Joe Marine (left) and Jennifer Gregerson.

Joe Marine (left) and Jennifer Gregerson.

Mayor vs. Mayor: Gregerson and Marine face off in Mukilteo

The job as Mukilteo’s CEO and ceremonial head pays $70,800 a year. Official filing is in May.

MUKILTEO — It’s mayor vs. ex-mayor.

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson is seeking a third term against a familiar foe — former mayor Joe Marine.

Both two-term mayors say they plan to run. The official filing window is May 17 to 21 for the Aug. 3 primary, so others might join in the race.

Gregerson defeated Marine at the polls in 2013, and she was re-elected in 2017. Marine got back into politics with a seat on the City Council in 2019.

Marine, 58, an insurance broker, said he wants to revamp City Hall to what it was in his mayor days.

“Mukilteo has been lacking leadership in that position and results,” Marine said. “By now, we should have annexed the eastside of the Speedway.”

Gregerson has had successes and some controversy.

“I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish as mayor, but I feel there is more to be done,” Gregerson said. “Surviving through this pandemic and facing a long recovery, I think I am ready to lead us through that. It’s an important position and I knew I wanted to continue.”

During her terms, Paine Field opened for commercial airport service and the newly opened ferry terminal was constructed, with planning started before she came into office. She spearheaded the development of the Harbour Reach Corridor Project, set to open in June, and the regional housing partnership Alliance for Housing Affordability.

She approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance payments to departing employees without telling the City Council, which voted to hire an outside attorney to investigate. State auditors concluded there were no clear rules that prevented her from doing this.

Gregerson, 42, considered leaving the city executive post when she ran for the Snohomish County Council in 2019. She came in a close third in the primary and did not advance to the general election.

Marine said he does not support Gregerson’s Housing Action Plan that could change zoning in some Mukilteo neighborhoods.

“They are trying to push density,” he said.

He said he is not a member of Preserve Mukilteo, a campaign opposing low-income housing that is led by controversial businessman and unsuccessful council candidate Peter Zieve.

“I am certainly listening to what their concerns are,” Marine said.

A recent post on Nextdoor by Zieve and Preserve Mukilteo about a five-story apartment complex drew a debate with some 400 comments. The complex is on unincorporated land on the Lynnwood side of Mukilteo Speedway but Zieve complained this is what people see when they enter Mukilteo.

A second virtual community meeting about the Housing Action Plan is set for 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss which strategies to study further.

Mukilteo is a bedroom community of about 21,400. The median household income is $108,536, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which lists the median home value from 2015-19 at $582,700.

The post as Mukilteo’s CEO and ceremonial head pays an annual base salary of $70,800. It doesn’t have set working hours and is not classified as full-time, but entails extensive meetings and community engagement.

Gregerson has a side job with a yearbook company. She said she puts in 50 to 60 hours a week as mayor.

Marine said he did, too, when he was mayor.

The City Council voted in May 2019 in favor of putting a proposition on the ballot to change the decades-old structure of a strong mayor to a council-manager who’d be the chief executive of Mukilteo. Voters rejected it in the general election.

Up for grabs in the 2021 election are three seats on the Mukilteo City Council. These are Position No. 1, held by Louis Harris, Position 2 held by Bob Champion, and Sarah Kneller’s Position 3.

Louis was appointed to complete the remainder of the term in 2019 when councilmember Anna Rohrbough moved out of state. Champion, the 2021 council vice president, was elected in 2013 and 2017. He served as council president from 2015 to 2017. Kneller, the 2021 council president, was elected to council in 2017.

City Council posts pay $6,000 a year.

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

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