MARYSVILLE — Much has changed in Marysville since Jeffrey Vaughan joined the City Council in 2003.
It’s got more people, businesses, homes, traffic and everything else accompanying its distinction as one of the area’s fastest growing cities.
Cindy Gobel doesn’t think he’s done enough during his tenure to respond to all that growth.
So Gobel, who moved to town in 2000, decided to challenge Vaughan, hoping to convince voters in the Nov. 2 election it is time for a new face on the council.
“We’ve had a lot of growth over the years. There are issues I noticed in 2000 that are still issues today,” she said. “If you’ve been in office 18 years, I would have expected some of these to have been taken care of. This year, I decided that’s it. I know I can get things done.”
Vaughan said stuff is getting done. Construction of a new city jail and establishment of a regional fire authority, both backed by voters, will boost public safety. The city is working to get funding to build overpasses to reduce congestion and give drivers a way around railroad tracks. And property taxes haven’t gone up, in part because of his staunch opposition.
“Unlike my opponent, I have a record. I stand by it,” he said.
The Vaughan-Gobel matchup is one of four council races on the ballot.
Councilman Mark James seeks a second term in Position 2. He is opposed by Ambyrlee Gattshall .
Tragedy reset the dynamics in the race for Position 3 where Councilman Tom King is pursuing a second term.
Kevin Gallagher, a 52-year-old banking executive, who was running against King, died Oct. 13 of natural causes. Gallagher’s name is still on the ballot and votes cast for him will be counted. If he emerges the winner, the City Council will have to decide how to fill the seat.
Councilman Michael A. Stevens is unchallenged for Position 4. Appointed to his seat in 2010, Stevens is in line to secure his third full term.
The race between Vaughan and Gobel is attracting the most conversation of the council contests.
Vaughan is executive director of the Evergreen Safety Council. He and his wife previously ran a business selling safety products. He was appointed to the Marysville council in 2003. Voters elected him to a four-year term in 2005 and re-elected him three times since.
In each election, he said he has not taken any contributions.
”I don’t like asking for money,” he said, insisting the purpose of contributions is to buy influence. “The decisions I’ve made are solely about what I feel are right and serve the best interests of the citizens. If folks in town want me to serve another term, I’ll leave it up to them.”
An independent political action committee — Responsible Economic Growth in Our Neighborhood — did spend $9,037 on a mailer supporting him. Most of the PAC’s money comes from developers with projects in Snohomish County. NorthPoint Development, which is constructing several buildings in the Cascade Industrial Center straddling the border of Arlington and Marysville, has contributed $21,000 to the group in the past two years, according to online records of the Public Disclosure Commission.
“I was surprised to see that,” Vaughan said of the mailer. “I didn’t know about it. I am not beholden to those interests. It is probably in response to what my opponent is doing.”
Gobel has raised $15,310 and had spent about a third as of Monday, according to online records. Nearly all of her money has come from individuals, some of whom are active in the Democratic Party. She is an active Democrat too but said that won’t impede her ability to serve all interests from the nonpartisan council seat.
“I have great support from Democrats. I am nonpartisan as a person,” said Gobel, a former police dispatcher who works as a legal compliance officer for Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican. Gobel also worked in the Snohomish County auditor’s office and ran unsuccessfully for auditor in 2019.
On the campaign, Gobel portrays herself as the choice for change. She said she will work to bring a diversity of voices into the council’s decision-making process.
Gobel said building more overpasses is a “big deal” and so too is increasing the stock of affordable housing. She said the city needs more behavioral health services and wants to open a year round shelter where people can be connected with the social services they need.
“Our social services are really lacking here. We can’t rely on Everett and Mount Vernon to provide services for our residents,” she said.
Vaughan said the biggest challenge facing the city is “being able to ensure the economic prosperity of our community.” Supporting small businesses, promoting creation of local jobs and revitalizing downtown will continue to be of great importance for him, he said.
Raising taxes will not. Vaughan has opposed boosting property taxes every year he’s served. “We’ve done well with what (taxpayers) have already given us,” he said.
In the race for Position 2, James said managing Marysville’s growth and demand for services are the major challenges facing the next council.
James, 59, who owns Hometown Value Savings, ran unsuccessfully for a state legislative seat in 2020. He said if re-elected he wants to work on boosting the city’s park and trail system. And he forecast work on the I-5 on- and off-ramps to State Avenue should be done. “People will be able to get in and out without having to worry about the trains,” he said. The Grove Street overpass should be finished too.
Gottshall, 26, who works in retail, travels to her job on foot and by bus. Those she meets on her daily journeys provided inspiration to seek office.
She said people who are homeless need a shelter with a shower, roads need tending to and the “magic” in downtown Marysville needs to be unleashed.
“I see all these things. I hear it every day from people I meet and who are stopping at my work,” she said. “I understand that may mean more taxes. But I really want to help everyone. I like helping people.”