Vote Mukilteo’s future

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Councilmember | Oct 13, 2010

On Nov. 2, Mukilteo voters will have the opportunity to vote on two very important local issues.

They’ll vote on whether or not to allow “red light cameras,” also known as “automatic ticketing machines” (ATMs) in Mukilteo and whether or not Mukilteo voters are in favor of an annexation plan to increase Mukilteo’s population by about 50 percent and doubling our commercial acreage.

While I don’t expect to change any minds on either one of these issues, I do believe pointing out the not-so-obvious might be helpful in understanding why things happen, or will happen, the way they do.  I’m also going to go out on a limb and predict how I think the vote on both these issues will go. I actually think it’s more like going out on a stump but who knows, I might be wrong.

Where does the council majority stand on these issues?

Regarding ATMs, a slim majority is actually opposed to ATMs. However, the council majority is actually opposed to the wording of Mukilteo Initiative No. 2 because some believe it’s too strong and doesn’t allow the city the flexibility to implement ATMs in a positive way, like controlling speeders in school zones.

The position of the council majority is somewhat explained by the fact that the Statement Against committee consists of the mayor and two council members.

Not surprisingly, I’m in the minority and am fully supportive of Initiative No. 2 for good reasons.

You may recall that the council vote to go ahead with the cameras at the SR-525/Harbour Point Blvd. intersection and the Olympic View Middle School school zone on SR-525 was a 3 to 3 tie, with the mayor breaking the tie in favor of installing the cameras.

When the vote was taken, I was in Southern California, proudly attending my son’s college graduation. My vote would have been the other way in part because the school zone ATM idea, justification and supporting data had never come before the council or any council committee prior to it being approved that evening.

Immediately upon my return, I attempted to get the council to reconsider the vote, and they eventually did, but only after Initiative No. 2 had already been written and collected the required number of signatures to qualify for the ballot.

It’s only now, five months later, that we’re even getting around to discussing alternative solutions of which there are many.

My prediction: Initiative No. 2 will pass with flying colors (and then an attempt will be made to invalidate the results using the argument that the Initiative process doesn’t apply to the regulation of ATMs).

The annexation advisory vote (Proposition 2) was approved by the council to find out how Mukilteo voters feel about the city’s plan to annex areas to the south and increasing the city’s population by around 50 percent.

This one is a slam dunk regarding how the council majority feels about annexation; they are in favor of it.  Again, the fact that two council members are on the Statement For committee is an indication that the council majority favors annexation.

I’m opposed to the current annexation plan but not opposed to annexation. Most annexation advocates can’t seem to relate to my opposition of the current plan, so for the sake of argument, let’s just say Kevin is opposed to annexation.

It seems obvious to me that more Mukilteo residents oppose annexation than favor it. I think most council members also believe this.  So, the question becomes, why would the council approve an advisory vote asking Mukilteo voters how they feel about annexation when the council majority is in favor of moving forward?

One reason is that an advisory vote is only advisory and the council doesn’t have to take that advice. Especially if there is information available to the council indicating that annexation is in the city’s best interest.

That information is available, but there’s also risk that could adversely impact the quality of life of our current residents. That risk shouldn’t be dismissed so easily.

After almost five years on the council, and having lived through the Rosehill advisory vote and the consequences, I think I’ve got it figured out.

It’s actually very simple, although I didn’t get it until it was later explained to me by a disinterested third party like this: “If you give someone the choice of a new car or a used car, and either way it won’t cost them anything, they’ll always choose the new car.

“If you ask the voters whether they’d like a new community center or a renovated community center, and they won’t have to pay additional taxes, most will chose a new community center.”

Annexation: If you know the majority of a Yes/No vote on annexation will vote No and you want them to vote Yes, give them another choice, “No Opinion.”

The majority of Mukilteo voters don’t have the time to wrestle with the annexation debate, so will choose the No Opinion option. I hope I’m wrong on this, but I doubt I am.

My prediction: The No Opinion will prevail thereby clearing the way for the city to move forward with annexation attempt No. 4 (and the argument will be made that we asked our current residents their opinion and they left it in our capable hands).

The preceding feature is published the 2nd Wednesday of each month for The Beacon and is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.


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