Mukilteo mayor launches campaign for Snohomish County post

Jennifer Gregerson intends to stay on as mayor as she vies with others for an open County Council seat.

Jennifer Gregerson

Jennifer Gregerson

MUKILTEO — Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson announced Thursday that she’s running for the Snohomish County Council.

The Democrat could have at least two competitors, and maybe many more, as she seeks to replace term-limited Councilman Brian Sullivan. Gregerson has weathered a no-confidence vote and other recent criticism at City Hall, but intends to stay on as mayor during next year’s campaign.

“I’m running because I want to help tackle the important issues facing our county,” she said Thursday. “The growth that we expect, public safety, affordable housing and the opioid crisis.”

County Council District 2 spans Everett, Tulalip and Mukilteo.

Gregerson, 40, grew up in Mukilteo. She was first elected mayor in 2013 and won again four years later. She touts her advocacy on regional issues such as transit and education, as well as promoting waterfront redevelopment in Mukilteo. She has a master’s degree in urban planning.

“I have a deep understanding of local government and how to get things done,” she said.

As mayor, she helped lead Mukilteo’s efforts opposing commercial air service at Paine Field. A terminal is now built and two-dozen daily flights could start early next year, pending FAA approval. Gregerson said she’s ready to move on from that issue.

“Now that service is about to begin, I’m proud that I was able to represent our community and our community’s interests,” she said. “Now I’m looking forward to the benefits that the supporters of service have long said were to come: economic development and easier travel options.”

Gregerson’s leadership has come under fire. In August, a majority of the City Council handed her a vote of no confidence. Critics accused her of dishonesty and manipulation for the way she handled severance payments for several former city employees.

Gregerson characterized the actions against her as “political and personal.”

A City Council majority voted in October to hire a lawyer to investigate whether the mayor overstepped her authority by signing off on contracts without council approval. State auditors are likely to review some of the same questions during their yearly review of city finances.

“There’s nothing new to uncover,” Gregerson said. “I’ve been really upfront about the legal advice I’ve been getting and the direction we’ve taken.”

Gregerson won’t be lonely in seeking the county job.

Alex Lark also has started campaigning for it. Lark, 31, ran for the Everett City Council last year, but came up short against a longtime incumbent. He’s an Everett planning commissioner and an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve who has worked for congressional Democrats and holds progressive political views.

Also likely to join the fray is Megan Dunn, a leader in the drive to switch Everett to district-based City Council elections.

The official filing week isn’t until May. A top-two primary in August will narrow down the field.

The job will pay nearly $127,000 in 2020.

Council District 2 is Democrat-friendly. When Sullivan ran against a Republican to win his first two terms, he took more than two-thirds of the vote. He lost a tight primary race for Everett mayor last year.

A former state lawmaker, Sullivan has political aspirations after the County Council. He has filed to run for county treasurer in 2019.

Also facing term limits are County Treasurer Kirke Sievers, County Clerk Sonya Kraski and County Auditor Carolyn Weikel.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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