Candidates share thoughts on annexation and desirability

By Brandon Gustafson | Jul 24, 2019

The Aug. 6 primary election is less than two weeks away, and we’ve got more information that may help you decide who you’ll be voting for in the Mukilteo City Council race.

This year, there are four City Council seats (Positions 4-7) on the ballot, with three candidates running for each seat.

This makes the primary more important than in years past, as well as other races, because only the top two vote getters in each race move on to the general election in November.

To give Mukilteo voters an opportunity to learn more about where the 12 candidates seeking office stand on various issues, The Beacon sent out six questions for the candidates to answer earlier this month.

So far, we have heard candidates’ thoughts on the form of government ballot measure, a proposed waterfront parking lot, and commercial air service at Paine Field.

This week, we focused on potentially annexing areas of unincorporated Snohomish County into Mukilteo (such as the east side of the Mukilteo Speedway, where Azteca is, and Picnic Point), as well as what can be done from the City government to make Mukilteo a better place to live for current residents, as well as more desirable for people who may be looking to move to town.

Like the last two weeks, candidates were given a maximum of 150 words for each response. Responses will be listed in order of which seat they are running for (Position 4 first, 7 last), and in alphabetical order by last name.

 

Charles Eakins – Position 4

 

Annexation

I’ve talked to several business owners along the east side of the Speedway, including Kush Pointe. The problem with annexation is that unless there is some kind of increase in the number of cannabis licenses by the state for Mukilteo, this would completely destroy a business.

There are currently two licensed cannabis businesses already in Mukilteo. I think that it should be (crucial) that it won’t affect any businesses.

I think limiting license holders is antibusiness, and cronyism, and we shouldn’t be destroying a legal business with annexation.

 

Desirability

I think we should be attracting IT businesses; we have the infrastructure for it, and we have a lot of citizens that work in IT.

Seattle is getting stale because of the antibusiness environment. It would be good for our economy, also.

 

Richard Emery – Position 4

 

Annexation

This is a topic that needs to be revisited.

Mukilteo already provides some services to the area on the east side of the Speedway. From the perspective of Mukilteo, this area is the most obvious and attractive portion of the Mukilteo Urban Growth Area (MUGA) to annex. It, and other portions of the MUGA, provide opportunities for development that may defer pressure to upzone or increase development in the City.

The context here is the expectation that tens of thousands of people will be moving into the county in the next few decades. It will be in the best interests of the City to be in charge of where and how the development to accommodate all of them will be.

 

Desirability

The council was nearly unanimous at its annual retreat about making Mukilteo even more beautiful. Some early goals are to replace and add entry signs and to upgrade landscaping.

There is discussion about a “1 percent for the arts” concept … either as part of construction projects or as an element in the general fund budget. This would create a source of funding for public art over the years.

The City has adopted a vigorous pavement preservation plan, as well as a plan for more walking and bike paths in order to maintain the quality of our streets and improve options for enjoying our city safely without a car.

Lastly, marvelous plans have been developed for finishing Lighthouse Park, the entrances to Japanese Gulch Park, and waterfront development, including a promenade from Edgewater Park to Lighthouse Park, and daylighting Japanese Gulch Creek.

These will be pursued as funding from the City and grants are available.

 

Scott Whelpley – Position 4

 

Annexation

I’ve always been a strong advocate of obtaining the property across the Speedway because of the tax revenues and property values it would bring to the City.

However, acquiring the rest of the annexation properties comes at a great cost.  Numerous City and County staff studies show that the tax revenues would nowhere nearly cover the increased cost for the city to provide police and fire service, infrastructure/road maintenance, and potential liabilities for those areas on the hillsides.

Families in those annexation areas would see a significant increase in their property and utility taxes, eventually seeing the rezoning and expansive growth of their neighborhoods necessary in providing the additional revenues for services.

The City and County staff have all the studies and data showing it not being cost effective to the City.

I recommend asking them for the real answers instead of listening to someone who is running for office.

 

Desirability

Mukilteo is a wonderful and gorgeous place to live.

Making a better place to live requires us, as a community, to hold ourselves and our City government accountable and to a higher standard.

We should expect our City government to protect and provide all the services needed to keep Mukilteo a safe and vibrant community. This can only be achieved by having enough revenue and resources available needed to make this a desirable place to live.

A few electeds believe that raising your car tabs and increasing your property taxes will allow us to obtain those dollars needed to keep the city beautiful and safe. This is shortsighted and a lazy attempt to cover for excessive spending.

How do we make this city even better for current and future residents? By electing people who want to serve the community above personal, political, and financial gain.

Start with City Hall.

 

Riaz Khan – Position 5

 

Annexation

Mukilteo’s financial commission has finished their case study and pointed out that annexation from the east side of the Mukilteo Speedway where McDonald’s and Azteca are would be a good deal.

I personally feel that portion from McDonald’s to Azteca would be a great financially generated area for the City of Mukilteo.

 

Desirability

If I get elected, I will focus on bringing Mukilteo back where it was as a top and safe place to live in the United States.

Developing the waterfront, continuing the Lighthouse Festival parade, neighborhood watches, vocation trade colleges, and building a dream center for senior citizens.

 

Christopher Maddux – Position 5

 

Annexation

We need to be smart about expanding the City limits.

Before annexing any area, we need to ask a lot of questions.

What is the driving force behind expanding the City beyond its current size? Does it provide any benefits to the residents or businesses? What would be the long-term goals with the area? What would the cost be to acquire and service the area?

Any areas that we annex would require additional City resources to service and maintain. Some areas may make sense to annex, while others would not. We would need to evaluate each area individually and determine if it benefits the people of our City.

 

Desirability

The City government controls what can be built where by specifying zoning. We cannot be a small, tight-knit community if we allow overcrowding by zoning areas as high-density residential. Packing more people into an area puts a larger strain on infrastructure such as roads and utilities.

The City can also help move along the plan for a senior center. There is a group of wonderful people that have been working on this plan for years. They already have architectural drawings and plans for funding the construction without City funds.

The Lighthouse Festival is another item. Years ago, the festival included many activities for the residents, unlike more recent years where outside of some rides for only the young children, only venders are there. There simply isn’t much for teenagers or young adults to do, nor are there activities to connect and interact with our neighbors.

 

James Yoo – Position 5

Annexation

I agree with the annexation because the City will have revenue in return to the current services it has provided to these commercial establishments.

 

Desirability

I suggest the following measures:

Establish an integrated community that has a good school system, safe open parks, and efficient traffic flow. In this community, the family, youth, seniors, and businesses can co-exist harmoniously.

Promote cross-cultural activities to encourage ethnic communities to be a part of the City.

Grant a moratorium on multidwelling permits in order to reduce the heavy traffic congestion.

 

Exekiel Aranez – Position 6

 

Annexation

I think about improving the quality of life for the existing Mukilteo residents and businesses.

I want to learn more about how the annexation's short-term and long-term goals of financial and developmental impacts on our City.

 

Desirability

Our City government must continue to promote diversity.

Although our Mukilteo has been labeled as a tight-knit community, many people would still love to pursue happiness in our diverse communities.

I think of maintaining Mukilteo as a green city and people's safety are a couple of good incentives for the residents.

We must not only rely upon our City governmental leaders as solely responsible of our well-being, but all of us must come together and take responsibility in maintaining our American values, ethics, moral standards, and discipline to stay intact.

Elisabeth Crawford – Position 6

 

Annexation

The commercial area east of the Speedway (annexation phase 1) would provide increased tax revenue and benefit Mukilteo. However, annexation of that area may come with a commitment to annex other residential areas that may not be as financially appealing because they require us to provide expensive City services to those new residents.

Our growth management interlocal agreement with the County is due for renewal, and I support an agreement with Snohomish County and communication with the Boundary Review Committee that does not commit us to annexing the full area until we have the updated information necessary to make an informed decision.

Mukilteo residents previously rejected the full annexation option through an advisory vote, and although a financial study was completed at that time, we should not make any commitment to annex beyond phase 1 until completion of an updated financial sustainability study and potentially a new advisory vote.

 

Desirability

City government should leave party lines and emotions behind and work together for the residents of Mukilteo.

Mistakes have been made and lessons have been learned; now it is time to move forward and implement policies that focus on the community.

As a Mukilteo Parks and Arts commissioner, I am acutely aware of the need for citywide events and activities that help build a strong community.

The Farmers Market, Movies in the Park, and the Lighthouse Festival parade were great community events that lacked enough volunteers, and were canceled. Events like these foster community pride and strengthen relationships among residents and elected officials.

I will bring unity, collaboration, and public service to the City Council, which I believe will motivate the community and return our strong spirit of volunteering.

 

Peter Zieve – Position 6

 

Annexation

When Joe Marine became mayor in 2006, he was an advocate for annexation and an advisory vote was put on the ballet in November 2010. Mukilteo residents rejected the annexation proposal.

At the time, I was skeptical of the annexation proposal because some of the area along Highway 99 was seedy. It seemed like the mayor was empire building.

Since then, the Vantage apartments have been built on the Mukilteo Speedway across from Albertsons.

I mentioned my displeasure to former Mayor Joe Marine and he told me, “That is exactly the type of project we could have had an influence over if we had done the annexation.” So now I get it, and I regret my negative vote in 2010.

There is a well-researched and documented article here:

http://pugetsoundscape.com/2015/02/the-case-for-south-mukilteo-annexation/.

This article makes a strong case for annexation.

 

Desirability

Three issues come to mind.

City government should advocate for single-family “RD” zoning. This is an issue for the Boeing Tech Center on Harbour Heights Parkway. The owners have requested “MR” high density zoning, which is 22 dwellings per acre. I am opposed to any upzoning.

City government should advocate for transportation and parking for Mukilteo residents and not just to be a footpath for residents of Whidbey Island.

City government should advocate for community culture and traditions. Unfortunately, this year the Lighthouse Festival parade is canceled for the first time in 53 years. It is not coincidental that I did not see a single member of the City Council participating in the 2018 Lighthouse Festival parade, and now the event is cancelled.

I have four kids in the Mukilteo schools and I will continue to participate in and be involved in all community activities if I am selected to serve.

 

Joe Marine – Position 7

 

Annexation

This is an issue that would take much more than 150 words.

When we annex an area, we have the ability to control that with our zoning and our codes. We would also have a chance in developing the area to look more like Mukilteo.

We have already lost opportunities along the Speedway that were developed under the County. We certainly wouldn't have allowed large billboards and probably not storage facilities.

This area has been in our MUGA (Municipal Urban Growth Area) for years. Either we annex before it's completely developed, or we're stuck with something we may not like. An option is to pull out of the MUGA and let somebody else annex the area.

 

Desirability

I believe Mukilteo already is a great place. During my tenure as mayor, we were ranked twice in the top-10 best small cities to live in America by Money Magazine.

I have noticed we can do a much better job of keeping up on our landscaping and encourage businesses to do the same.

When we walk, bike and drive through Mukilteo, people want to be proud of our community.

Kristina Melnichenko – Position 7

 

Annexation

One of the biggest reasons I am running is to preserve the quality of Mukilteo, and part of that quality is the small-town feel of the City.

I could see arguments for including up through the McDonald’s intersection in any consideration of annexation, if it were a good time.

What Mukilteo needs now, though, is a focus on the opportunities and challenges of the airport, the ferry, and waterfront projects, and existing budgetary constraints.

I think the residents of Mukilteo would rather have an equitable tax structure and a park and ride  (instead of) the expense and distraction of an expansion of our geographic area.

For those reasons, I would not support annexation at this time.

 

Desirability

Economic justice means the quality of life in Mukilteo does not decline as a consequence of increased economic activity.

A tax structure that ensures companies pay the true cost of doing business will alleviate the tax burden on homeowners and maximize the quality of public goods and services. Currently, Mukilteo homeowners, residents, and visitors are taxed to capacity while the growth seen on the business side hasn’t had the impact possible, because it is only 10 percent of the total tax revenue.

A restructuring of our tax code is required if Mukilteo is to reap the benefits of growth. The equitable distribution of the benefits of growth – and the quality of Mukilteo – are not guaranteed.

The values and priorities of our leaders in the coming years will be of the utmost importance – a vote for Kristina Melnichenko is a vote for Mukilteo homeowners and residents taking priority over business interests.

 

Look for the candidates’ answers to our final question in next week’s edition of The Beacon.

The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 6. The two candidates with the most votes move on to the Nov. 5 general election.

 

 

The Beacon did not receive responses from Position 7 candidate Tina Over.

 

 

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