Ryan shouldn’t get the boot

Under Mill Creek’s council-manager form of government, the City Council hires a city manager, who serves as the city’s CEO. It also selects a mayor from its own ranks — someone to chair council meetings and serve as the city’s ceremonial representative.

Terry Ryan, who has been the council’s choice for mayor in all but two years of the past decade, is being challenged in this year’s election by a fellow council member. Mary Kay Voss is giving up her Position 4 seat in a bid to oust Ryan, saying he has used his position as mayor to overstep his authority, shutting out council members who disagree with him and running meetings with an overbearing attitude.

Neutral observers confirm that Ryan can appear controlling. They also confirm that he has represented the city effectively on regional issues.

This isn’t an election for mayor of Mill Creek; it’s a race for a City Council seat. If a majority of the council believes Ryan is a liability as mayor, they can elect someone else to the post. Voss hasn’t made a convincing case for removing Ryan from the council, where he has served capably since 1995. We endorse him for another term.

It’s too bad that re-electing Ryan means losing Voss, who is also an asset to the city. On most issues, the two don’t see things much differently. Both value the city’s quality of life and building design standards, and favor growing at a deliberate pace, only where it makes financial and aesthetic sense.

The same holds for the candidates for Position 3, which is being vacated by Rosemary Bennetts. We recommend Kathy Nielsen, who served two terms on the council in the 1990s, over Vincent Cavaleri, an earnest first-time candidate.

Nielsen built a reputation as a consensus builder in her previous stint on the council, skills that would be useful again. She has remained active in the city, serving on the Civil Service Commission and on a citizen committee that worked to secure a new senior center. The latter, which was the source of some controversy, gave Nielsen a good taste of the city’s current political climate.

Cavaleri, a custody officer for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and a union officer, is running because “public service is everyone’s responsibility.” He can’t match Nielsen’s political experience and savvy, but if he doesn’t win, we hope he’ll look for other opportunities to gain government experience.

In the race for Voss’ Position 4 seat, Bart (Tim) Masterson gets our nod. He’s worked as president of Oh Boy! Oberto, and volunteered for a number of Mill Creek boards and causes. He would bring a tough, analytical approach to issues, and his broad business background would be an asset. He admits his manner can be abrupt, but that he’ll work hard to maintain constructive relationships on the council.

Masterson’s opponent, Ken Bender, didn’t respond to requests to be interviewed by the editorial board.

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