Elections

Marysville City Council candidates answer questions from The Marysville Globe

Marysville City Council candidates - Courtesy photos
Marysville City Council candidates
— image credit: Courtesy photos

The Marysville Globe sent five questions to each of the candidates running for the Marysville City Council.

Council Position 1

Incumbent Jeffrey Vaughan is running unopposed for Position 1.

1. Explain at least one step that can be taken to balance preserving a small-town feel with fostering economic growth.

Vaughan: A few things I find appealing about small towns include adequate parks and play fields, local dining and shopping establishments and a unique community identity. The most important step to take in ensuring that important elements like these are properly addressed is through a well thought out comprehensive planning strategy. I am pleased to say that during my time on the city council, our city has taken the important steps in master planning key areas to prevent unbridled growth and to guide the development of commercial centers, job centers, parks and neighborhoods.

2. Name the one city program that should receive the fewest, if any, budget cuts, and explain your reasons.

Vaughan: I do not believe that any city program should be immune from budget scrutiny. Our current economic challenges require that every city program run as lean as possible. However, a vital role of our local government is to safeguard citizens. Since I first took the oath of office nearly six years ago, I have supported budgets that give our police department and fire district the appropriate level of funding necessary to protect citizens. In these challenging economic times I will continue to support appropriate funding for these vital city services.

3. Marysville is often referred to as a "bedroom community" largely dependent on sales tax revenues. Is this perception accurate, and if so, does this situation need to be corrected, and how?

Vaughan: Marysville has long been viewed as a bedroom community, but the reality is that through our economic development efforts, this is changing. Not many years ago, our sales tax revenues were lagging other cities our size, leaving the city with an inordinate dependence on property taxes. Thanks to the vision of our mayor and City Council more people now shop and dine here in Marysville than at any other time in our history. City sales tax revenues have increased tremendously since I have been in office. We are in the second phase of our economic development effort to create more local job opportunities.

4. Name the one city program that can afford to receive the most budget cuts, and explain your reasons.

Vaughan: In my opinion there is not any one city program that can be cut enough to make up for this year's revenue shortfall. It will require that every department run as lean as possible. Our city staff have been evaluating their operations and we know that there will be some things that we simply cannot do anymore. I am confident that our upcoming budget process will be productive in terms of achieving our objectives of trimming our budget and using scarce resources in the most efficient and appropriate way possible.

5. If you're a challenger, what qualifications are most applicable to this office? If you're an incumbent, what accomplishments are you proudest of achieving in office?

Vaughan: My number one issue when I ran for office six years ago was relieving traffic congestion. While there is still much work to be done, it is pleasing to see our progress in decreasing congestion and making it easier to get around our city. This would not have been possible without my other priority of promoting economic development. By bringing new businesses to Marysville, we've had the increased revenue to support new transportation projects. Lastly, I'm pleased with our progress in reducing graffiti. This year alone we have had a 78 percent decrease in graffiti vandalism.

Council Position 2

Incumbent Donna Wright is running against challenger Quinn King for Position 2.

1. Explain at least one step that can be taken to balance preserving a small-town feel with fostering economic growth.

Wright: It is important for city government (elected officials and staff) to listen to its citizens and respond to their concerns in a respectful and timely manner that instills confidence that their city government cares about their problems and ideas on a personal "small town" level. Supporting and facilitating community events and activities builds a stronger community. By not enacting business and occupation taxes and excessive fees nor onerous regulations, it enables small businesses to stay in business and makes it easier for larger businesses and industry to be competitive and provide good jobs.

King: We can foster economic growth by encouraging and supporting small businesses in Marysville. Small businesses are the backbone of Marysville and always will be. We have set up the Big Box stores for success, now we need to pay attention to the core of the city. This will preserve our "small-town" feel, while fostering great economic development.

2. Name the one city program that should receive the fewest, if any, budget cuts, and explain your reasons.

Wright: Public safety. This area has always been at the top of my list for city responsibility to provide for the safety of our citizens. Police and fire/emergency medical departments in Marysville are well trained and dedicated to serving the public and it is important they have the tools and equipment needed, as well as adequate personnel. As our city expands our city limits and increases the population, we recognize the need to expand the departments to keep us safe.

King: This is an obvious answer — public safety. One of government's greatest priorities is the safety of its citizens. Cutting from this department would be extremely detrimental to the public welfare. While any department is going to be hurt, and have a lessened level of service, the one that would definitely hurt our community is public safety.

3. Marysville is often referred to as a "bedroom community" largely dependent on sales tax revenues. Is this perception accurate, and if so, does this situation need to be corrected, and how?

Wright: Marysville has in the past been referred to as a bedroom community because many people lived here but worked and shopped elsewhere. Marysville currently is able to offer a variety of shopping choices and employment. With the increase in retail sales tax received by the city, the council has voted to not increase property tax which voters had given cities authority to increase property tax 1 percent per year without a vote of the people. The city is working to enable business to expand and create more jobs as well as attract more businesses resulting in more jobs.

King: Marysville, at least for the near future, will always be a bedroom community as we are in the shadow of Boeing, the county's largest employer. However, the perception of a sales tax dependent revenue source is completely false. Even with the almost double in sales tax revenue, property tax is still the primary source of revenue for the city — that is, other than the loans they've taken. I think more needs to be done to create family wage jobs, that will move Marysville from a bedroom community to a place to live, work and play.

4. Name the one city program that can afford to receive the most budget cuts, and explain your reasons.

Wright: If a program had to be cut, due to budgetary constraints, I would prioritize the essential services cities must provide, with the advice of the city administrator, finance director and all department heads. Quality of life for our citizens is in the forefront of all decisions.

King: The Executive Department needs to reign in its spending. Too much money is being spent on nice, fat raises to the Mayor and his city administrator, while the rest of the staff is made to pay with layoffs and budget cuts. I'd like to see our city leaders actually LEAD by example.

5. If you're a challenger, what qualifications are most applicable to this office? If you're an incumbent, what accomplishments are you proudest of achieving in office?

Wright: "Committed to Our City" is more than a slogan. I am proud of the 18 years as a Council member (four years as mayor pro tem) I served, and I believe I offer experience and leadership. I arranged for the acquisition of a portable movie screen for the "Popcorn in the Park" during the past two summers, when free movies were shown in parks throughout the city, which were well attended. Since 2002 there have been eight new parks constructed or acquired and there is planning for more. As chair of the Marysville Fire Board, a new fire station opened on 71st Avenue and will move into a new administration location at Cedar and Grove soon.

King: Being the challenger for this office, I feel I bring a fresh perspective to city government. I think the people we have there now, while doing an alright job, have forgotten to listen to the citizens they are supposed to represent. This happens at all levels of government. I feel I have a great deal of experience with communication with the people around me, and will be able to use this to represent the citizens of Marysville. Furthermore, in my line of work, I'm able to make split second, life and death decisions, so using a strong thought process comes as habit to me.

Council Position 3

Incumbent Jeff Seibert is running against challenger Patrick Larson Jr. for Position 3.

1. Explain at least one step that can be taken to balance preserving a small-town feel with fostering economic growth.

Seibert: I believe that community orientated events, like Homegrown, Concerts in the Park, Popcorn in the Park and Healthy Communities, will help preserve Marysville's small-town feel.

Larson: We can preserve the small-town feel of Marysville and at the same time foster economic growth by the city of Marysville standing behind our small businesses. Some of our strip mall signage is looking worn. The current city government has done a lot to bring in "Big Box" stores. We should be doing so with our small businesses as well.

2. Name the one city program that should receive the fewest, if any, budget cuts, and explain your reasons.

Seibert: Public safety is government's first priority. The fire and police budgets must be maintained at levels that will provide the highest levels of service to our community.

Larson: The city program that should receive the fewest budgetary cuts would be public safety in general or as a conglomerate. With the city growing, we cannot afford to have budgetary constraints on our police, fire and emergency response personnel effect the services we receive as citizens.

3. Marysville is often referred to as a "bedroom community" largely dependent on sales tax revenues. Is this perception accurate, and if so, does this situation need to be corrected, and how?

Seibert: Marysville is a "bedroom community" that was largely dependent on property tax revenue. In 2003 the City Council established a goal of economic development to become less dependent on property taxes by attracting commercial and retail businesses for jobs and revenues, then using the additional revenue to improve infrastructure. The second phase is to use the improved infrastructure to attract industrial and manufacturing businesses to provide local family wage jobs. With a large regional employer like Boeing, Marysville will always have residents that work outside of our community.

Larson: I feel this perception is not true. The city of Marysville brings in more from property taxes then sales taxes. Also, Marysville is a working city. A lot of us both live, work and play here in the community.

4. Name the one city program that can afford to receive the most budget cuts, and explain your reasons.

Seibert: With the downturn in the economy we have adjusted the city's budget. At this time I do not believe there are any departments that can "afford" more cuts. However, if the revenues continue to decline, delaying or canceling capital projects (city facilities) would be the first area where I would look for additional budget reductions.

Larson: The executive sector of our current city government should receive a cut. At the same time our mayor is asking for a raise, they are laying off city employees. Wow.

5. If you're a challenger, what qualifications are most applicable to this office? If you're an incumbent, what accomplishments are you proudest of achieving in office?

Seibert: I am most proud of working with other City Council members to establish a fiscally responsible policy that provided for improvements to our community without raising property taxes. We have added over 90 acres of parks, including Ebey Waterfront Park, Marysville Skate Park and Strawberry Fields. Transportation improvements since 2002 include 116th Street from I-5 to State Avenue, State Avenue from Ebey Slough to Grove Street, State Avenue from 116th Street to 136th Street, and soon to be completed State Avenue from 136th Street to 152nd Street.

Larson: We have seen how the current city government operates, and some disliked maneuvers — i.e. forced annexation and raising taxes for a nonsense Civic Center. We've witnessed rubber stamping. I, as the challenger, bring some new tenacity and integrity to the council. We need some fresh ideas on the council, and a rejuvenation of responsibility to the taxpayers.

Council Position 4

Incumbent Jon Nehring is running unopposed for Position 4.

1. Explain at least one step that can be taken to balance preserving a small-town feel with fostering economic growth.

Nehring: One step toward accomplishing this is to ensure that we as a city invest a portion of the tax revenue generated from economic growth towards preserving this "small-town feel" that is important to so many of our citizens. Some examples of such investments are annual city support for the Strawberry Festival, Merrysville For The Holidays, the Homegrown Arts and Crafts Fair, Poochapalooza and other such events which help us to maintain our "small-town feel." Additionally, the development and preservation of parks and ball fields such as Rudy Wright Memorial Little League Field can help accomplish this.

2. Name the one city program that should receive the fewest, if any, budget cuts, and explain your reasons.

Nehring: Public safety, because I believe that this is the primary function of city government. We need to pursue all kinds of great programs and initiatives on behalf of the citizens of Marysville, but if our citizens do not have a safe and secure community to live in we will have ultimately failed them.

3. Marysville is often referred to as a "bedroom community" largely dependent on sales tax revenues. Is this perception accurate, and if so, does this situation need to be corrected, and how?

Nehring: This is accurate to a large extent. I believe that it is a very worthy goal to take steps to try and attract businesses to Marysville that can offer "family-supporting" jobs. This would allow a substantial portion of our citizens to live and work here, freeing up time and resources for them while increasing the diversity and overall strength of our local economy. I would like to see us develop a light commercial/industrial park in the northeast portion of the city.

4. Name the one city program that can afford to receive the most budget cuts, and explain your reasons.

Nehring: The council will start the 2010 budget process within the next few weeks so I would be able to answer this more exactly at that time. With what I know right now, I would say probably "Fleet Services." During difficult economic times we need to delay the purchase of new and replacement city vehicles and try to make do with what we have wherever possible. This is similar to the "family budgeting" decisions that taxpayers are having to make right now as well.

5. If you're a challenger, what qualifications are most applicable to this office? If you're an incumbent, what accomplishments are you proudest of achieving in office?

Nehring: As an incumbent, here is a list of some of our accomplishments that I am proudest of:

• Aggressive economic development offering many new services in Marysville while keeping city taxes low.

• Sound budgeting putting Marysville in a position to weather the current economic difficulties without major disruptions in service.

• Prioritization and support of public safety.

• Forming regional partnerships, leading to some significant accomplishments regarding traffic and other needs.

• Quality of life improvements through many great parks department programs and facilities.

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