Citizens’ group forms to fight Zieve candidacy

By Paul Archipley | Oct 11, 2017

Mukilteo’s normally sleepy election season is anything but this year, mainly due to the candidacy of one person: Peter Zieve.

Zieve, founder and owner of Electroimpact, an international aerospace automation company headquartered in Mukilteo, is challenging incumbent Bob Champion for Position 2 on the Mukilteo City Council.

An independent group of citizens called Mukilteo for All has formed to oppose Zieve’s candidacy. Its members don’t think Zieve would be the kind of leader they want representing the city.

Spokesperson Paul Kramer said their goal ultimately is “to promote Mukilteo as a welcoming city.”

“We intend to reach out to help people see that Peter is a divisive figure who doesn’t represent our values,” Kramer said. The group planned to launch a website and Facebook page today (Oct. 11), he said.

Kramer emphasized that the group is not involved with or a part of Champion’s campaign.

Zieve garnered 26.71 percent of the vote in a three-way primary race, taking second place and earning a spot on the general election ballot. Champion, currently serving as the council president, took first place with 54.28 percent of the vote.

Despite that seemingly comfortable margin for the incumbent, Kramer said the Mukilteo for All coalition didn’t want to take any chances.

“This is not a time for complacency,” he said. “We felt the need to speak up and let our values be known, because we care about this community.”

Although well known in the engineering and aerospace community since he founded Electroimpact in 1986, Zieve wasn’t widely known in Mukilteo until he anonymously mass-mailed a postcard to Mukilteans in April 2016 raising concerns about plans to build a mosque here.

People who responded to an email address on the postcard received messages warning the mosque potentially could become a “breeding place for terrorists.”

When the Beacon investigated and discovered that Zieve was behind the postcard, he apologized for sending it anonymously, and said his primary concern was about radicals coming into the community.

In an article published in April 2016, the Seattle Times interviewed half a dozen current and former employees who shared stories of Zieve’s outspoken opinions that made them uncomfortable and caused some to leave the company.

For example, the Times reported that Zieve elaborated to a “mosque watch group” of employees and local residents on his philosophy in a February 2015 email on people who sterilize themselves.

He wrote, “When they choose not to repopulate and allow our wonderful country to be backfilled with rubbish from the desperate and criminal populations of the Third World, I find that to be disgusting, and I find those persons to make those decisions to be repulsive, and I don’t like them around me.”

Furthering the perception that Zieve was bigoted, the state Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit, claiming Zieve’s company violated state law by discriminating against employees and job applicants on the basis of religion and marital status.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson described the alleged conduct as “outrageous” and “shocking.”

In a consent decree in March 2017, Electroimpact agreed to a fine of $485,000, and Zieve agreed to temporarily step aside from any decision-making in the company’s hiring process.

Calling himself a victim in the dispute, Zieve charged that Attorney General Bob Ferguson is a headline-seeking government official whose actions are killing jobs in Washington state.

“I built a company from dirt and water and planted the seeds in this state, and they are persecuting me,” Zieve told the Beacon last March.

He said this week that if anyone has shown favoritism toward married people, the biggest offender is the federal government itself.

“The tax rate for married (people) is far less than single,” he noted. “Same thing for car and medical insurance.”

As for charges of discrimination against minorities, Zieve said a large contingent of Muslims marched with him in the recent Lighthouse Festival parade, many people of color work at his company, and his campaign manager is African-American.

Mukilteo resident Kirin Quadeer, a Pakistani Muslim woman, said she got to know Zieve and his family, and found them to be open and caring.

“You can’t judge somebody by a couple of things he said in the past,” Quadeer said.

“I had heard a lot about him, and was honestly hesitant to meet him.” Nevertheless, she asked him to sit down and talk, and came away impressed.

“He welcomed me. He’s been very helpful in so many ways,” she said.

Mario Lotmore, Zieve’s volunteer campaign manager, expressed similar support.

Lotmore, a gay African-American, met Zieve a couple of years ago through the local Republican Party, and said the man he has come to know is different from the one being portrayed.

“He’s being accused of things that aren’t true,” Lotmore said. “I’ve never felt discriminated against or judged for who I am.”

He believes the negative opinions in the community stem from the postcard.

“The way he handled it was not politically correct,” Lotmore said, “not the best.”

Although Zieve also has campaigned heavily as a proponent of family values, public records show several instances of police responding to domestic violence reports at his home over the years (but no convictions).

Zieve said those incidents were related to his wife suffering from a brain tumor since 2001 that has affected her personality. “She does lose control,” he said.

His wife also has vocally supported her husband’s candidacy.

Nevertheless, Kramer said Zieve’s record of discrimination at his business, his divisive comments about Muslims and immigrants, and other reported instances of intolerance have resulted in a growing number of residents coming together to form Mukilteo for All to prevent his election.

“We want to keep Mukilteo a welcoming community, and Peter doesn’t do that,” Kramer said.

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