SNOHOMISH — The man and woman battling over who will be the next mayor of Snohomish were separated by just 23 votes Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, in Mukilteo, an incumbent on the City Council was trouncing his controversial challenger.
Former Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak was trailing newcomer John Kartak, 49.2 percent to 50.6 percent.
The candidates couldn’t be more different.
Kartak, 52, pressed voters last year to change how the city operates, creating a new strong mayor position. Guzak, 78, tried to preserve the structure she believed was working well.
An elected mayor is expected to be sworn in as soon as the votes are certified. The position pays $18,000 a year.
Guzak was elected to the City Council in 2008 and appointed as mayor two years later. She served for seven years before stepping down in February and resumed her role as a councilwoman.
As mayor, her top priority in the short term would be helping Snohomish transition to a strong-mayor form of government. Guzak hopes to develop a plan for staff to work together under the new system.
Marijuana was a frequently discussed topic during the campaign season. The production, processing and sale of the drug in town was barred in 2014. An advisory measure on the November ballot asked voters whether they would like to lift that ban. Kartak, a semi-retired contractor, said he would use his mayoral veto power to stop stores from opening in Snohomish.
The advisory measure was failing with 70.3 percent.
If Guzak is elected as mayor, her seat on council would be up for grabs. That would be in addition to the five council seats that were up for election this month. The government body has seven members total.
Incumbent Jason Sanders was leading with 70.4 percent against Daryl Ferguson. Tom Merrill had 52 percent of the votes in his race against R.C. “Swede” Johnson. Bob Dvorak was trailing Linda Redmon, 48.2 percent to 51.5 percent.
Larry Countryman was leading by 54.8 percent in a race against Eric Reyes. Lisa Caldwell was behind Steve Dana with 44.3 percent.
In Mukilteo, aerospace executive Peter Zieve was trailing in his race against incumbent City Council President Bob Champion.
Champion, who is seeking a second term, led Zieve with 65.2percent.
The incumbent said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the margin.
“I’m very humbled that the citizens put their confidence in me,” he said. “We’re going to work together and we’re going to accomplish great things.”
Zieve, the founder of Mukilteo’s Electroimpact Inc., is a first-time candidate and launched his campaign with $50,000 of his own money.
He is a controversial figure. He drew criticism for opposing efforts to build a mosque in the city. This year he garnered attention when he settled with the state after the Attorney General’s Office accused him of discriminating against his employees.
Residents opposing Zieve formed a campaign against him. The Mukilteo for All political committee had spent nearly $12,000 on ads and mailers entering the campaign’s final weekend.
“This election was about Mukilteo voters casting their ballots against those who would seek to divide us based on perceived differences,” said Mukilteo For All spokesman Paul Kramer in a prepared statement. “Our city is a stronger place when we all stand together and that’s why the results of this election are so important.”
In the mayor’s race, Mayor Jennifer Gregerson appears headed to a second term. She had 53.7 percent to lead challenger Dan Matthews, a technical consultant for Boeing.
In the race for City Council Position 1, Anna Rohrbough is ahead of James Yoo, 57.8 percent to 41.9 percent. The winner will replace Ted Wheeler, who opted not to seek re-election.
In the race for City Council Position 3, Sarah Kneller leads Tony Markey 53.3 percent to 46.4 percent. The winner will succeed Randy Lord, who decided not to seek re-election.
And voters are passing an increase in the retail sales tax to pay for road, sidewalk, trail and bike-way improvements.
Proposition 1 was passing by a margin of 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent. The measure, if passed, would increase the sales tax by one-tenth of 1 percent. It would expire after 10 years.
Around the county
In Mountlake Terrace, City Councilwoman Kyoko Matsumoto Wright was leading Councilman Seaun Richards in a rare match-up of two sitting councilmembers.
Wright, who is seeking a third term, had 57.9 percent after the first night of ballot counting.
Richards said he ran against Wright in an effort to get “new blood” on the council. If he wins, he’ll get a new four-year term and someone would be appointed to the seat he now holds. If he loses, he continues to serve as he has two years left in his term.
Meanwhile, a controversial fire commissioner running for re-election with Snohomish County Fire District 1 was trailing in a race that was too close to call on election night. The department has since merged into the new South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue.
David Chan, 66, was caught joking in March with another commissioner about whether it would be cheaper to hire paramedics from Mexico. He later apologized.
The firefighters union recently spent more than $10,000 on mailers that urged voters to oust the two-term incumbent.
Michael Ellis, 28, had 103 more votes than Chan, leading with 50.3 percent to Chan’s 49.3 percent.
Chan, an accountant, highlighted his experience on the fire board. He hopes to prepare the district for population growth and technology changes.
Ellis, a Mountlake Terrace police officer, would focus on recruitment and training. He believes there is more than can be done to address firefighters’ increasing workload.
Updated ballot counts are likely to be released around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins @heraldnet.com.
City of Mukilteo
City Council Position 1
City Council Position 2
City Council Position 3
|Sarah L. Kneller||1,914||53.29%|
Transportation Benefit District
Proposition 1 (sales and use tax for improvements)
City of Snohomish
|John T. Kartak||834||50.61%|
|Karen W. Guzak||811||49.21%|
City Council Position 3
City Council Position 4
|R.C. (Swede) Johnson||737||47.67%|
City Council Position 5
City Council Position 6
City Council Position 7
Advisory Proposition 1
Allow marijuana-related businesses
Fire District 1
Commissioner Position 3
|David F. Chan||4,798||49.29%|