New year, new roles in City Council

Familiar faces in new leadership roles for 2018
By Brandon Gustafson | Jan 10, 2018

After taking time off for the holidays, Mukilteo’s City Council met for the first time in 2018 on Tuesday, Jan. 2 and elected this year’s council president and vice president.

After serving as vice president in 2017, Steve Schmalz was elected to serve as president for 2018, and Christine Cook was elected vice president.

When Mayor Gregerson opened the floor for nominations, Councilmember Bob Champion, who had served as council president from 2015 to 2017, nominated Councilmember Richard Emery, who served as council president for two years, to the top post.

Afterwards, Councilmember Scott Whelpley nominated Schmalz.

“He has been the longest-sitting member, consistently for the last few years. He hasn’t been council president, Councilmember Emery has,” Whelpley said. “I think it’s time for a change, so I think he’d be a good council president.”

When it went to a vote, the decision was split 3-3, as Councilmember Anna Rouhrbough was not at the meeting.

Councilmembers Emery, Champion and Sarah Kneller voted for Emery, while Schmalz, Whelpley and Cook voted for Schmalz.

“In coming to council meetings for the last 14 or 15 years, I’ve seen how the council president and the mayor and the administration kind of works,” Schmalz said. “The process is they set the agenda and they represent the council. I see it in a way where I would like to see the council more involved with setting the agenda.

“We have to do city business, of course … But also, we need to put on our council priorities, the priorities that you ran on, the priorities that you talk to your constituents about. I believe that sometimes, we get lost and don’t have those on there, so I think it’s important that we have a voice that can get those items on the agenda and work with everybody on the council.”

Schmalz went on to say he had ideas for making meetings run more efficiently, and that the council needs to work together for the citizens of Mukilteo.

“I also believe that the council, as a whole, we all have our goals and we’re all chasing the same thing. What’s in the best interest for our residents?” Schmalz said. “We may see different paths on how to get there, but we want to be able to get there, and I think that having good representation and being able to give everyone a voice on the council is important. I think having a council president that understands that and is able to get those particular items and get your voice heard is important.”

Councilmember Emery talked about his experience serving as council president, and his passion for the position.

“Well, I think I bring a couple years experience to it, which I did have some years ago,” Emery said. “It’s not something I’ve done recently, but I am actually pretty enthusiastic about being in that role for this upcoming year, anyhow, to provide some leadership in terms of direction and vision to the city and to the council.”

Emery spoke about criticism of his job as council president in the past, and how he hoped to do a better job if elected.

“It has been brought to my attention that there were some councilmembers in the past who felt that I was not responsive as council president in my prior role. If that was the case for them, I regret that,” Emery said. “I believe it is the council president’s role to make sure all councilmembers are listened to and paid attention to and considered, and that their issues are brought to the council to be discussed.”

Champion then voiced his concerns regarding Schmalz potentially being elected council president.

“Beyond making sure that the voice of council is heard across the board, there are other duties and responsibilities that councilmembers have,” Champion said. “Councilmember Schmalz in the last year really didn’t participate in anything. I hate to say it that way, but it was true. He was not at the retreat, he didn’t attend any committee meetings, and so it put a burden on the rest of the councilmembers.”

In response, Schmalz said he missed the council retreat due to family health issues, and didn’t take part in committee meetings because it was the wish of Champion, who was serving as president at the time.

Schmalz said he would keep agendas filled throughout the year so they aren’t overloaded with issues at the end of the year.

Eventually, Champion flipped his vote, and voted for Schmalz, giving him a 4-2 victory over Emery.

“I accept what Councilmember Schmalz says of, ‘let’s look at something different, let’s look at something new and let’s try something new,’ so I will endorse that approach and vote for Councilmember Schmalz,” Champion said.

Councilmember Cook was then the only nominee for council vice president, being nominated by Schmalz, and will serve in that role for 2018.



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