Mayor Gregerson to stay at full time as part-time motion fails

By Brandon Gustafson | Nov 15, 2017
Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

After back-and-forth debate Monday followed last week’s proposal to reduce Jennifer Gregerson’s job as full-time mayor to part-time, talks were abruptly halted and it appears that Gregerson will stay on full time.

As Councilmember Scott Whelpley and council Vice President Steve Schmalz were arguing for reducing Gregerson’s salary and job status, council President Bob Champion announced that he had a flight to catch and that they should consider tabling the talks to a future meeting.

Whelpley brought the issue up at last week’s meeting, proposing to reduce Gregerson’s salary to $30,000 per year and making it a part-time position.

He continued to state his case Monday, arguing it would save the city over $40,000 per year.

“As discussed last week, this is all about the leveling of resources and removing redundancy costs and finding where [the money] really needs to go,” Whelpley said. “We’ve heard that our police and fire are understaffed. The number one thing that the citizens have said and that we have all ran on was public safety. We’re hurting with it right now.”

Whelpley went on to say that Gregerson has done a great job of putting a staff together with Marko Liias as Mukilteo’s Policy Analyst and Steve Edin as the Management Services Director.

“My motion was to reduce the redundancy of having a full-time mayor … those two officials have done a great job, and they are running this city,” Whelpley said. “By the hire of these two men, we have shown the citizens that we don’t need a full-time mayor position. We have these two men who can do it for that position.”

Councilmember Richard Emery felt that the council was potentially rushing into making a decision and that there should be a salary commission to review salaries paid to mayors in cities comparable to Mukilteo. He also felt that they needed to be aware of what would happen if the mayor’s position were cut to part time.

“Mukilteo is indeed a small community, but we also happen to be in the middle of a bunch of larger communities, and we happen to be a nexus for a lot of things that impact us disproportionately because of our location,” Emery said. “I think we need someone out in the larger community advocating for Mukilteo on a full-time basis, and I don’t see how a mayor position that’s part time can do that effectively.

“I think this is something to be careful about and not rush into this year just to think we could save 40 to 50 thousand dollars, which in the scale of our budget is not that much. I can’t support a motion that’ll cut the salary without that kind of process and discussion.”

Whelpley responded to Emery’s claims by saying that the city had dealt with having a part-time mayor before, and could do it again because of the role of the city’s staff. Whelpley was also upset about Emery’s claim that cutting Gregerson’s salary would only be saving the city around $40,000.

“When we’re going back to saying, ‘It’s only $40,000’ we need every penny we can get,” Whelpley said. “We should be kicking over every rock and looking under every tree. So, I disagree with what we’re saying here.

“I came in with my eyes wide open and trying to learn everything that’s going on. I’m not going to stand in line and say, ‘There’s no way we can find and save more money.’ I’m not going to sit here with my eyes shut. I think we need to roll our sleeves up and do our job.”

Councilmember Randy Lord felt that as he and Councilmember Ted Wheeler are retiring soon, that the talks should be moved to when the recently elected candidates, Anna Rohrbough and Sarah Kneller, will be on the council.

“I consider it critical that we should have a significant number of people here who actually are going to represent the council,” Lord said. “I move that we table this until next year when the two new councilmembers are in, and the people who are outgoing who will not have an official vested position shouldn’t be addressing this issue.”

A vote to table the discussion regarding the mayor’s salary tied 3-3, with Lord, Champion and Emery voting yes and Whelpley, Wheeler and Schmalz voting against tabling it until 2018.

Lord then moved to adjourn the meeting, which passed 2-1, with Emery, Wheeler and Whelpley not voting.

“Before we could think about or decide if we wanted to continue with the motion on the table, Randy Lord and Bob Champion made a motion to adjourn the meeting passing 2-1 with Ted and I in bewilderment and Richard clueless to what was happening on our end,” Whelpley said following the meeting. “Should I have pressed to have the motion made for the part-time position, I believe it would have failed because of the 3-3 vote prior.”

Whelpley, who initially thought that the motion failed and was finished, clarified that there’s still a chance for it to go through, but is unlikely because of some absentees in the next few meetings.

“The motion is still floating out there,” Whelpley said in an email. “But Ted Wheeler and Bob Champion will be absent next Monday, and I will be the following.

“I wanted to have this decided prior to the finalization of the election. Unfortunately, the city will continue to pay for three people doing the same or nothing at all in the executive department for the next few years. I, on the other hand, will not be there for the next mayoral election in I've decided I will not run for re-election.”

 

Comments (1)
Posted by: Joe Kunzler | Nov 15, 2017 13:08

As to, “I wanted to have this decided prior to the finalization of the election. Unfortunately, the city will continue to pay for three people doing the same or nothing at all in the executive department for the next few years. I, on the other hand, will not be there for the next mayoral election in I've decided I will not run for re-election.”

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#1. I accept Concilmember Whelpley's intentions as mostly pure.  I heard the fiscal conservative genuine passion on the live feed.  But the voters spoke, and want a community builder in Mayor Jennifer Gregerson to be properly compensated for the work she does.  I also think this conversation is a means of sabotaging my friend and had it succeeded, perhaps forced Mukilteo taxpayers to pay for an expensive special election/re-vote and endure another nasty campaign if Mayor Gregerson had to resign due to financial reasons as a new divorcee.

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#2. I want to remind the folks again that Mayor Gregerson and I have a lot of work ahead finalizing plans for new Community Transit service next year.  I am hoping for a private-sector funded launch party and that's going to take more work too.  So we have a Mayor who needs to be a Super Mayor sleeves up and on the football field - not a pretty figurehead.

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Thanks for understanding.



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