Q&A: Mukilteo council candidates talk city issues (Part 1 of 3)

Oct 09, 2013

As in past election seasons, The Beacon asked the City Council candidates to answer a questionnaire that focuses on some of the city’s most important issues.

Since there are two candidates for each of the three council seats up for election this November, we’ll run a Q&A series, one position a week for three weeks.

To be fair, all of the candidates were sent the questions at the same time and had the same deadline for answers. Numbers were drawn out of a hat to determine the order they will run.

Incumbent Richard Emery and challenger Bob Champion, running for Position 2, are first in the series; followed by candidates Ted Wheeler and Terry Preshaw, running for Position 1 (Oct. 16); and lastly incumbent Randy Lord and challenger Fred Taylor, running for Position 3 (Oct. 23).

Ballots are scheduled to be mailed on Oct. 17.

Our four questions are listed below, followed by the candidates’ answers.

1. Does Mukilteo need a full-time mayor and a full-time city administrator? Why or why not?

2. Does the Mukilteo Multimodal Project and current redevelopment plans for the waterfront benefit Mukilteo? Why or why not?

3. Parking in Old Town and at Lighthouse Park is an issue. How would you fix it?

Closing comments. (You pick the topic.)

-Ed.

Richard Emery

Full-time mayor

I believe for the next several years our city will be best served by a full-time mayor, available to represent and advocate for Mukilteo's interests on the county and state level, while an administrator manages the city.

Some of the issues facing Mukilteo for the next several years include the new ferry terminal and multi-modal transportation hub, waterfront development, Paine Field passenger service, retaining and expanding aerospace enterprises, the approaching end of developable land in Mukilteo, annexation, completion of Lighthouse Park and potential consolidation of fire services.

The time to decide if the city is overstaffed would be when Mukilteo is no longer in the middle of regional issues and projects.

Waterfront redevelopment

Mostly yes.

A significant benefit will be removing ferry traffic from the SR-525/Front Street intersection, vastly improving pedestrian safety and waterfront access.

Citizens can get to the beach area and Edgewater Park, and will gain trails and paths from Lighthouse Park through to Japanese Gulch.

Japanese Gulch Stream can be daylighted at the beach.

There will be pedestrian access to Lighthouse Park under SR-525.

Commuter parking will move, freeing up well over 140 spaces for other use.

The vehicle holding area will move off the Speedway.

It will be possible to create significant gaps in the off loading ferry traffic, creating better on and off access along SR-525.

The project location will bolster efforts to reduce the number of vehicles using the ferry, reducing vehicular traffic through Mukilteo.

The Sound Transit garage will accommodate the parking needs of all current waterfront users and others.

The expanded NOAA facility will become a valuable addition to Mukilteo.

Ivar's will remain at its present location.

The drawbacks:

A significant part of the Tank Farm becomes parking, roads and buildings.

The Art Building will be torn down, a major loss.

The Mukilteo pads are not next to each other, limiting options for use.

Lighthouse Park parking

This has been a particularly vexing problem. I believe the multimodal ferry development project will solve much of the problem. The Sound Transit garage will allow moving commuters out of the waterfront and Old Town areas, freeing these spots up for others to use.

Until that is built, a temporary solution might be a system that requires non-residents to pay to park while allowing citizens to park free with a sticker or card. Such a plan needs to be developed without charging residents for the sticker or card.

It is expected that charging non-residents would discourage many from coming to the waterfront area.

Phase 4 of the Lighthouse Park development includes another parking structure behind Diamond Knot. This would provide plenty of space for park and waterfront users, as well as allow the park itself to become mostly grass.

Closing comments

It has been exciting and engaging to be able to address issues like these over the past six years and to feel I have been able to be of service to the city and its residents.

I am very grateful I have been given this opportunity by the voters, and hope I will be able to continue on the council for the next four years.

Bob Champion

Full-time mayor

The city has wrestled with this question on multiple occasions in the past, voted on propositions and determined that a strong mayor/council government is the best organizational structure for Mukilteo.

We live in an increasingly complex world. I view the fact that the mayor-council organizational structure defines a single chain of command with a clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities as a benefit to Mukilteo.

I recognize the need within this structure to have an independent City Council and a mayor with the interpersonal skills required to deal effectively with our city, our neighboring cities, Snohomish County, Washington state and our elected federal officials.

I further recognize the need for strong city management, providing direction and support to the employees executing the day-to-day activities of the city.

As long as there is respect, communication, trust and transparency with the City Council, I believe these two distinct job descriptions require a full-time mayor and a full-time administrator.

Waterfront redevelopment

Yes, the Mukilteo Multimodal Project has distinct livability and quality of life benefits for Mukilteo.

Safety – in terms of reduced traffic congestion, pedestrian and bicycle access to Lighthouse Park, and the reduction of toxins from the removal of the old pier and Tank Farm creosote-treated timber piles – will be greatly improved by the ferry terminal redevelopment plan.

Further, it is estimated that more than 1,600 jobs will be created by this project, with benefits being realized by our local businesses.

Looking forward, Mukilteo must continue to work and collaborate with our neighbors, the Port of Everett and city of Everett, to develop and provide access to Edgewater Beach.

Lighthouse Park parking

Parking is an issue that we have struggled with for a long time. With the upcoming transfer of the Tank Farm, Mukilteo must work with our MMFT partners to secure funding and increase the number of parking spaces once the Tank Farm is transferred.

It is also envisioned that a park-and-ride will be constructed near Bernie Webber Drive, in the hope that the park-and-ride will further reduce the parking issues.

Once the projects are completed, an assessment and determination of the impact on parking availability will need to be made.

Closing comments

Beyond these issues, Mukilteo faces a number of challenges and opportunities. We need to continue to demonstrate support for Boeing, the aerospace manufacturing sector, and we must support and revitalize downtown business opportunities.

Further, beginning commercial operations and services at Paine Field will have a direct impact on our quality of life.

With more than 33 years in aviation design, manufacturing and certification, and a wide and diverse business background, I am uniquely qualified to serve as your councilmember and help address these concerns.

I have had the great fortune to work with some of the most influential people in commercial aviation. My knowledge and experience will help all parties work together and apply common sense solutions to resolve these issues.

As your councilmember, I will ensure that we have clearly stated objectives; sound execution plans, and that we are fiscally responsible. I will always couple these plans with a strong respect for the needs of the citizens and the needs of the city.

My strengths are arbitration, consensus building and team building.

I am running for council because I believe my experience analyzing the facts, determining and developing action plans, and problem-solving skills will benefit the citizens of Mukilteo.

I know that by working together, we will achieve great results.

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