Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring gives the state of the city address to a full room at the Marysville Civic Center on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring gives the state of the city address to a full room at the Marysville Civic Center on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

3 takeaways from Marysville mayor’s state of the city speech

Crime, business and roads were focal points as Mayor Jon Nehring addressed an audience of more than 50 for the annual speech this week.

MARYSVILLE — Mayor Jon Nehring addressed an audience of more than 50 for his annual “State of the City” speech Wednesday night.

“It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as your mayor,” said Nehring, who has been in office since 2010 and ran unopposed last year. “It’s never lost me that I work for you.”

Here’s what Nehring had to say on three key topics.

On public safety

Crime is up slightly, Nehring said, though the city is still well below a 2014 spike.

Calls for service in the city increased 15% compared to 2022, jumping from 61,896 to 71,178 last year.

“There’s no greater responsibility” for public officials than public safety, Nehring said.

Emphasis patrols in parts of the city where police are “gonna spend some extra time,” he said, are part of the city’s public safety efforts.

Bookings at the Marysville Municipal Jail increased by 63% between 2022 and 2023.

In 2023, “Covid booking restrictions were dropped, the jail was fully staffed, and legislation stabilized, allowing officers some certainty with detentions, arrests, and what they could effect an arrest for,” Marysville Police Chief Erik Scairpon wrote in an email to The Daily Herald.

Another avenue for addressing crime is the city’s new “mandatory minimum” law, passed by the City Council in October. The ordinance set a 30-day minimum jail sentence for people who commit three “public disorder crimes” in five years, a penalty that increases with more offenses.

Nehring also called attention to his membership on the Mayors and Business Leaders for Public Safety coalition. With 16 mayors in its ranks, the Snohomish County group lobbied the state Legislature last year on issues such as police pursuits and state drug possession laws, he said.

A 2021 Washington Supreme Court ruling known as the Blake decision declared the state’s felony drug possession law unconstitutional. A stopgap measure made possession a misdemeanor, but required police to offer people treatment the first two times they were caught with an illegal drug.

The state’s new possession law, which took effect last summer, contains no such requirement.

In an interview, Scairpon argued the Blake stopgap law was partly to blame for the rise in crime. Other factors, he said, include a state law severely limiting police pursuits, which was modified last spring; organized retail theft; and short-staffing at the county prosecutor’s office and city police department.

Police staffing levels have improved this year, Scairpon wrote in an email. The department is down to just five vacancies this year, compared to 17 in 2023.

In his speech, Nehring said drugs were to blame for the majority of crimes.

Inmates at the city jail can access treatments like Suboxone, he said, and receive nursing care. Social workers embedded with the police department also get people into treatment.

“If you could magically wipe out the drug problem across the country,” Nehring said, crime would go down “dramatically.”

On business growth

Nehring focused attention on the Cascade Industrial Center, a 20-plus-year project to encourage industrial development on a tract covering land in both Marysville and Arlington. The two cities partnered on the project, winning a 2023 Governor’s Smart Communities Award for their work.

“We are largely a bedroom community, meaning most of our citizens hit I-5 or 405, travel pretty long distances to deal with traffic to get to their place of employment,” Nehring said. “We would like to have a way for people to find family wage jobs or more of them” in Marysville.

There are over 100 “manufacturing or warehouse-related businesses operating” on that land right now, he said, with several million square feet of buildings under construction.

Some of Cascade’s tenants are the state’s largest Amazon distribution center; a Tesla supply facility; Soli Organics, an indoor farming venture growing herbs and salad greens; Gravitics, a space module builder; and Eviation, which has built and test-flown a fully electric commuter airplane.

Nehring also spotlighted other businesses that have either recently opened in Marysville or plan to this year, including Volli Pickleball and Los Toxicos Antojitos, noting the city has a “small business mentality.”

On transportation and infrastructure

The city has a number of major infrastructure projects coming down the pike. One big one: widening the final stretch of State Avenue from three to five lanes between 104th Place NE and 116th Street NE, part of a 20-year project to widen 7 miles of the road.

The road expansion is ”really, really critical for the growth of our city,” Nehring said, projecting it will be done this year. The project cost $50 million over two decades, including $9.2 million for the final phase.

Another big project is on the interchange between I-5 and Highway 529, which becomes State Avenue. The $123 million project building new ramps and extending the I-5 carpool lane on northbound I-5 is funded by the state’s Connecting Washington program.

That project will finish in 2025, Nehring said.

It isn’t the only change planned for Highway 529. The highway will see a number of closures in the coming months for repairs to the Snohomish River and Steamboat Slough bridges. The road is a key route between Everett and Marysville.

Nehring acknowledged the coming closures were “concerning,” though the interchange work won’t start until later.

The long-term benefits of the interchange project will ultimately outweigh the short-term inconvenience of its construction, he said.

“I’ve grown to realize over the years how critical” transportation and infrastructure are to a city, he said. “Whether it’s just getting citizens to and from their house, to and from work, whether it’s getting goods to market, whatever it is.”

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

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