Looking forward to 2013 while remembering years past

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Councilmember | Jan 09, 2013

The year 2013 is upon us, and despite the 13 – and how some will inevitably view the tone of this month’s column – there will be many opportunities for Mukilteo, if only city officials can do what’s best for Mukilteo.

This year is an election year. In November, Mukilteans will be voting for three council and the mayor positions.

Because I’m so popular among voters, and the only councilmember up for re-election who just can’t seem to “get along” with the mayor, already I know the mayor has selected an opponent for my position, as he did four years ago when I was re-elected.

In my efforts to continue bringing quality entertainment to the Mukilteo masses, I’ve decided to share a few examples of what happens, politically, when you don’t go along with the flow – even when the flow may take you over a cliff.

In anticipation of the same political strategy, I think it’s safe to say the mayor and two other councilmembers (who aren’t up for re-election) will work hard to get their candidate elected.

And while it’s not politically correct to share the opinion held by many but uttered by few, there is a common affiliation (not government-related) that the mayor, the two councilmembers, my previous political opponent as well as my future one share.

During the Boundary Review Board hearing when Mukilteo was considering annexation, the mayor and several councilmembers had saved seats up front. One of the seats saved was for my opponent.

The council president and myself (I was council vice president at the time) didn’t have seats saved for us and were left to fend for ourselves.

I’m actually OK with not having seats saved for me but when a council candidate is given special treatment over an elected councilmember – well, that’s entertaining.

This was also when the mayor, some staff members, city attorney AND a majority of councilmembers met at Ivar’s after the hearing. While technically I’m told it wasn’t a violation of the open public meetings act (the city attorney ensured the councilmembers were at “opposite ends of the table”) it was a violation of the public’s trust.

Not knowing about the “get together,” I had walked into Ivar’s, and upon seeing the gathering, immediately walked out.

During the same election cycle, the mayor and several councilmembers attended a meeting with Whidbey Island commuters in Clinton. As a member of the Community Transit Board, the mayor was able to get a CT van to take over to the meeting.

In the van was the mayor and the two councilmembers supporting my opponent, MY OPPONENT and another councilmember.

Myself and another councilmember chose to walk on the ferry and up the hill on the Clinton side to the meeting. The third councilmember in the van chose get out and walk up the hill with us.

I decided to share this now for two reasons. Before the official “silly season” is upon us, I thought this information might be helpful if there’s someone willing to run for my position who I can support and won’t be “assimilated into the Borg.”

Secondly, if I do decide to run for a third term, I think this is the type of thing that needs to be told at a time when it can’t (although it probably will) be written off as political rhetoric.

The now almost two-year-old Rosehill Community Center continues to be a sorry excuse for a community center. I’ve become convinced there won’t be a true balance for the community until Mukilteo officials change the way they handle the people’s business.

The popular weekend hours available for weddings will continue to exclude community use of the facility, weekend rentals for weddings will continue to be offered at below market rates, and an actual community room shared with the Mukilteo Seniors will never be.

The “balance” between community use and rentals – approved by the council – is effectively being circumvented by city staff’s ability to “take over” events simply by having event organizers work with them directly.

Although that’s actually not a bad idea, having both processes allows some groups preferential treatment over others and actually enables the “divide and conquer” mentality by some officials.

A couple of weeks ago, a previous member of Friends of the Community Center shared a survey the group did in 2002 regarding the recreational components residents wanted in their community center.

While a small majority wanted a new community center (which they got), a whopping 75 percent wanted a gym in the community center. Similarly, having tennis courts and a ball field on community center grounds were preferred by a margin of 2 to 1.

However, that’s not what the residents got, and considering the direction we’re currently headed, I’m sorry to say it’s not going to happen unless something changes.

Moving on to more recent events, our “experienced” mayor and council are still doing things they aren’t supposed to be doing.

After the special meeting we approved appealing the FAA decision regarding commercial flights at Paine Field, four councilmembers stayed to discuss something with a member of the press.

They’re not supposed to do that because four councilmembers represent a quorum and they could form opinions amongst themselves as a result of the discussion that has circumvented the public process.

Unfortunately, this type of thing still happens in Mukilteo. It shouldn’t.

So, although my current view of Mukilteo government from the inside may be cynical, it is a view that has been created after seven years as a councilmember.

I believe Mukilteo residents deserve better than what they’re getting. I’m hopeful in 2013 the council will do a better job of listening to the residents and each other. Mukilteo politics, however, has me thinking otherwise.

The preceding feature is published the second Wednesday of each month for The Beacon and is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.

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