Mukilteo mayor candidates Joe Marine and Jennifer Gregerson.

Mukilteo mayor candidates Joe Marine and Jennifer Gregerson.

Editorial: Gregerson for Mukilteo; Redmon for Snohomish

Mukilteo voters should return Gregerson as mayor. Redmon should be promoted from the council.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Mukilteo Mayor

The 2021 race for mayor of Mukilteo is a rematch of sorts and pits the current two-term mayor, Jennifer Gregerson, against a current city council member and a former two-term mayor, Joe Marine, whom Gregerson defeated in 2013.

Both Gregerson and Marine, during a joint interview with the editorial board pointed to what’s been an amicable campaign for the city’s top administrative post as well as a good working relationship between the mayor and Marine and the rest of the council in recent years.

Marine served on the council from 1998 to 2001, as mayor from 2006 to 2013, then returned to the council in 2019. He also served for a year in the state Legislature, representing the 21st District in 2001. Marine has lived in Mukilteo for 22 years and has been active on boards and organizations including Camp Fire, Rotary, Mukilteo YMCA, Maris Place for the Arts and the Chamber of Commerce.

Gregerson, a life-long city resident, served on the council from 2004 to 2013, then defeated Marine in 2013 for her first term, won reelection in 2017 and is seeking a third term. Gregerson earned a master’s degree in urban planning. She’s a board member of Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County and is a former Lighthouse Festival president.

While discussions between them are amicable, there are differences of opinion, particular regarding issues of housing affordability and the city’s budget and its tax base.

The city, under Gregerson’s leadership sought and won a state grant to complete a housing needs assessment, which led to the drafting of a housing action plan, adopted this summer by the council, following a year-long and sometimes contentious public process.

Gregerson backs the plan which calls for an update to the city’s comprehensive plan, expansion of housing options for the city’s seniors and better explanation of existing programs to city residents that can help them stay in their Mukilteo homes.

Considering the assessment’s findings, Marine said he doesn’t see many opportunities to add housing density, beyond some limited infill and wouldn’t support additional density in a city of about 21,000 that hasn’t added significantly to its population in the last 10 years.

Gregerson, however, does see more opportunities for growth, and believes Mukilteo needs to participate in providing those options as the same time as the city’s other communities, such as accessory dwelling units and townhouses.

On the city’s finances, Marine points to his record as mayor, which while it increased property taxes 6 percent over eight years, managed to win an upgrade in its bond rating to AAA, which helped keep construction costs low for the city’s Rose Hill Community Center.

While that bond rating has dipped back down, Gregerson said that’s less of an issue now as the city has no plans in coming years for projects that would require bonding. While the city didn’t increase its property tax as allowed during her first two years, it has used those increases since, but has built up reserves that had been depleted during Marine’s terms, she said.

Marine also pointed to what he called a high rate of turnover at city hall, specifically with its finance director, which has seen five different directors in the last seven years.

Gregerson said it took some time to find the right fit for some positions, but other resignations were for personal reasons. Mukilteo, she said, has “a great team in place, now.”

Marine points to success stories during his time as mayor, as does Gregerson. Comparing the records of the two candidates as mayor can offer legitimate considerations, but Gregerson’s more recent tenure as mayor favors a third term for her.

Notably, Gregerson has worked with her fellow mayors in Everett, Lynnwood and Edmonds to seek regional solutions to issues of housing, homelessness and drug addiction. At the same time, she’s shown purpose and determination in pushing for the housing needs assessment and the housing action plan that accepts Mukilteo’s regional responsibility to accept some of the growth that is coming to the county. At the same time, Gregerson hasn’t shied from the necessary discussions on what will need to follow, among the council and the city’s residents on housing issues.

Voters should return Gregerson to the mayor’s office to lead those and other discussions.

Snohomish Mayor

Along with the typical issues of budgets, taxes, housing and more that Snohomish County cities are addressing, the City of Snohomish and its mayor will also need to take on some fence-mending in the community.

While political division is not unique to the city of some 10,000 residents, Snohomish was and continues to attract attention following a Black Lives Matter rally on Snohomish’s First Street in May 2020 that attracted a counter-rally of armed protesters responding to a perceived threat from and alleged anti-fascist group that was later shown to be a prank. The encounter recently was featured in a documentary film made by two recent college graduates who grew up in Snohomish.

On the same afternoon as a virtual screening of the film, Snohomish Mayor John Kartak announced a United Snohomish rally last Saturday to “show support for Public Safety, Small Town Values, and the most wonderful community on earth,” but denied knowledge of the film. Following the May 2020 confrontation, some accused Kartak of welcoming the armed counter-protesters.

Kartak, who is completing the term he was elected to in 2017, faces a challenge from Linda Redmon, who was elected to the city council in 2017. Kartak, while mayor, ran for the state House in 2020, losing to Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek.

Kartak owns a window and construction business.

Kartak did not respond to repeated email requests to participate in a joint interview with Redmon by the editorial board.

Redmon, who is currently council president, has represented the council on the county health board and also serves on the Alliance for Housing Affordability and on the legislative priorities committee of the Association of Washington Cities. Redmon administers her husband’s clinical psychology practice and has a background as a health educator. She has served on the PTA at her children’s schools, the food bank, the Boys & Girls Club, Project Homeless Connect and with the city’s Hal Moe Pool committee prior to her time on the council.

Redmon said she decided to run for mayor after noting the increase in civic division in the community, which came to a head last year. As mayor, she said, she would work to open communication in the community and restore communication between the mayor and the council. A lack of communication between the mayor and council over the past year has blocked progress on issues, she said.

Among the issues she’d like to address, Redmon said she wants to focus on housing affordability. She wants the city to look at consideration of more housing options by reviewing the city’s zoning ordinance and looking at opportunities for flexibility, such as multi-family housing that would protect neighborhood character.

Redmon said she also would look to continue work started on the council to improve salmon spawning habitat for the Pilchuck River, qualify the city through the Tree City USA program and promote more green spaces in the city.

Redmon, benefiting from her residence in Snohomish, her leadership role on the council and efforts to learn the ropes of municipal governance, is qualified to lead the city and open up discussion that is necessary to mend rifts that have developed.

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