MUKILTEO — People opposing aerospace executive Peter Zieve’s bid for City Council are taking matters into their own hands.
On Tuesday, they announced an independently funded campaign targeting the defeat of Zieve, who is challenging incumbent City Council President Bob Champion in the Nov. 7 election.
Organizers of the new political committee known as Mukilteo For All say they want to spread the word about the controversial Zieve’s civic resume, which includes last year trying to prevent a mosque from being built in the city and this year settling with the state on charges he discriminated against employees of his company, Electroimpact Inc.
“Based on Peter Zieve’s actions and behavior, we feel that he is unqualified and unsuited to serve on the City Council of Mukilteo,” said Paul Kramer, one of the steering committee members. “We will be working to get the word out to Mukilteo voters about who this man is and what he stands for.”
Riaz Khan, one of the leading voices for the mosque center, is on the committee along with Glen Pickus, Liza Patchen-Short, Vinaya Chepuri and Kimberlee Kramer. All live in Mukilteo.
Zieve could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.
Champion, 62, a staff scientist with Honeywell Inc. in Redmond, is seeking a second four-year term on the council.
He won the Aug. 1 primary with 54.2 percent of the vote followed by Zieve with 26.8 percent. Tina Over came in third with 18.8 percent and has since endorsed Champion.
Though Champion won in seemingly convincing fashion, he’s done little visible campaigning since the election. That’s made some folks nervous because the multimillionaire Zieve is conducting an aggressive campaign funded with $50,000 of his own money. That’s 10 times the sum Champion had put into his own campaign as of Tuesday.
“The numbers would indicate (Zieve’s) chances are slim for getting elected yet he has a lot of money. This is not a time for complacency,” said Kramer, who has helped put together community events partly in response to Zieve’s attempt to block the proposed mosque.
Mukilteo For All is an independent committee and under state law cannot coordinate with Champion. It plans to have a website, a Facebook page and will raise money for materials to distribute to voters, Kramer said. He did not say how much money they hoped to raise.
Tuesday’s announcement comes days after Zieve put out a campaign flier accusing Champion of a romantic relationship with Mayor Jennifer Gregerson and citing the mayor’s ex-husband as the source. That man is a Zieve employee.
Zieve, when contacted Monday about the flier, declined to comment.
This is not a new claim. Foes of the councilman and mayor spread it during the primary. At that time, Champion and Gregerson each denied the allegation to the The Daily Herald.
On Tuesday, Champion said he was unaware of Zieve’s brochure until asked about it by a Herald reporter.
“At first it makes me very angry. Then I think it’s sad because I’m up against somebody who is an irrational human being, who is using someone else’s sorrow to advance their political agenda,” he said, adding he’s been in a committed relationship with a woman for 26 years. “This is hurtful.”
Champion said the mailer “will change my thinking about what I need to do in the (campaign’s) last month. I’m focused on the issues. I wish Mr. Zieve would be focused on the issues.”
Gregerson and Jeff Wakeman, who married in 2014, filed for divorce in June and it was complete in September.
Wakeman, a mechanical engineer for Electroimpact, said in an email he was “incredibly hurt” by the dissolution and maintained that it occurred because of an affair between Gregerson and the councilman. Wakeman said he gave Zieve permission to attribute this claim to him in the brochure.
Gregerson, who is also up for re-election, denied the allegations again Tuesday.
“I’m sad that our marriage has ended and I know that (Jeff) is really hurting,” she said. “I’m not surprised that Mr. Zieve is trafficking in this type of negative campaigning. Mukilteo is better than that.”
Ballots will be mailed Oct. 19 for the Nov. 7 election.