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Marysville candidates face off at forums

MARYSVILLE — Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring and his challenger, Kelly Wright, argued over many of the same issues during two separate debates, as the candidates for the contested Marysville City Council races were able to introduce themselves to the community.

At the Oct. 19 “OUR Marysville” mayoral candidates forum and the Oct. 21 Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce mayoral and City Council candidates forum, Wright returned repeatedly to the issues of the Marysville annexation, proposed overpasses across I-5 and how much the city spent on the Coca-Cola bottling plant.

While Wright did not object to the annexation itself, he took issue with how it was carried out by Nehring and his fellow City Council members, without a public vote.

“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” Wright said, after acknowledging that the Council’s actions on the annexation were legal.

Wright and Nehring likewise disagreed about the 156th Street overcrossing, which Nehring believes can be turned into an interchange that will enhance the north Marysville area’s attractiveness to light industrial and manufacturing businesses, while Wright dismissed this as an unlikely outcome that has raised taxes within the Local Improvement District.

“It’s a public-private partnership,” Nehring said of the LID. “The property owners came to us.”

By contrast, Wright proposed a cloverleaf interchange at the intersection of Fourth Street and I-5, which Nehring asserted would wipe out the surrounding businesses. When Nehring offered his proposal for adding one lane on each side of the underpass that already connects Fourth Street to I-5, Wright claimed that area businesses are already being wiped out by the two existing nearby Walmart stores — one in Tulalip and the other in Smokey Point — as well as the third that’s set to be built in east Marysville.

“All we’re doing is making it easier for people to shop somewhere else,” Wright said.

The Coke bottling plant became the subject of an especially extended exchange between Wright and Nehring on Oct. 19. Nehring explained that the city bought the property for $3.7 million and sold the building on site for $2.3 million, with property still left over. Wright countered by contending that the city paid more than the market value for the property and still stands little chance of selling the remaining property for its market value, which would make it a net loss.

“We would not accept less than breaking even,” Nehring said. “That building is back in the business tax rolls.”

Perhaps the most controversial remarks during either of the two candidates forums came on Oct. 19 from Jeri-Lynn Shumate, a former coworker of Nehring’s in the private sector, who accused him of unethical dealings as a salesperson for Idearc. According to Nehring, he was fighting the unethical practices of his former employers, an account which was seconded by another of Nehring’s former coworkers, Karla Thompson. Gary Wright finally called for the forum to return to hearing from the candidates themselves.

On Oct. 21, Business Before Hours attendees also heard from the candidates for Marysville City Council positions 5 and 6, neither of which have incumbents running.

For Position 5, Roy Toyer touted his 30 years of history in Marysville, with experiences in economic development and a vested interest in preserving the city’s quality of life by bringing jobs to the area and supporting its police and fire services.

“We have to prioritize our budget, in what we spend and what we cut,” Toyer said. “It’s important that we live in a community that feels safe.”

Scott Allen, Toyer’s opponent, recalled how he first came to Marysville from Silvana in 1966 and graduated from Marysville High School, and while he spent a number of years away, he marked his return to town by joining the Kiwanis and Masons.

“My family taught me that volunteerism is number-one,” said Allen, who echoed Toyer’s calls to bring manufacturing jobs to town and to properly fund its police force. “This is my home and I like serving it.”

For Position 6, Steve Muller cited not only the number of endorsements he’s received, but also the list of positions he’s held with the city and in the community, from his time on the Planning Commission to his involvement in the school bond oversight committee.

“We got a new high school, under budget and on time,” Muller said. “I like Roger,” he added, referring to his opponent, Roger Hoen, “but I’ve dedicated my life to this community.”

Hoen pointed to his own endorsement, from the Daily Herald, as well as his 30 years as a food and beverage contractor as evidence of his management-level leadership skills.

“I handled millions of dollars,” said Hoen, who suggested a process of rotating reviews to track the progress of city departments and effect greater efficiency in the city’s operations.

 

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