Vincent J. Cavaleri, left, and Tannis Golebiewski

Vincent J. Cavaleri, left, and Tannis Golebiewski

Mill Creek candidates differ on city’s growth, public safety

City Council incumbent Vincent Cavaleri opposes state guidance on growth management. Tannis Golebiewski says residents should have a say.

MILL CREEK — The race for Position 5 on the Mill Creek City Council is the only contested election this year for the city of over 20,000 people.

Incumbent Vincent Cavaleri, 58, faces Tannis Golebiewski, 46, for a four-year term and annual salary of $12,000.

Cavaleri, a conservative who ran for Congress against U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene last year, has been a deputy in jail operations for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for over two decades.

Golebiewski has been endorsed by Snohomish County Democrats, and in addition to being a stay-at-home mom for 24 years, she has most recently served as chair of the city’s Park and Recreation Board.

Both Cavaleri and Golebiewski list population growth management and public safety as top priorities. The candidates want to balance city development with preservation and protect Mill Creek’s charm. Cavaleri feels limiting state intervention is key to achieve these goals. Golebiewski believes engaging with residents is critical.

Some voters told Golebiewski that because of upheaval at City Hall in recent years, they’ve become disillusioned with local politics. She wants to change that.

Incumbents Melissa Duque and Sean Paddock are running unopposed for City Council positions six and seven, respectively.

Vincent Cavaleri

Cavaleri has written a regular column in the Mill Creek View newspaper since 2019, a platform for him to share his “pro-individual liberty” beliefs, he said.

In one column from September 2020, he encouraged schools to reopen despite heightened concerns of COVID-19. He criticized transgender athletes competing in women’s sports in another column last spring.

“I think it hurts me a little bit,” Cavaleri said about how his column affects his relationships with residents. “But I didn’t get into this job to be liked.”

He said he doesn’t subscribe to “groupthink,” making him a unique City Council member.

When he was first elected in 2015, Cavaleri promised the creation of Exploration Park — a grassy area and playground he said is now the “gem” of Mill Creek. Now, before a possible third term, he’s promising to restore another green space: Silver Crest Park.

He pushed his colleagues until they approved funding for the project earlier this month, he said. Construction is expected to start in spring to restore the park’s basketball court, paths, benches and picnic tables.

Regarding the city’s growth, Cavaleri said it is inevitable, but he doesn’t want development to be forced. He referenced this year’s Growth Management Act, requiring cities in Snohomish County, among other Washington counties, to encourage urban growth. If re-elected, Cavaleri said he will collaborate with local leaders to combat the legislation.

Growing just to grow is “stupid,” Cavaleri said.

Vincent J. Cavaleri

Vincent J. Cavaleri

Cavaleri similarly opposes state government attempts to negate city anti-camping and anti-loitering ordinances. He said authoring an ordinance prohibiting camping on public property was an achievement of his past term.

The state, he said, has been “trying to take away the autonomy of cities.”

Cavaleri said he always keeps his full-time role as a sheriff’s deputy in mind when considering City Council initiatives. He wants to push for mandatory arrests in theft cases, and in light of recent state reforms, he wants to ensure police can pursue criminals without difficulty, he said.

“When permissiveness sets in, bad things happen,” he said. “You can’t be soft on crime.”

Cavaleri won his seat with 53% of the vote in in 2015, then was reelected with 62% in 2019.

After two terms on the City Council and his congressional bid in 2022, Cavaleri said he’s “absolutely tired of running.” But he strives to “fill a void” with his City Council seat.

“I really love my community and would do anything to protect it,” he said.

Tannis Golebiewski

Golebiewski said residents and tourists alike are attracted to Mill Creek’s natural areas.

“People know us as a space that’s filled with trees,” she said.

She wants to prioritize development of the parcels adjacent to Mill Creek Sports Park, dubbed the “DRCC properties,” an acronym for the land’s former owners: Dobson, Remillard, Church and Cook.

Mill Creek acquired three of the properties that make up the site in 2008 and the fourth property in 2021. Now 15 years since the city acquired most of the properties, officials are working with a contractor to complete a master plan for the site. Construction of the new recreation area is expected to begin late next year.

Golebiewski is disappointed work at the DRCC site has been slow. She wants to advance the project to provide more recreational opportunities.

Regarding citywide concerns about population spikes and public safety, Golebiewski aligns with the City Council’s current posture. She supports a long-term plan that considers population growth over the next 20 years and efforts to fully staff the city’s police department with at least 24 employees — a process that is nearly complete.

But she wants the city to offer more ways for residents to share input.

Tannis Golebiewski

Tannis Golebiewski

Being a stay-at-home mom has allowed her to volunteer with organizations her five children have been a part of, like Girl Scouts. These experiences have made her aware of residents’ needs, she said.

She envisions police officers holding more public-facing events, like letting children explore their patrol vehicles, and partnering with local agencies to provide social services for people without housing.

With many residents wary of more large apartment complexes, Golebiewski hopes the council can host public comment sessions so people can state their concerns and come up with compromises. Maybe the city can create programs for first-time home buyers or expand development of existing properties, she said.

And she wants to combat the perception the City Council makes decisions behind closed doors. If elected, she hopes to spread awareness about the issues council members are working on.

“Let’s make sure that residents have a voice and also have an ear,” Golebiewski said.

Ballots for Snohomish County elections are due Nov. 7.

Ta’Leah Van Sistine: 425-339-3460; taleah.vansistine@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @TaLeahRoseV.

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