Riaz Khan announces candidacy for Mukilteo City Council

Scott Whelpley unsure if he will run again
By Brandon Gustafson | Jan 16, 2019

A name many in Mukilteo have seen on their election ballots will be there once again this year as Riaz Khan, the perennial candidate who is well-known in Mukilteo for leading the construction of a mosque in Harbour Pointe, is running for Mukilteo City Council.

Khan told The Beacon on Monday, Jan. 14, that he is trying for the third time to represent his fellow citizens on the Mukilteo City Council, and will be running for Position 5.

“It’s my civic duty,” Khan said on running for public office.

Position 5 is held by Scott Whelpley, who defeated Khan for the seat in 2015.

Khan also ran for Mukilteo City Council Position 1 in 2017, but was defeated in the primary by James Yoo and eventual winner and current Council Vice President Anna Rohrbough.

In 2016, Khan ran for state representative for the 21st Legislative District, but lost in the primary election to Jeff Scherrer and Lillian Ortiz-Self, who would go on to win the election in November.

Last year, he ran for state Senator for the 21st District, but finished third in the August primary election to Mario Lotmore and incumbent Marko Liias, who would win his bid for reelection in November.

“I want to bring Mukilteo back to where it was before,” he said, “which is the nicest and safest place to live in the state.”

Khan said it was nice to see Rohrbough and Christine Cook named council vice president and president, respectively, but that he’d like to see more changes within the city’s government.

“We have changed the seats (of council president and vice president), but we need to bring real change to this city,” he said. “We need to bring more experience, (along with) new brains and ideas.”

Diversity is another area Khan mentioned Mukilteo’s government could improve on, as

all seven councilmembers are white, as is Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

“I want to see more diverse people inside City Hall,” Khan said.

Khan said he’d like to see the city take on fewer projects at a time, and focus on ongoing ones.

“We need to see projects through from start to finish,” he said. “Instead of taking on so many of these projects, we need to take fewer and focus on them and complete them within our financial budget.”

Khan said the city has been spending money improperly for years, noting the city’s fight against the new terminal at Paine Field, which will offer commercial air service along the west coast, and to Las Vegas and Denver.

“We went and spent so much money on the airport and we got nothing out of it,” he said. “It wasted our citizens’ money.”

Khan also said there has been a lack of transparency within city government, citing allegations that Gregerson misspent city funds in separation and severance agreements with former employees.

Additionally, Khan opposes the construction of a new parking lot on the waterfront.

There is a proposed plan between the Port of South Whidbey and the Tulalip Tribes to build a parking lot on 2 acres of Tulalip-owned Mukilteo land. The proposed lot would have roughly 250 parking spots.

“That area needs to be left alone,” Khan said.


Whelpley undecided

Khan told The Beacon that he is choosing to run for Position 5 because it will be an open seat.

As mentioned, Whelpley currently holds that seat, and in late 2017 he told The Beacon that he was not planning to seek reelection in 2019. He has repeatedly echoed those statements.

Whelpley has also said he would resign his seat if allegations he has brought forward against Gregerson are found to be incorrect.

Whelpey filed a public records request that found some former Mukilteo city employees received more funds than they were allowed to within the city’s policy in separation and severance agreements signed off by Gregerson.

Whelpley alleges that Gregerson violated state law by conducting contract agreements that didn’t follow the city’s policy without bringing the contracts to the council.

This has led to the Mukilteo City Council seeking outside legal counsel, and the state auditor’s office, which had been investigating the spending, has asked for assistance from the state Attorney General’s office in reviewing the matter.

Whelpley, in a column for The Beacon, said if those allegations are found to be incorrect, he would resign his seat.

Whelpley said he hasn’t ruled out running for reelection in November.

“There are so many things happening in the city that it would be difficult to leave. In good conscience, I’m not sure if I could leave yet, but I will announce my decision soon.”


2019 elections

Before Khan can see his name on the Nov. 5 ballot, he will have to make it out of the primary election in August, something he has done just once when running for either Mukilteo City Council and the Washington state legislature. That was in 2015 when he ran against Whelpley.

This year’s primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Along with Position 5, Positions 4, 6, and 7 will also be on the ballot. Those seats are currently held by Steve Schmalz, Cook, and Richard Emery, respectively.

Gregerson will also be on the ballot, but for Snohomish County Council. If she wins, she will vacate her seat as mayor, giving up the remaining two years of her term.

A special election would take place February 2020 to determine her replacement.

All prospective candidates for the November election must file between May 13 and May 20.


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