Candidates tell us how they've prepared for public office

5-week Q/A series showcases candidate views on Mukilteo’s top issues
By Nicholas Johnson | Jul 26, 2017
Courtesy of: candidates Eight of 10 Mukilteo City Council candidates responded to a set of five questions from the Mukilteo Beacon. Candidates pictured above include (from top left) incumbent City Council President Bob Champion, Peter Zieve, Tina Over, Anna Rohrbough, Tony Markey, Sarah Kneller, James Yoo and Riaz Khan. Position 3 candidates Troy Gray and Maxwell Chen did not respond to the Beacon's questions.

The fifth and final question in the Mukilteo Beacon’s Q/A series with candidates for City Council focuses on how past experiences have prepared them for public service.

This five-week series began June 28 with a question on commercial air service coming to Paine Field airport. In its second week, the Beacon asked candidates where they stand on a proposed sales tax measure headed to the November general election ballot.

In the third week, candidates told us whether they would have voted for the “welcoming city” resolution passed by the City Council in June. Last week, candidates described their visions for redevelopment of the city’s downtown waterfront.

If you’ve missed any of those, visit mukilteobeacon.com to find the candidates’ answers.

All 10 candidates were given a week to consider five questions and submit answers of no more than 200 words for each. Eight provided responses.

This week’s question: You have signed up to represent Mukilteo’s roughly 21,000 residents as an elected public official. While the private sector is primarily concerned with turning a profit for individual companies and their shareholders, the public sector exists to provide essential services for the benefit of society in general. What is your experience in the public sector, and how has that prepared you for this position? If you have little or no public-sector experience, how have your other experiences, such as with business or volunteering, prepared you for this position?

 

Pos. 1

 

Anna Rohrbough

I am an experienced leader, and I know how to lead a diverse group of people to a collective decision. As an active participant in our city and surrounding communities, a business owner and a mother of two kids in our schools, I bring a unique set of skills and expertise to this position.

As a member of the Long-Range Finance committee since 2014, I not only have firsthand knowledge of working with the current council, but also have experience on the process of balancing the budget while prioritizing the needs of our community.

I have the right tools, talent and influence to make a difference in the decision making process and, not to be understated, to treat the city staff and its department heads with respect so that we can collaborate and get to real solutions for the obstacles we continue to face.

Whether it’s serving as the chair of the Economic Alliance Snohomish County Ambassadors, a board member of the Mukilteo Chamber, or as a board member of the Sno-Isle Library Foundation, I have been preparing to be your Mukilteo councilwoman for many years. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Riaz Khan

I have experience working in the public-sector arena. As we know, growth in the public sector is rising sharply. Private sector-like government organizations are not much different from large, corporate organizations in the public sector, and indeed both sectors want to save money and operate efficiently.

The public sector is facing an ongoing need to find efficiencies, using technology as a way of reaching out to citizens online, making it an ideal customer base for outsourcing.

Most cities in Snohomish County are planning to outsource many jobs, including IT, human resources, customer services, etc., to the private sector. For example, internet services are being outsourced to foreign countries for handling.

One other important part of the private sector is public transportation. During one of my encounters, I was fortunate to meet the president of Sound Transit and found out that Snohomish County will increase by more than 15 percent population in the next 10 years. Our state is doing a complete makeover of the Sound Transit system to facilitate the public sector.

 

James Yoo

I may be a small business owner, but I am a resident first. I am not a career politician, and I think that the fundamental element of democracy is that anyone can be involved.

I have participated in several legislative measures as a proponent of change, and through these experiences, I have gained a level of understanding and patience. I also understand the frustration held by many of our citizens regarding the difficulty in securing affordable permits and sitting in traffic.

I am also a proud senior citizen, and I represent a voice that is often not heard. All these experiences, and a lifetime of learning, have prepared me to represent this great city on the council.

 

Pos. 2

 

Bob Champion

Before being elected to public office, I served seven years as a member of my homeowners association.

The objective of both the public and private sectors is to bring value. Working with my fellow council members, we have tried to bring value to our residents, our business community and visitors. We have maintained and are enhancing the city’s infrastructure, we have provided the equipment and resources necessary to ensure a safe environment, and we have been fiscally responsible and judicious with the expenditures of public funds.

Both sectors have the objective of running an organization in a cost-effective and efficient manner. I have recommended, and the city has adopted, practical solutions to help the city improve in both of these areas.

 

Peter Zieve

I’ve been balancing a budget for a business for 40 years. I think this is valuable experience.

In the public sector, I spent two years as a professor at the University of Washington, from 1986 until 1988. That was valuable experience, as well.

 

Tina Over

With my background as a community volunteer in many facets, as well as my previous business experience, I know that I am prepared to represent Mukilteo residents.

I know that there is a way to not raise taxes and cut overall costs without taking away much needed services within our community. I have proven this with the strong negotiation skills I learned while running a multi-million dollar business, one that before my leadership was always in the red and not turning a profit.

I continue to use my leadership skills as an executive PTA board member; developing concepts, looking at logistics, working with others to know their concerns and needs, and then arriving at an outcome that serves the community and our budget.

I am compassionate, open minded, and know the strength that diversity can bring, and I know I can bring that diversity out while serving on the City Council.

 

Pos. 3

 

Tony Markey

My direct financial experience is fairly broad.

My educational background includes a Master’s in Business Administration. I have managed health care clinics at community non-profit hospitals and been responsible for multi-million dollar budgets for years.

Health care budgeting is a good proxy for city budgeting: in health care, you are always balancing services provided with funding resources available. Since community hospitals are non-profit entities, the goal is always quality service above all else.

Similarly, the people of Mukilteo want the highest level of service possible with the lowest possible tax rate for those services. Balancing service level with revenue is what I do. I believe that’s one of the reasons I am endorsed by a majority of City Council members.

I’m also proud to say that I’ve spent two years working as a volunteer on the city’s Long-Range Finance Committee and two years on the school district’s budget committee. These experiences have given me a sound background for managing projects and improving services while balancing the budget. My budgeting and finance background would be unique to the present council, and I hope to earn your vote.

 

Sarah Kneller

I have been uniquely blessed in my ability to work in two very different worlds on a regular basis.

Professionally, I work in sports and technology broadcasting, working in one of the most highly collaborative, creative and demanding fields there is. I’ve had the opportunity to drive the broadcast for an eSports tournament, crowd sourcing over $22 million and drawing in over 42 million viewers worldwide. I’ve had the chance to learn from and collaborate with brilliant minds, creative risk takers and innovators.

Conversely, I regularly volunteer with the Everett Gospel Mission women’s and children’s shelter. I also serve as a “Financial Ally” supporting financial independence as participants learn to alleviate poverty in their lives.

Working firsthand with families who have been scarred by domestic violence, declining mental health and addiction, I have learned that it is not removed from our own neighborhoods.

As the treasurer for the nonprofit “Treasured901,” we work with community foster family support centers to get resources directly to the children who need them most.

I live to serve, I live to problem solve, and I live to listen to, learn from, and engage with my community.

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