Kymm Shipman, left, and Gloria Ngezaho

Kymm Shipman, left, and Gloria Ngezaho

Lake Stevens council candidates talk transit, transparency, police

Gloria Ngezaho believes the mayor should’ve signed a Pride proclamation. Kymm Shipman wants a stronger police presence.

LAKE STEVENS — One candidate for Lake Stevens City Council sees public safety as the biggest issue in the city. The other thinks it’s transparency in the current council.

Mary Dickinson, the current seat holder for Position 4, is not running for re-election. Gloria Ngezaho and Kymm Shipman are vying for the seat.

Ryan Donoghue and Anji Jorstad are running unopposed for the council, where the positions are nonpartisan. Incumbent Mayor Brett Gailey does not have a challenger, either.

City Council members make $11,244 per year. It’s a four-year term. Ballots are due Nov. 7.

Gloria Ngezaho

Ngezaho, 40, doesn’t think the current council is representative of the people or transparent in its work.

“I’ve heard time and time again, people feel like they aren’t listened to,” he said.

Ngezaho noted there is little room for members of the public to give their thoughts to the city.

It can be difficult for some to comment at City Council meetings, he said. And comments are disabled on the city’s Facebook page.

“How many people are taken out of the equation by doing that?” he asked.

Ngezaho is the work force equity manager for King County’s Department of Human Resources. He also serves as co-chair of the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission and the chair of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County’s board of directors.

He said his broad experience in government and the connections he has made would be an asset for the council, especially when working with state leaders.

Gloria Ngezaho

Gloria Ngezaho

In June, Mayor Gailey decided not to sign a Pride proclamation. For the previous two years, Gailey had signed one. The move disappointed Ngezaho.

“What annoyed me the most is they didn’t even want to have a conversation about it,” Ngezaho said. “They didn’t want to debate it.”

He said as the leader of a city with nearly 40,000 people, you shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose which communities you want to represent or value.

“If I did that, I would resign because I no longer represent the people,” he said.

Infrastructure is lacking in Lake Stevens, Ngezaho said, calling for more sidewalks that are accessible.

He said using public transportation to get around the city is almost impossible. Only one Community Transit bus route goes through part of the city, with start and end points in Everett and Granite Falls. He wants more routes.

On the City Council, he said he would push for more investment in affordable housing.

Ngezaho has received nearly $8,000 in campaign contributions. Dickinson, the current seat holder, has contributed more than $600 to his campaign.

Kymm Shipman

Shipman, 61, is concerned about crime rate in Lake Stevens.

Crime in Lake Stevens has been steady, according to data from the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs, though Shipman said it has not felt that way.

Last year, Lake Stevens police recorded 57 burglaries, 174 assaults and 64 vehicle thefts. Five years earlier, the department documented ever-so-slightly higher figures: 61 burglaries, 187 assaults and 72 vehicle thefts.

Shipman, who owns a child care and early learning center named Kids Way, supports a stronger police presence in the city. She doesn’t want to see cops “replaced” by social workers.

“Anytime you take an officer out of a car and you put someone else in that car, you’re taking money away from my officers,” she said.

Kymm Shipman

Kymm Shipman

Lake Stevens police lack funding be fully staffed, she said. Police Chief Jeff Beazizo said Wednesday the department is four officers short of full staffing.

Shipman doesn’t share the concerns Ngezaho has about transparency in the City Council. She said she hears both good and bad things from people, but tries to focus on the good things the council has done.

Last year, Lake Stevens nearly lost federal funding for not making sidewalks, curbs and signal buttons compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She said the council shouldn’t be blamed for not complying with ADA standards when those violations happened in 2016. Ngezaho, however, said the council should have been more cognizant in making sure the city was complying.

The city released a new plan in April outlining how the city would fix those errors.

Money used to redo the work could have been invested elsewhere, if the council got it right the first time, Ngezaho said.

“Our current councilors are correcting errors that were made in the past,” Shipman said.

She agreed with Ngezaho that more sidewalks and infrastructure are necessary.

Shipman said the city is already working with Community Transit to expand public transportation, but she said ridership is down and demand isn’t as high.

“I think crime has a lot to do with it,” she said. “I wouldn’t let my kids ride the bus.”

In 2022, Community Transit’s ridership numbers were up by 19% from the previous year. However, ridership has not fully rebounded to reach pre-pandemic numbers.

Shipman cited a September study from the University of Washington showing traces of meth and fentanyl smoke linger on local public transit. Sound Transit noted riding public transit is generally safe and drug traces in the air are “extremely low.”

Shipman has received over $12,000 in campaign contributions. Nearly $5,000 of her campaign is self-funded. Nearly $4,000 came from Lake Stevens developers and construction companies, a contingent that has financed other recent council races. Other contributions have come from sitting council members Kim Daughtry, Gary Petershagen and Steve Ewing.

Jenelle Baumbach: 360-352-8623; jenelle.baumbach@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jenelleclar

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