Editorial: Retain Gregerson as Mukilteo’s mayor

Both candidates offer impressive resumes, but Gregerson showed leadership and compassion as mayor.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Mukilteo is moving on and moving ahead with issues and projects that have taken years to address, among them a new Washington State Ferry terminal, waterfront development and preparations for regular commercial air service at Snohomish County’s Paine Field.

Interest in Mukilteo’s governance attracted enough candidates for its three city council races that the primary election was necessary to determine the top two candidates for the Nov. 7 general election.

Likewise, incumbent mayor Jennifer Gregerson, elected to her first term in 2013, faces challenger Dan Matthews for the opportunity to lead the city of about 21,500 residents.

Prior to the primary, The Herald Editorial Board endorsed city council candidates, and reaffirms the following recommendations.

Position 1: Anna Rohrbough, who runs a leadership coaching and training business, has prepared herself for a council seat through her service on the city’s long-range financial planning committee and her participation with Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s ambassadors committee.

Position 2: Incumbent council member Bob Champion, an aerospace scientist and executive at Honeywell, is completing his first term on the council and has served as council president for three years of his term. Champion brings needed financial knowledge to the council and was among the first among city officials to seek to limit the impacts of commercial service at Paine Field, rather than continue to fight the terminal.

Position 3: Tony Markey, a director of health care clinics and active with the Washington Army National Guard, has budget management and operations experience and also serves on the city’s financial planning panel and has previously served on the Mukilteo School District’s budget committee.

Mayor: Neither candidate is lacking in experience or preparation for the mayor’s office.

Dan Matthews has previously served on the Shoreline School Board as well as the county’s charter review committee in 2016. He is employed by Boeing, working as a 747 consultant and pilot instructor and previously worked in a similar position for Northwest Airlines. Matthews is a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Air Force, having served during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. He holds a master’s in public administration.

He has lived in the city for 17 years.

His community service includes work with the Technical Skills Career Task Force, Housing Hope, Domestic Violence Services, Nature Conservancy and veterans organizations.

Among his strengths, Matthews demonstrated detailed knowledge of a range of practices that airlines will be able employ to reduce noise impacts for Paine Field neighbors, information that would be useful as the city continues to work with the two airlines — Alaska and United — that will offer commercial service at Paine Field.

Matthews said he wants to increase public participation in city issues. He has made a four-year commitment to no new taxes and a balanced budget, and is critical that the current administration, while it hasn’t raised taxes, has taken in new revenue from parking fees and an increase in the city’s stormwater utility fees.

Matthews said he would seek to add police to serve on patrols and at schools and listed domestic violence, the opioid crisis and homelessness as priorities.

As impressive a resume as Matthews offers, Gregerson has shown her ability to lead the city during a time of transition and even tragedy.

Prior to her election as mayor, Gregerson, who owns a small business, served on the city council from 2004-2013. She also served on the county’s charter review committee. She holds a masters in urban planning. She currently serves on the boards for the Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County and Community Transit.

Gregerson said she’s kept her commitment to give residents a break from tax increases and has worked to cut the city’s operational costs by trimming 10 percent from the mayor’s office in her first year.

While Matthews has background on airline noise-abatement, Gregerson has already demonstrated an ability to work cooperatively with the airlines at Paine Field to begin work to address the impacts from commercial flights.

Her work regionally has helped the city secure state financing for transportation projects, including the city’s Harbor Reach Corridor, and she’s built a collaborative relationship with the state ferry agency as the work on the new terminal begins.

The city faced a rocky patch with its finances and accounting, following state auditor’s reports for 2014 and 2015. Gregerson and the city worked with the state to resolve the deficiencies and have filled city staff vacancies that contributed to delays in completing reports to the state.

Gregerson was quick to tell the board she will seek a regional approach to the opioid crisis that all cities in the county are facing. Gregerson, additionally, was the only candidate interviewed by the editorial board who specifically mentioned the need to support the work of the Snohomish Health District to address the opioid crisis and other public health concerns. Mukilteo, she noted, responded to a health district funding request made last year, finding the money in this year’s budget to provide 50 cents per capita to the district. Gregerson said that for the 2018 budget she has requested the city provide the full $1 per capita request for health district funding.

The district needs greater support, but the funding provided by Mukilteo, other cities and the county, shows support for its work.

Gregerson also merits admiration for the poise and compassion she displayed following the fatal shooting of three Kamiak High School graduates at a Mukilteo party in July 2016. A Kamiak grad herself, Gregerson asked for “a little grace and a little space,” for the victims’ families, fellow students and the community in the face of a crush of media attention after the shooting.

Mukilteo’s voters can confidently return Gregerson to office for a second term.

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