MUKILTEO — Council meetings rarely get boring in this town, and that’s not likely to change regardless of who wins this election.
Candidates for three open seats bring a mixed bag of agendas and backgrounds.
Two served on council in the past. One was appointed to a current seat.
Two never ran for office before. One ran for council two times and lost.
The bedroom community of about 22,000 people sits between Everett’s Paine Field and the Mukilteo ferry terminal. There is little land available for new development. Use of that space and the Housing Action Plan are hot-button issues.
Louis Harris, the city’s first Black council member, is in a matchup with repeat candidate Peter Zieve.
Harris, a public benefits specialist for the state, was appointed in 2020 to the seat vacated by Anna Rohrbough when she moved out of state.
Harris and another council member started monthly Coffee with Council chats on Saturday afternoons to engage with residents. The casual meetings have been held by Zoom due to the pandemic.
He said priorities include public safety, growth and the waterfront.
As a councilmember, “I’ve brought Mukilteo Lane as an issue to council,” Harris said, “and worked with the Tulalip Tribes to build a stronger relationship with them in the hopes we can have a stronger partnership between our two governments.”
He wants Mukilteo to be “business friendly” where “residents, businesses and the Chamber of Commerce as a community create a vision and plan for our economy going forward.”
Citizen involvement is key.
“I would want us to have a volunteer program for parks and trail maintenance, especially Japanese Gulch trail and Tails and Trails Dog Park,” he said. “And that we continue to have fun, engaging community programs and events both hosted by the city or supported through the lodging tax and community grant programs.”
He supports giving the police department training and equipment, and adding more sidewalks and crosswalks where needed.
As for housing: “Mukilteo is primarily a single-family home community and it is clear that is what we want to keep it to be,” Harris said. “So ensuring our zoning doesn’t negatively impact that culture, but also at the same time ensuring we are staying up with the times and not being negatively impacted by regional growth.”
Zieve, owner of Electroimpact aerospace company, was unsuccessful in his last two runs for council.
“I’m much smarter now than I was two and four years ago,” Zieve said.
In 2016, he mounted an anonymous postcard campaign to oppose plans for a mosque, and later apologized. Four years later, he started the group Preserve Mukilteo and led a direct mail campaign that claims low-income housing “could bring in crime and drugs.”
Zieve’s slogan is “Keep Mukilteo a Small Town.” It’s on his black-and-white signs all over town.
“That’s the horse I’m riding,” Zieve said.
“I go out and look and see some pretty horrible things going on, like The Vantage Apartments,” he said, referring to the complex on Mukilteo Speedway with a Lynnwood mailing address.
“The main thing is to keep Mukilteo the way it is and prevent high-density housing like we have on our border … high-density low-income housing, subsidized housing,” Zieve added. “I don’t want it in Mukilteo. That’s my thing. I think Mukilteo is fine the way it is. It doesn’t need to be remodeled, reinvented or changed in any way.”
He opposes changes in zoning.
“Our zoning, if anything, needs to be more rigidly adhered to,” Zieve said. “We have some areas where the streets are parked up. Our zoning laws are great. We have to make sure they are 100 percent followed.”
For Position 2, Kevin Stoltz, a former two-term councilman, faces first-time candidate Tom Jordal.
“My business is at a point where I have enough free time to commit to being on City Council,” said Jordal, president of Skyline Communications, an Everett communications and security firm.
Jordal lists development, the waterfront and public safety as key issues.
“We need good support of our police and fire department,” he said.
The waterfront should be a collaborative effort with other stakeholders, he said. He favors a combination of park space, commercial businesses and “something in place to honor the history of the Salish.”
Remaining development should be under local control, he said.
”We don’t want too high-density housing put in places where it is going to cause traffic and infrastructure problems for the city,” Jordal said. “We want to make sure the City Council and the residents drive what our comprehensive plan looks for housing, and that we don’t allow outside influences to drive us to change certain zoning to allow higher density housing in areas where it’s not best for us.”
He mentioned the land between Staybridge Suites and Walgreens.
“Most of the community think it needs to have a fair amount of commercial businesses so it becomes a town center area, of sorts, and not built out with a lot of apartments,” he said.
Stoltz, a network systems engineer, served on the Mukilteo council from 2006 to 2013.
“We know how to get a lot of stuff done. We were successful in the past despite a lot of roadblocks,” Stoltz said. “The council has a lot more they could be doing. I see a lot of the stuff being blamed on the mayor, but from my perspective the council doesn’t know what their job is.”
He said he has made a “huge” to-do list.
“We always said, ‘What can we do to get a park and ride in Mukilteo?’” Stoltz said. “I started that process and am frustrated with what happened.”
Airplane noise is another concern.
“I will ask the council to pursue a voluntary nighttime curfew to discourage scheduled passenger and cargo flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.,” he said. “The council has the ability to do resolutions and move stuff like this forward.”
As with Jordal, he wants to collaborate with other entities on a waterfront plan.
As for housing: “I am opposed to increasing density in residential neighborhoods,” Stoltz said. “I’m not against affordable housing, but I am against it in residential neighborhoods.”
Two-time former councilmember Steve Schmalz faces first-time candidate Alex Crocco for Position 3.
“I missed helping people and helping our residents,” said Schmalz, a regional sales manager at Voeller and Associates. “I think we have issues we need to deal with.”
His priorities include cooperation, traffic calming and fiscal responsibility.
“This whole divide in the city is with this HAP issue,” Schmalz said. “We need to bring our folks back together and work on things that bring us together instead of dividing us.”
The housing plan “took up a lot of time with the council and they should have been concentrating on other things,” Schmalz said.
“We don’t have the room for high-density housing,” he added. “We are pretty much built out. We should have been spending our time working on issues important to residents, such as burglaries in vehicles and homes, traffic calming, pedestrian safety and stuff going on at the waterfront.”
Strides made while he was on council, from 2012 to 2019: “We had a parking issue down at Lighthouse Park for our residents and we solved that by going to a parking pass,” he said. “Also, putting in speed humps in various neighborhoods to help public safety. Balancing seven straight budgets.”
Crocco, a production and operations management leader, lists schools, safety and seniors among priorities.
“The school system is what drew many people to Mukilteo,” Crocco said. “The first thing I am going to do is reach out to the school board.”
Zoning decisions and school capacity “go hand in hand,” he said.
“We outgrew Kamiak High School shortly after it was built, which now has 16 portables there. When we look at zoning and planning and growth we need to be taking into account the school system.”
He has two children at Kamiak.
“Another thing is sidewalks that will connect kids with their local elementary schools,” Crocco said. “Sidewalks are shorthand for pedestrian safety.”
In the primary election, only seven votes separated Crocco from Carolyn “Dode” Carlson to advance for a chance at this Position 3 seat. Carlson volunteers on his campaign.
“We weren’t competitors as much as we were two candidates for the same job,” Crocco said. “Dode has given me a lot to think about what seniors want.”