Top from left: Ashvin Sanghvi, Mike Dixon and Donna Vago. Bottom from left: Richard Emery, Riaz Khan and Carolyn “Dode” Carlson.

Top from left: Ashvin Sanghvi, Mike Dixon and Donna Vago. Bottom from left: Richard Emery, Riaz Khan and Carolyn “Dode” Carlson.

Incumbents, newbies face off in Mukilteo City Council election

Waterfront development, EMS levy lift and Hawthorne Hall are among the biggest hot-button issues.

MUKILTEO — The three members elected next month to serve on the City Council face long meetings ahead.

The ongoing waterfront development saga, the failed levy lift for emergency services and the fate of 100-year-old Hawthorne Hall are among the issues.

The 26-acre waterfront has 11 different private and public property owners, including the city, the Port of Everett and the Tulalip Tribes. The challenge is to come up with a unified plan for the shoreline from Mukilteo’s Lighthouse Park to the port’s Edgewater Beach.

Hawthorne Hall, tucked at the end of a quiet residential street in Old Town, has a basketball court, kitchen and two multipurpose rooms as well as a sagging roof, lead paint and building code issues. The building, which housed the Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club for over 55 years, has been neglected since 2018 as historical groups and city officials debate its use.

Two council seats are held by incumbents, Richard Emery and Riaz Khan. Ashvin Sanghvi is challenging Emery for the Position 4 seat. Mike Dixon is after Khan’s Position 5 seat.

The Position 6 seat vacated by Elisabeth Crawford, elected to the council in 2019, has two contenders, Carolyn “Dode” Carlson and Donna Vago.

Jason Moon, appointed to the council in 2022, is running unopposed in his bid to retain Position 7.

In early 2022, Moon was selected from 10 applicants and unanimously approved by all council members to fill the seat that Joe Marine vacated when he was elected mayor. Two current candidates, Carlson and Sanghvi, also applied for the seat.

The four-year council post pays $500 per month.

Ballots will be mailed to voters Thursday. The last day to return ballots is Nov. 7.

Ashvin Sanghvi, left, and Richard Emery

Ashvin Sanghvi, left, and Richard Emery

Position 4

This is the first run for elected office for Sanghvi, a retired computer engineer who is on the city’s planning commission.

Ashvin Sanghvi, 65, said he wants to limit housing growth.

“An unintended consequence of central planning is haphazard urban growth incompatible with Mukilteo,” he said. “I plan to limit growth to planned multi-use communities.”

“We can add up to 600 units thoughtfully placed in a well-planned manner inside Mukilteo in reasonable space that will add value and have affordable housing for young professionals and seniors,” he added. “I stand against the 1,500 additional units that would end up as middle housing in the rest of the neighborhoods.”

He favors selling Hawthorne Hall.

“When you weigh everything together it appears it would be best as residential,” he said. “As a public facility, it’s going to require a lot of investment to start with and be a continuous investment. And it has limited parking.”

Sanghvi also wants to accelerate progress on waterfront development.

“The council needs to be aligned and informed with what the people want,” he said.

He supported the EMS levy lift on the August ballot that would have increased the levy rate from 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to 40 cents per $1,000. The cost would be about $9.25 per month for the average Mukilteo residence valued at $839,100.

“The worst thing to do is dig a well when you are thirsty. You need to have foresight,” he said.

Richard Emery, 76, was appointed to the council in 2008 and elected to four-year terms in 2015 and 2019.

“I was not intending to run again,” he said. “I realized I wasn’t finished.”

He’d like the city to implement a climate action plan for clean energy: “It’s time for the city to get some priorities in place to encourage actions to reduce our carbon footprint.”

This includes maximizing energy efficiency in city buildings and replacing aging city gas vehicles with hybrid or electric vehicles.

“The city could put in more charging stations to encourage people to use more EVs,” said Emery, who drives an electric car.

He is on the fence about the fate of Hawthorne Hall.

“It would be sad to lose it, but if they can’t find an appropriate use and can’t figure out how to deal with some of the structural issues, I can’t support keeping it just because we might find a use for it,” said Emery, a retired home renovation and remodeling contractor.

Like Sanghvi, he supported the failed EMS levy lift, but doesn’t see it as a permanent fix.

“It’s a drain on our general fund budget and if we would shift some of that back to the levy that would be helpful,” he said. “But also we need to look at the long-term affordability of our fire department and whether it would make sense to merge with South County Fire.”

Mike Dixon, left, and Riaz Khan

Mike Dixon, left, and Riaz Khan

Position 5

Mike Dixon is in a race against incumbent Riaz Khan.

Dixon, 57, owner of Farmers Insurance in Mukilteo, is a three-term water and sewer commissioner and chair of the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission.

He called the sale of Hawthorne Hall a “no-brainer.”

“Sell it, get the money,” Dixon said. “It does not provide any practical benefit. It’s not a good use of money.”

On waterfront development: “I think the Port of Everett is best suited to lead the development effort as long as we remain a vocal stakeholder and participant to ensure our views are known.”

The failed EMS levy needs to be on the ballot again, he said, but this time with more explanation.

“We need to try to explain to the citizens why it’s important,” Dixon said.

He said he will “push to try to change the tenor of the council.”

“My view is that the council has been a little bit contentious and dysfunctional in their relationship with the mayor,” he said. “There is a role of the policymaker and there’s the role of the executive and I’d like to see us function more that way than what I’ve been seeing.”

Khan, 53, is a manufacturing engineer at the Boeing Company.

Unlike his opponent, Khan opposes the sale of Hawthorne Hall.

“It’s a historical building. The building doesn’t need a lot of money to repair,” he said. “We can use the building for many things.”

He added: “If we sell now, the market is not in good shape right. The building with minor repairs will keep it alive. I will go after grants.”

He favors working with the Port of Everett on the waterfront.

“I’m not in support of bringing high-rise condos to the waterfront,” Khan said.

And as for the EMS levy lift: “I favor what the public has to say, I will go with that. I do not want to increase any taxes,” he said.

Donna Vago, left, and Carolyn “Dode” Carlson

Donna Vago, left, and Carolyn “Dode” Carlson

Position 6

The only council seat held by a woman will go to either Donna Vago or Carolyn “Dode” Carlson.

Vago, 61, a first-time candidate, is involved in neighborhood watch programs and was a member of the city’s Housing Action Plan stakeholder advisory group.

“The housing bills that are coming down from the state are taking away our rights,” she said. “I don’t want the state stepping on us.”

Vago favors selling Hawthorne Hall.

“It has been sitting there for five years,” she said. “I think they should honor their original contract with the citizens that they were going to recoup that $500,000 from the Boys & Girls Club.”

Like Carlson, she said the city needs a senior center.

“I could see there could be alternatives other than building something from scratch,” Vago said. “There are vacant spaces that they could use that have parking and a building already there.”

Carlson, 76, ran for council in 2021 and in the primary election, only seven votes separated her from Alex Crocco, who was defeated by two-time former council member Steve Schmalz in the general election.

Carlson, a retired post office manager, proposes having a senior center built on city property.

“All we need is the council to vote on a zoning change. We can’t move until we have a spot to build it, so we’re in limbo,” she said. “A lot of people think it’s just a place to have coffee. We need a commercial kitchen, a community garden, a place where people can come for wellness checks and be amongst other people.”

She wants to repair Hawthorne Hall and open it for residents, possibly for pickleball.

“I’m on the Historic Commission and our board wants to keep it,” she said. “Let’s get it open and maybe discuss selling it a couple years down the pike.”

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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