Q&A: Mukilteo council candidates talk city issues (Part 3 of 3)
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 Randy Lord and challenger Fred Taylor, running for Position 3, are third and last in the series.
If you missed last week’s Q&A between candidates Ted Wheeler and Terry Preshaw, or the first Q&A between Incumbent Richard Emery and challenger Bob Champion, you can find them online at www.mukilteobeacon.com.
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?
4. Closing comments. (You pick the topic.)
I believe we need both a full-time mayor and full-time city administrator. Mukilteo is a small town with a surprising number of large town, regional issues. This requires a strong voice throughout the county.
Currently, the mayor represents the city in discussions inside and outside the county, serving our interests with the Tank Farm transfer, ferry, trains, Community Transit, Paine Field, Boeing and community development, to name a few.
Simultaneously, the administrator supports the smooth operations of the city staff, providing the high quality services our citizens and businesses have grown to expect.
Having a full-time salary for the mayor allows him or her to concentrate on serving the city full time, instead of a part-time role.
That increased effort has served the city well, increasing Mukilteo's voice and reputation throughout the region.
This is a tough question. While it benefits Mukilteo by creating name recognition for our city throughout the region and provides commuter options for our residents, I believe it benefits external commuters much more, at the expense of Mukilteo's access to the waterfront and beach.
Unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done, since the Multimodal Project and many of the waterfront development plans (NOAA facility, ferry terminal, future parking garage, and walkway to the Sound Transit train station) are considered essential public facilities, which means they will be implemented to serve the needs of the region, due to its unique location.
By zoning, providing development requirements, and providing development recommendations, Mukilteo can shape these future developments to maximize the benefits to Mukilteo citizens (or viewed differently, minimize the impact).
We have height requirements, identified walking and access requirements, and well as identified opportunities to daylight Japanese Gulch as it reaches the Sound.
All the agencies know of our interests, and are working hard to be good neighbors to Mukilteo.
Based on this early dialogue, we know they are working to implement a pedestrian promenade, access to Edgewater Park, open space and day-lighting Japanese Gulch stream.
Lighthouse Park parking
There are a lot of great reasons for people to come down to our waterfront. Unfortunately, there is currently not enough parking for all of them.
With the Tank Farm transfer about to be completed, Mukilteo will enter negotiations for temporary parking (at some of the tank sites not affected by the ferry and NOAA construction) until the parking garage is developed.
Ideally, we can move some of the long-term commuter parking from behind Diamond Knot to the Tank Farm, freeing up additional parking for visitors to Lighthouse Park.
Additionally, we will investigate an alternate location for the boat launch, east of the future ferry location (out of the wind and currents of the existing location), potentially moving the boat parking, once again, increasing the park user parking opportunities.
I have supported placing a park-and-ride lot further up the Speedway, which will encourage ferry commuters from the island to park further up the hill.
My wife and I have been Mukilteo residents for 28 years. We raised our two children through Mukilteo schools (Columbia, Harbour Pointe and Kamiak).
I’ve coached youth sports, chaperoned school band trips, and volunteered with both the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival and Parks and Arts Commission.
This, and my City Council experience, has helped me understand the needs and interests of Mukilteo citizens.
I also serve at a regional level; on both the Regional Fire Authority Investigation Board and the Snohomish County Conservation Futures Board.
The Futures Board has allowed me to work regionally to set aside land for public use.
In fact, we just completed evaluations of project proposals from organizations throughout Snohomish County, recommending allocations of $25 million for park property for critical park purchase requests, including our Japanese Gulch.
My engineering and project management background at Boeing has served me well on the council, providing an objective, consensus-building approach, resulting in collaborative decisions, providing the best solutions for Mukilteo.
I lead through listening and collaboration – my objective voice has led other councilmembers to elect me their council president five times.
I hope to earn your support once more – together we can work to keep Mukilteo moving forward.
It really depends upon the person and the size of the job. This is a small city with some big challenges.
The ideal full-time mayor would be a widely experienced businessperson who is able to put the management of the city ahead of the mayor’s political duties.
Such a person would be wise to have a reliable assistant manager to help with the details of city management.
A full-time city administrator and a full-time paid mayor who doesn’t have a regular hand in day-to-day operations is a different matter.
Such an arrangement would be typically considered to be desirable in a large city, where there are many separate constituencies to please and lots of consensus-building necessary.
Mukilteo does not really meet that scenario. However, we do have the problem of being batted around by the federal government, the state government, the railroad, the Port, Sound Transit, etc.
Certainly, someone must devote a lot of time to fielding all these demands being made on our small town by outsiders.
In our case, it might be advisable to add to the mayor’s political duties those which have been recently assigned to paid lobbyists – a good measure of a mayor’s political worth.
I am not at all convinced at this time that they do. We are at the mercy of every federal, state, railroad, and political interest for miles in every direction.
There is a lot of concern that the waterfront amenities that Mukilteo residents have awaited for so many years will be denied them, and instead there will be a small strip of sand upon which one can walk on the way past the condos, fancy cafés, and premium parking that could take precedence over access and usability.
The current ferry holding area is private property, held by business interests with a lot to gain under certain circumstances. Things might develop that forever alter the nature and character of the waterfront, at the expense of long-time residents and businesses, that will benefit only these interests and, again, leave the citizens of Mukilteo with much less than they deserve for finally getting back control of THEIR waterfront.
I plan to work with contacts at the Port of Everett to stay advised of the progress of these plans. Since the funding has not yet been approved, we could still be years away from these changes and improvements.
Lighthouse Park parking
Parking at Lighthouse Park is a disaster. What I would do there is take a road grader and raze everything in the parking lot, including all the islands, curbs, and dividers, and start over again with an improved design that utilizes the space more efficiently.
I would then implement non-resident parking fees and institute better management of boat launch parking issues, which are among the biggest problems at the park.
Speaking of islands and curbs, I would also make it a priority to improve safety along the Speedway by keeping the foliage trimmed in the endless planters, strips and medians that obscure safe vision in traffic and add nothing to the aesthetic appeal of the Speedway.
Old Town parking is, like so many things, dependent upon the developing waterfront development plan.
I am an experienced business professional and consultant. I am fiscally conservative and committed to balanced budgets, careful prioritizing in spending and gradual, managed growth.
I am opposed to deficit spending, excessive debt and the practice of prioritizing services to city residents by the availability, or lack thereof, of grant money for a particular necessary project.
We can’t wait for federal money or a ‘grant’ to do something about the Speedway bridge to the waterfront before an earthquake knocks it down, for example.
We can’t wait to restore alternate access to the waterfront through the Mt. Baker crossing.
Some of us can’t wait any longer for sidewalks, or traffic lights, or enforcement of traffic laws that stop the epidemic of stop-sign runners who endanger all city residents every day.
Some of us don’t believe in some leader’s “vision” – we want sound fiscal and growth management for today, not down the road another 20 or 30 years.
We don’t need to pay for my opponent’s bike trail to the Boeing plant when it’s not safe to walk on our own streets.
We need proper road maintenance that lasts, not my opponent’s ‘sustainable road maintenance solution’ – chip seal.
Vote Taylor for Council Position 3.