Council Candidates' Forum recap

By Brandon Gustafson | Oct 25, 2017

In one of the last public opportunities to sway voters prior to the November election, the six candidates for positions 1, 2 and 3 of Mukilteo’s City Council took the stage at Rosehill Community Center on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

The forum allowed prospective voters to write questions for the candidates. The candidates then had two minutes to answer those questions.

The six remaining candidates are Anna Rohrbough and James Yoo for Position 1, incumbent and current Council President Bob Champion and Peter Zieve for Position 2 and Sarah Kneller and Tony Markey for Position 3.

 

Position 1

 

Anna Rohrbough

 

Rohrbough opened by saying she moved to Mukilteo in 2010 and considers herself to be “a mother first and always.”

She sees Mukilteo as being beautiful and having wonderful people who have reached  out to her during her time in Mukilteo, due to her skills.

In regards to the current waterfront Master Plan, Rohrbough supports it and would like to bring business owners and community leaders in that area together to help be a part of the process and make it go as smooth as possible.

Rohrbough acknowledged that mental health issues are prominent in schools, and that she would like to see a city-sponsored committee to deal with the issue.

Mental health and the ferry terminal are two issues that close to Rohrbough, and she said that the city should try and get creative with solutions to mental health, possibly by talking to first responders.

Another issue brought up was whether a senior center should be built in Mukilteo.

Rohrbough said she wants one built and feels from talking to people in town that some seniors feel “disconnected” and that they need more than just the Rosehill Community Center.

Rohrbough said that a goal of hers, if elected, is to “bridge the gap between seniors and other community members in Mukilteo.”

Rohrbough also said she opposed a $15 minimum wage as she feels that “minimum wage is not supposed to be a living wage” and that businesses can’t afford to be paying 16-year-olds $15 an hour.

Rohrbough closed by saying she is always learning and that the council needs to align the budget with the city’s priorities and to stay on track with that.

 

James Yoo

 

Yoo told his story of coming to America in 1960 with just $60 in his pocket. He said that he made it in business and he now wants to make it in politics.

Yoo believes that “people are our biggest assets” and that he hopes to bring all people together.

Due to his experience in business and teaching, he said he has experience that will be helpful to City Council.

In regards to the waterfront Master Plan, Yoo believes that it’s a large plan and that there are “big dreamers working for the city.”

He questioned where all the money for the plan is coming from, and compared the whole process to Pier 39 in San Francisco.

He said he wants to go about the process at a small scale, and go step-by-step.

When asked about mental health issues in the city, Yoo said that they come  from many different sources and effects people differently.

He said many younger people are overdosing on opioids, and that older people suffer from loneliness and dementia.

He would like to discover what mental health issues are prominent in the city and go from there.

Yoo, as a senior citizen, said getting a senior center built in Mukilteo as his pet project.

He wants funding from the state, and has talked to senators who support this and want to help.

Yoo supports raising the minimum wage. He  believes if raised there’s a possibility businesses will want to hire more local people. He wants it gradually raised over time.

Yoo closed by saying he has a talent at making things happen, and can help lead the council. He said he’s a good listener and a decisive decision maker.

 

Position 2

 

Bob Champion

 

Champion, the incumbent, opened by saying he believes a lot has been accomplished during his time in office.

Points he brought up included helping with the parking problem at the beach and getting more money for additional park services.

Champion talked about the plan for the waterfront and said he hopes to keep Mukilteo beautiful, unique and small.

In regard to Proposition 1, a proposed sales tax increase to help fund transportation and safety improvements by the Transportation Benefit District, Champion said that you look to find money anywhere that you can, but that he did not vote for it. He wants to have all the facts before he comes to a decision, and credits that thinking to his experience as a scientist.

Champion did vote for Mukilteo to have a Transportation Benefit District, which is where the money would be going to from Proposition 1.

Champion wants to see more of the city’s departments operate in similar ways, such as using the same technology, as he sees too many departments working separately and differently, which increases the level of work and decreases the level of services.

When asked about the city encouraging diversity, Champion said he would like to see churches have more informational days or festivals, and that it’s important to recognize the diversity in Mukilteo and to welcome and celebrate it.

Champion believes that the city is trending upward, and wants to keep helping that continue.. He was encouraged and excited by the responses of other candidates at the forum, and in his time in office  they have fully staffed police and fire departments, improved school resources and balanced the budget without raising taxes.

 

Peter Zieve

 

Peter Zieve, the owner of Electroimpact, said he is both Mukilteo’s largest employer and largest taxpayer.

He said he enjoys living in Mukilteo and has four kids who have gone through, or are attending, Mukilteo schools.

“Mukilteo is heading on a path where we’re going to become Seattle,” Zieve said. “I want to preserve Mukilteo living.”

In regards to the waterfront Master Plan, Zieve said he is concerned about public access to the water. He feels there is enough development there and thinks the prospective “Peace Park” is a waste of the city’s money.

Zieve opposes Proposition 1 and the Transportation Benefit District..

“It adds nothing to our capability,” he said.

He said that TBD’s staff are usually “unproductive people who make a lot of money.”

When asked about budget priorities not relating to police, fire or public works, Zieve said he feels the city needs a new Boys and Girls Club, and that he is contributing $200,000 to one.

“The city needs to stop unnecessary spending and make worthwhile investments,” Zieve said.

Since Mukilteo has a high immigrant population, Zieve said he would like to see more city officials visit different churches and communities.

He brought up visiting the Slavic church for its Sunday service after a young boy died after the gate fell on him, while no other city officials were there.

Regarding affordable housing in Mukilteo, Zieve said he is opposed to anything that negatively impacts property owners, and that property owners are among the most important people in the city.

Zieve sees Mukilteo as being on the path to becoming like Seattle, and he doesn’t want that. He wants to keep Mukilteo small, and feels that he opposed a lot of what the current council and the other candidates talk about.

 

Position 3

 

Sarah Kneller

 

Kneller opened by saying she recognizes issues and fights them head-on.

She said she has helped bridge the gap between the school board and the council, and hopes to lay the foundation for the future of the city if elected.

Kneller wants to make sure there is enough parking in Old Town and near the water, for both visitors and residents, and also wants to make improvements to the boat launch at the beach because it can be “treacherous on a rough day.”

When asked how she would handle citizens voting against something she supported, Kneller said her response is one of her strong suits.

“You can’t take the same approach twice,” Kneller said. “It gives you more opportunities to learn and adapt.”

In regard to annexation, Kneller supports it and would gladly accept the areas with retail locations, which would help bring in revenue.

With the current proposal for annexation, there is what Kneller described as “high-risk areas in some of the new areas” which would need to be thoroughly examined, but she feels it would be a positive for the community as a whole.

Kneller does not support raising the minimum wage, as she hasn’t seen enough studies regarding it and that the feedback she has received from business owners and the community is that they don’t support it.

“It would be premature to support something I don’t have all the information for,” Kneller said.

Kneller concluded by saying she is constantly improving and learning from her mistakes, and that she is humble, open-minded and gracious.

She said that she currently works as a producer and production manager for several sports networks, and they keep asking her to come back. That’s because she does such a great job managing and leading, she said.

She loves that Mukilteo is so diverse and is ready to serve them all.

 

Tony Markey

 

Markey said he attends council meetings regularly and likes his voice to be heard.

He considers himself to be a lifelong learner who can manage and handle complex issues and projects.noted that the boat launch at the beach needs improvements, as it has gotten much worse over time.

Markey believes that communication is key, and if citizens vote something down that he supports, it’s likely due to a breakdown in communication, but that he must abide by the voters and would go back to the drawing board if necessary.

He has experience with managing people, and feels he can help find better ways for the council and departments and citizens to communicate with each other.

Markey is a big supporter of annexation, as he feels that Mukilteo is almost “built out” and that it makes a lot of sense to add surrounding areas to Mukilteo.

He likes the way that the phasing would work for adding the areas to Mukilteo officially, and hopes that if those areas are added to Mukilteo the city’s unique community will be retained.

Markey supports raising the minimum wage, and believes it should be a livable wage. Markey hopes the council can work with the business community to make it happen.

Markey described the council as having an issue with focus. He said it gets going on something important and then gets off task when a new issue arises.

In terms of the city’s budget, Markey thinks too much money is being spent on consultants, and the city needs to focus on hiring people with experience to help with budgetary issues.

Markey said his priorities are clear, and he can provide clear communication if elected to the council.

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