By The Herald Editorial Board
Marysville — with about 72,000 residents, Snohomish County’s second-largest city and among its fastest-growing — finds its residents living amid and its officials dealing with the impacts of that growth.
The city, with its partner Arlington, is celebrating the jobs that the Cascade Industrial Center is bringing to the region but also continues to address growth and its impacts to housing costs and supply, traffic, other infrastructure and social services that will continue as the CIC develops.
Those issues confront the seven-member city council, for which four positions face elections this year. While Michael Stevens is running unopposed for his Position 4 seat, two other incumbents face challengers on the general election ballot. Mark James is challenged by Ambrylee Gattshall for Position 2, and Tom King faces challenger Keven Gallagher for Position 3.
City Council, Position 1
In the Aug. 3 primary, Jeffrey Vaughn, first elected to an unexpired term in 2003 and reelected four times since, faces challenges from Daniel Brady and Cindy Gobel.
Vaughn previously served on the Marysville Fire District board, the city’s public works committee and its parks and recreation advisory board. With a bachelor’s degree in public health, Vaughn serves as executive director of a nonprofit traffic safety organization, owned and operated a small business and has worked in health and safety in aerospace and electric utility industries.
Gobel, who made an unsuccessful run for county auditor in 2020, worked in law enforcement for 11 years and for the last 27 years at the county and state level in auditing functions regarding voter registration, elections, licensing and recording and assisted in implementing the statewide VoteWA registration and records system. A long-time union member, Gobel has a bachelor’s degree in human services, a master’s in adult education and law degree.
Brady, making his first run for office, is an aerospace machinist and is enrolled in Everett Community College’s aerospace apprenticeship program. A fifth-generation county resident, Brady is a union activist and volunteers with a local wetland sanctuary and on other environmental issues.
All three candidates, in a recent joint interview with the editorial board, discussed issues of growth, infrastructure, city services and more. And all three, while well informed on those issues, expressed differing perspectives and opinions on those matters and the best course for city responses.
Brady, for example, said he seeks to provide a more progressive outlook and the viewpoint of a blue-collar union worker. He and Gobel shared the view that the city has fallen short in its preparations for growth. Gobel said that while more housing has been built in the city and surrounding region, it’s been built for those with higher incomes, leaving a need for housing for the homeless and survivors of domestic violence. Brady sees a lack of affordable housing that is driving up other housing values and increasing the tax burden for some.
In contrast, Vaughn said he came to the council with concerns that developers not drive the city’s decisions on growth, zoning and infrastructure, and believes that the current council has demonstrated that by reserving the area that became the CIC job center for light manufacturing rather than housing.
Vaughn acknowledges growth concerns remain, particularly for traffic congestion and wait times for trains at rail crossings, but preparations are ongoing — admittedly slowly — for vehicle overpasses at Grove Street and at 156th Street NE.
Vaughn also defends council decisions to not take allowed — if limited — increases in the city’s property tax rate, and says the city has done well to continue to offer its services with a smaller workforce than other cities in the county.
Neither Brady nor Gobel challenged Vaughn on the property tax, but Gobel said the city needs to do more to draw more business and tourism — and resulting tax revenue — through events and festivals, including a revitalized Strawberry Festival. Brady says the city needs to reconsider its moratorium on cannabis retail shops and the tax revenue it could provide to the city.
Gobel said she believes the city needs to work more closely with the Tulalip Tribes, which have been very supportive of the community, its schools and organizations.
Brady, recognizing the Marysville School District’s recent struggles with racial threats among students, said the city needs to offer its assistance to the school district in addressing an issue that isn’t limited to the schools.
Voters have three good choices for Position 1, well matched in their understanding of issues and in their commitment to the city and its residents, while offering varied experience and perspective.
Vaughn’s long tenure on the council isn’t easily dismissed, and he has shown a commitment and ability to follow through with goals to guide development and look out for taxpayers’ interests and lean yet effective government.
Brady would bring environmental concerns and understanding of issues faced by working families to council discussions.
While not a primary consideration, Gobel’s presence on the council would better balance perspectives and representation on a council that currently has only one woman member. What Gobel best provides, however, is a key balance of past experience and a fresh perspective on issues useful as the council confronts the above issues and more.