MILL CREEK — If you live in town, odds are good you’ve seen Donna Michelson on her daily run.
It can take the city councilwoman hours to make her way through Mill Creek’s trail network, as she stops to talk about traffic, parks or other staples of civic life.
“Everybody knows my life is running every day,” Michelson said. “That’s how I connect with my community.”
The longest-serving council member in the young city’s history, Michelson’s run in public office is about to end. She decided against seeking re-election in the spring and is ready to retire Dec. 31.
She’ll step down, but she isn’t going away.
“I’m going to stay involved,” she said.
Since her appointment to the City Council in March 1999, Michelson has kept busy. She’s had a hand in seeing through Mill Creek Town Center, the city’s bustling retail core, its Veterans Monument and the Sports Park. She’s been a catalyst for Art Walks and Great Garden Awards. She helped bring about free events for pet micro-chipping, electronics recycling and document shredding.
“Everything is teamwork,” she said. “There’s nothing that Donna did by herself.”
A celebration for Michelson is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers.
Michelson, 68, grew up in the Renton area. She worked as an administrative assistant at a steel company in Everett for 38 years before retiring. Her husband, Bruce, is still there — at 50 years and counting. They have a son and daughter, both in their 30s.
The couple moved to Mill Creek in 1978, five years before the city incorporated.
“What brought us to Mill Creek were covenants: They have rules here,” she said.
What was then essentially a homeowners association has evolved into an upscale city of about 20,000 people.
Michelson’s interest in city government grew in the 1990s, after she started an after-school center for teens.
She was one of a dozen people who sought an appointment to the City Council almost 19 years ago. The vacancy opened after John Lovick was elected to his first term in the state House of Representatives. Lovick is back in the Legislature now, after serving stints as sheriff and county executive.
Lovick and his wife, Karen, are friends with Michelson and her family. She worked as his campaign treasurer during his first several years as a state lawmaker.
“I’ve never been around a person who is so committed to public service as she is,” he said.
He confirmed that her daily exercise routine doubles as community outreach.
“She stops and talks to everybody,” he said. “She knows everybody.”
In 2001, Michelson cruised to victory for her first full term on the council. She ran unopposed in 2005 and 2009, then fended off two challengers in 2013. Michelson was appointed deputy mayor in 2002 and 2004, and served as mayor from 2006 through 2008.
She decided not to file for re-election this spring. Jared Mead ran unopposed for her Position 2 seat, and is set to take over next year.
City manager Rebecca Polizzotto called Michelson “a great community advocate.”
“Mill Creek has changed significantly under her watch, growing from a rural community to a vibrant and distinguished city,” Polizzotto said. “She has done many great things, and she will be missed.”
As Michelson looks toward the future, she hopes Mill Creek doesn’t change too much.
“At the end of the day, we may be a city, but we’re still a community,” she said. “That’s always been my goal. Keep it wonderful and don’t get too big.”
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @NWhaglund.
A retirement celebration for Mill Creek Councilwoman Donna Michelson is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers in City Hall South, 15728 Main St.