By The Herald Editorial Board
With more than 70,000 residents — Snohomish County’s second-largest city and among its fastest-growing — Marysville and its city council are confronted with challenges and opportunities related to its 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 increase as the CIC develops and the city grows.
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, three incumbents face challengers on the general election ballot. Jeffrey Vaughn is challenged by Cindy Gobel, who with Vaughn were the top two candidates out of August’s primary election. Mark James is challenged by Ambrylee Gattshall for Position 2, and Tom King faces challenger Keven Gallagher for Position 3.
Prior to the primary election, the editorial board endorsed Cindy Gobel for Position 1.
City Council, Position 2
Mark James, a U.S. Army veteran, local business owner and Marysville resident for 30 years, is running for a second term. He is challenged by Ambrylee Gattshall, a recent graduate of Everett Community College, who studied geology and American Sign Language and volunteers with the deaf community and the college’s Japanese language and cultural association.
In a joint interview with the editorial board, Gattshall said she has spent time talking with city residents and listening to concerns about housing affordability, homelessness and the city’s recovery following the covid-19 pandemic.
Regarding housing and homelessness, Gattshall said she’d like to see the city do more to connect those struggling with rent and mortgage payments with available resources. Often there is assistance available, but many aren’t aware of such programs or know how to apply for aid. James noted the work the city and the council are continuing to develop by adjusting zoning and building codes, in particular a change that allows accessory dwelling units (mother-in-law units) on single-family lots. James and others on council back the work of Housing Hope, which recently broke ground on a new 60-unit complex near Gissberg Twin Lakes.
Regarding traffic, especially at railroad crossings, James said relief is on the way, though it will require some patience. The new I-5 interchange at Highway 529 will break ground in 2022, and planning progresses for an over-crossing at Grove Street. The city also is working with Burlington Northern Sante Fe on “quiet zones” that would use signaled crossings to allow for trains to pass without a warning horn. Gattshall, regarding traffic and crossings, applauded the city’s continuing work to lobby for state and federal money for projects to reduce congestion at the city’s crossings. She said she hears lots of ideas, but — calling on her college studies — notes that the city’s geology on tidal flats limits some of the city’s affordable options.
Gattshall, if elected would provide greater diversity to the council, and she showed she understood the challenges the city faces, including a need to spruce up downtown and State Street. But James has worked well with the rest of the council and the mayor and helped lead a city that is using its growth to meet the city’s challenges while running a lean and efficient local government.
Marysville’s voters should return James to the council for a second term.
City Council, Position 3
Tom King, running for a second term on the council, is a lifelong Marysville resident, now retired after 16 years with the city as a traffic signal technician and electrical contractor before that. King previously served on the Marysville School Board and volunteers with the Marysville Food Bank. He is challenged by Kevin Gallagher, who has worked as local bank branch manager for 16 years, and has lived in Marysville for 19 years. Gallagher has volunteered through his bank and the Knights of Columbus.
Because of scheduling issues, both were interviewed separately by the editorial board.
Gallagher said his background in bank and finance, as well as a political science degree, would be of use to the council and service to the community. While Gallagher said he understood the concern for housing prices in the city and region, he said he wants the city to keep some controls on development, pointing to design standards used by Mill Creek and other cities that have helped make those communities attractive.
King, like James, noted the contributions of Housing Hope to affordable options but also wants the city to pursue a suitable shelter, similar to Everett’s “pallet shelter” project. One such project had been proposed by a Marysville church, but King said there were concerns about the proposed location. King said he believed a suitable location for such a project can be found in the city.
Marysville, in recent years, King said, has moved a number of projects forward for traffic, a public safety building, parks and trails to meet the city’s needs as it grows. Completion of that work has come down to time and available funding. City voters have supported additional revenue in the past, such as the transportation benefit area, which has allowed for street maintenance, sidewalks and ADA improvements.
Gallagher said he believed the city could be doing more to manage its parks and green spaces as well as to seek out grants that could help retail businesses improve their facades to make the downtown and retail areas more appealing to shoppers.
Gallagher, like Gattshall, knows his community and is running in a desire to serve it, but King has proved his worth on the council and has multiple ties throughout the city, including time on the city’s and the county’s parks boards, the city’s library board, eight years as a volunteer firefighter and even as grand marshal for the Merrysville holiday parade. His insight and experience also served the city during the switch to a regional fire district.
King’s record justifies a second term on the council.
The 2021 general election is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Ballots will be mailed to registered voters on Oct. 14, with the local voters guide mailed Oct. 13. Completed ballots must be dropped in an official ballot box or mailed and postmarked by Nov. 2.
Washington state residents eligible to vote can register up to the day of the election by going to VoteWa.gov.
More voter and election information is available from Snohomish County Elections at tinyurl.com/SnoCoVote.