Jennifer Gregerson (left) and Joe Marine.

Jennifer Gregerson (left) and Joe Marine.

Mukilteo’s mayor and ex-mayor battle for a third term

With both candidates, voters know what they’re getting with Jennifer Gregerson or Joe Marine.

MUKILTEO — The third time will be the charm for one of these two mayoral candidates.

In the Nov. 2 election, it’s two-term former mayor Joe Marine versus two-term current mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

Whatever the outcome, it will be the first time in the city’s history a mayor serves three terms.

Marine would have set the record had Gregerson not defeated him with 54% of the vote in 2013.

The job has no set hours and pays $70,800 a year, plus medical, dental and retirement benefits.

The veteran politicians, who have extensive City Council experience as well, point to their records.

And they point out flaws in each other’s records.

With either candidate, the cake is baked. Voters know what they are getting.

She’s 43 and plays Pokémon Go. Her campaign signs are a low-key purple and green.

He’s a 59-year-old grandfather who plays golf. His bold blue-and-yellow signs are twice the size.

It has been a game of musical chairs for both.

Gregerson was on the council during Marine’s terms as mayor from 2006 to 2013.

Marine got back into politics with a successful run for council in 2018 and a motive to unseat Gregerson in 2021.

So, yeah, these two have spent a lot of time together.

They are apart on some key issues.

Housing is a hot-button topic. It’s a “he said/she said” with these two candidates.

Marine opposed Gregerson getting the city involved in the Housing Action Plan, a $100,000 grant to study and address housing needs.

What HAP means is a matter of interpretation, as well as misinterpretation.

“I voted against even accepting the grants when it first came to us,” Marine said. “There are strings attached.”

Marine proposed an advisory measure on the November ballot about whether the city should encourage high-density housing.

“High-density housing was not on the table for Mukilteo,” Gregerson said.

It was in an earlier version.

“I’m not against apartments. I’m not against any of that,” Marine said. “We’re built out. Now you’re talking about going in and literally changing existing zoning in existing built-out neighborhoods. That’s what I’m against.”

Gregerson said she supports looking at housing options for seniors and connecting people to resources so they can stay in their homes.

For the city, “Pandemic recovery is a big deal,” she said.

During her terms, Paine Field opened for passenger service and the newly opened ferry terminal was built, with planning started before she came into office.

Marine said a priority is preserving aerospace manufacturing jobs.

“We should have a park-and-ride lot in our community,” he said.

Both are concerned about public safety and traffic in the town.

Marine supported installing red-light cameras at several busy intersections in 2010.

“I think there are places where it makes sense,” Marine said. “But the people spoke pretty loudly.”

Gregerson said she opposes red-light cameras.

“Most folks appreciate the opportunity to talk with an officer if they’ve been pulled over rather than just getting a ticket in the mail,” she said.

Marine cites high turnover in her staff as a reason why he is running.

Gregerson 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 that.

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.

During Marine’s first term as mayor, the post’s part-time pay nearly tripled to its current salary.

Both agree it’s not a part-time job. But both have other jobs, as well.

She owns a yearbook service that employs two, plus herself. He is a self-employed insurance broker.

Gregerson said she typically puts in over 50 hours a week as Mukilteo’s CEO.

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

“You feel like you’re on all the time …” he said. “If you’re out in the community, you’re the mayor.”

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

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