Council should send government change measure to the voters

By Beacon Staff | May 15, 2019

At the Mukilteo City Council’s May 6 meeting, Councilmember Scott Whelpley got the ball rolling on potentially changing Mukilteo’s form of government.

Over the last few months, the council has discussed the possibility of changing Mukilteo’s government from a mayor-council form to a city manager-council structure.

The arguments for changing it are limiting the role politics plays in decision-making, limiting – or ending – the apparent strife between Mukilteo’s elected officials, and having a full-time, qualified manager who has the necessary experience to run a business the size of the city of Mukilteo.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that changing the system ensures things will work out for the better.

In nearby Mill Creek, we saw that the manager-council form of government can have its fair share of issues. Its former city manager was investigated for whistleblower complaints that she was running a hostile and abusive work environment. Additionally, the state Auditor’s Office released a report that noted questionable meal and alcohol expenses on the manager’s city-issued credit card.

She was on paid leave for months while the matter was investigated, and ultimately she was fired late last year.

As with most choices in life, especially regarding politics, there are pros and cons.

Regardless of Mill Creek’s recent challenges with that form of government, the decision should go to Mukilteo voters.

The change of government can only occur if approved by a majority of Mukilteo voters. To get to the voters, the City Council first needs a council majority to approve putting the measure on the November ballot. The council is expected to vote May 20.

We are not here to say whether Mukilteo voters should vote one way or the other if it’s put on the ballot. We are here to say that the council shouldput the measure on the ballot.

This is an important election year for Mukilteo, even if the government structure measure isn’t on the ballot.

There are four City Council seats on the ballot, and the mayor and council vice president are both running for Snohomish County Council. If the council vice president wins, someone will need to be appointed to her seat, regardless of whether the form of government measure passes. If the mayor wins her race and the form of government measure doesn’t pass – or isn’t on the ballot at all – there will be a special election early next year for someone to finish the remaining two years of her term.

Then you add in that the new ferry terminal’s construction is underway, and there has already been discussion about potentially expanding the number of flights out of Paine Field, well, clearly, a lot is going on.

Mukilteo voter input is extremely important this year, as it will drastically shape the future of the city, perhaps more so than ever.

Additionally, we have one other request. If you are strongly for or against the government change, attend the May 20 meeting.

Far too often, citizens hear of a council decision and voice their displeasure. Often, residents complain that there was a lack of citizen input on the council’s decision, yet the council chambers are empty aside from the council and city staff.

Mukilteo City councilmembers should vote to put the measure on the 2019 ballot, regardless of whether they personally think Mukilteo should keep its current structure.

Mukilteo voters – not seven councilmembers – should decide the structure of the city’s government.

Regardless of which way it goes, at least the citizens will have had their say.

That decision can only be made if a council majority allows it to happen.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Charles Eakins | May 17, 2019 11:27

I agree, it should be put to a vote of the citizens if the council decides it should go forward with that.

If you wish to comment, please login.