Marysville Mayor Kendall looks back at time as mayor

Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall spoke of the importance of preplanning for developing areas like Marysville’s waterfront for future growth. - Kirk Boxleitner
Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall spoke of the importance of preplanning for developing areas like Marysville’s waterfront for future growth.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — While Dennis Kendall is loath to point to any one event or circumstance that inspired him to resign as mayor of Marysville, he acknowledged that a recent painful loss played a significant part in it.

“The Friday before Marysville’s Relay For Life this year, I received word that my brother had passed away from cancer,” Kendall said. “That Saturday at the Relay For Life, it hit me as I was on stage in front of a thousand people, talking about those who have passed on, and I started bawling. It was quick for him — he died something like four weeks after being diagnosed — and it made me realize that life is short, and I’m not getting any younger. It might look weird or stupid, but I’ve got a family and a life outside the city which I’d like to take advantage of and enjoy while I can. In my gut, it was time to say goodbye.”

Kendall still plans to stay part of the Marysville community, but he intends to take things at his own pace from now on. He’ll remain active in the United Way and Senior Services of Snohomish County, and has volunteered to help out the incoming mayor, Jon Nehring, when he can, but he’ll also be working on his golf handicap, spending more time at his property in Arizona and traveling with his wife, Sue.

“I don’t want to have that commitment to be at City Hall every Monday night, but I don’t want it to be a burden for someone else if I’m not there,” Kendall said. “This way, we can take off when we feel like it. When I spoke with Sue, we decided that she needs to have her things, I need to have my things, and we need to have our things together.”

One of Kendall’s things will be possible campaigning for other elected officials once he becomes a private citizen himself. He’s already volunteered his services to state Sen. Steve Hobbs, state Representatives Mike Sells and John McCoy, and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.

Before announcing his resignation at the June 28 City Council meeting, Kendall met individually with each of the City Council members and city department directors to discuss his decision with them. While he was surprised that the Council voted so quickly to appoint his successor during that same meeting, he praised Nehring for the role he’s already played alongside his fellow Council members, in helping steer Marysville in a direction that Kendall sees as positive for its future.

“Jon really spearheaded a lot of the policies that I kind of took credit for as mayor,” Kendall said. “By making the appropriate decision, this Council has made my job extra easy.”

Kendall expects that interviews for Nehring’s replacement on the Council will begin in September, after the Council’s month-long break in meetings during August, and he anticipated that the Council could vote to appoint his successor during the same meeting that they conduct the applicants’ interviews.

As Kendall looks back on his seven-year tenure as mayor, he summed up his two biggest and most enjoyable challenges as the city’s attempts to secure the NASCAR and college sites.

“We entered into both of those as total unknowns and fought our way to the top,” Kendall said. “It took a lot of courage to say no to the NASCAR deal at the end, but we couldn’t do that to the taxpayers. In both cases, those negotiations were learning processes for the city staff. If they’d been sent to school for years, they wouldn’t have gained the same experience with attorneys, accountants and corporations. I’d been in private industry, but nothing like this.”

Kendall also credited the NASCAR process with facilitating the later annexation of approximately 800 acres in the north end into the city limits, and while the economic downturn has postponed plans to use that area to bring jobs to the city, Kendall expressed confidence that it will eventually pay off.

“I wanted Marysville to be a city where people could live, work, play and shop,” Kendall said. “Every job we bring to town takes two trips per day off the freeway. It’s still part of our master plan. We’re planning for the waterfront to accommodate multiple uses, with businesses and walkability, and Whiskey Ridge is planned as a retail zone with residential housing. These aren’t things that are going to happen today or tomorrow, but in 5-10 years, and you need plans to make sure that you have the water and sewer capacity, and that you can upgrade the infrastructure, in order to do them. With growth, it will happen.”

Kendall encouraged the city’s citizens to get involved in their local government, by attending City Council and committee meetings and contributing their input to the process.

“Don’t be afraid to help out the community,” Kendall said. “This is your community, and this is still my community. I have two children and two grandchildren who live here. Our grandson, who we’ve raised for the past 11 years, graduated high school from here this year. I want to see this city continue its commitment to quality of life, on the foundations I helped to lay.”

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