New mayor, council welcoming public input | Letter

Mar 12, 2014

Editor, The Beacon:

Although Mukilteo's new administration led by Mayor Jennifer Gregerson is just over two months old, the new level of cooperation and collaboration with others is a welcome transformation of Mukilteo government. Along with Mayor Gregerson, I appreciate the efforts and professionalism of acting city administrator Rex Caldwell, planning director Patricia Love and public works director Rob McGaughey. Together they have created a very new feel at city hall where anyone can feel welcome to ask questions, raise concerns and even offer constructive criticism without having to worry what the backlash will be.

Both Mayor Gregerson and Councilmember Schmalz are working to form a Waterfront committee to help address the many changes that have occurred and will be occurring at the north end of Mukilteo. Already, after hearing the concerns of many of us regarding the conditions on the permit being issued to WSF (Washington State Ferries), not only were city officials willing to sit down and listen to residents, they also collaborated and added some conditions to address the issues raised, resulting in a better project for everyone. I also appreciate the efforts of Terry Preshaw for continuing the battle to make the waterfront development something that will benefit Mukilteo.

And speaking of Terry, I'm disappointed that Terry didn't even make the first cut of the top six candidates for the open council position after Mukilteo voters strongly supported her in a council race that was so close, it automatically triggered a recount. Only two council members put Terry in their top six, the other four were just being petty.

Sometimes, city officials take actions that make things worse. Case in point: The 2014 budget fully funded the extended hours the community center was open to the public initially implemented at the end of June 2013. After only two months into the New Year, a staff proposal came forward to reduce the hours to "coincide with community use." Fortunately, Councilmember Schmalz led a discussion that resulted in no reduction in the hours. Unfortunately, the hours on Sundays were changed so the community center closes to the public at 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. A public records request revealed information presented to the council was a highly subjective interpretation of a faulty data acquisition process.

It took 2-1/2 years to get city officials to agree to have the community center open to the public on Sundays and to extend the hours on Friday and Saturdays past 5 p.m. Contrary to what some would have you believe, it is possible in the current budget as are other improvements such as a combined full time Seniors/community meeting room.

I'm looking forward to the next meeting with Mayor Gregerson where some of us can share our ideas and perspective on how we can improve how the community center can be even better for our community. And even if we don't agree in the end, I know our efforts won't be undermined. That in itself is a huge relief.

Kevin Stoltz

Recently retired City Councilmember

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