders, and supports an EMS levy also on the Aug. 1 ballot.

Wright is looking at the need for a new public safety building.

“Our jail is outdated,” she said. “It’s too old to fix up … I think we’ll have to ask the citizens for the money.”

Call wants to partner with neighboring cities to open a new treatment and rehabilitation center. It’s important to treat addiction as a health rather than criminal crisis, he said.

“I think we might be able to agree on what would be good for the city, but not necessarily how to get there,” Call said.

Ballots should be mailed to registered voters Thursday.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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