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Answers from Mill Creek City Council seat number two candidates

Six questions were posed to each Mill Creek City Council candidate in the August 6,2013 primary election. The three candidates for Mill Creek City Council seat number two are Douglas Carlson, Donna Michelson, and Jason Wingert.

In order to provide voters with information about Mill Creek City Council candidates, six questions were posed to each candidate in the August 6,2013 primary election. The three candidates for Mill Creek City Council seat number two are Douglas Carlson, Donna Michelson, and Jason Wingert.

Ballots for the August 6th primary election will be mailed on July 18, 2013. The 2013 Snohomish County Primary Voter’s Information Pamphlet was mailed on July 17, 2013.

Here are the questions and each seat number two candidate’s answers:

Note – Douglas Carlson is the third candidate for Mill Creek City Council seat number two. Carlson did not respond to emails or a phone call asking for this information about his candidacy until after this article was written. He did submit answers the the questions in the comment following this article.

Question 1: Why did you decide to run for the Mill Creek City Council?

Donna Michelson

I have enjoyed the past 14 years serving this community on the City Council. I have learned a lot during this time. Living in Mill Creek for the past 34 years, I have seen a lot of growth and changes in our city, particularly living here before it became a city.

A little over a year ago, we adopted our city’s first Strategic Plan and I am very proud to have been a part of that process. All of the council worked tirelessly on this.  I would like to be part of the Council that moves forward in implementing this plan.  I believe continuity, knowledge, history and experience will play out as we move forward with this first ever plan.

We also have the East Gateway Urban Village coming to fruition. We have spent a lot of time working to make this last large undeveloped parcel of property in Mill Creek really pay off in the economic development arena. I was around as the Mill Creek Town Center developed and saw a lot of things done right and a few that I believe should be addressed for improvement (i.e. – not enough parking, street issues with truck deliveries, signage restrictions on buildings.) Again, continuity and longevity gives me a “leg up” to do it right.

I think the City is moving in the right direction and I want to continue to be part of that “right direction.”

I also want to continue the free community events I brought to Mill Creek:

  • Document/paper shredding (one coming September 7th),
  • Hazardous waste roundup (working to set one up next year),
  • Free pet micro-chipping, and
  • Electronics recycling event.

Jason Wingert

I have always had a passion to serve and I will bring my business experience to help solve the challenges we face.

Question 2: What qualities do you have that would make you an effective City Councilmember?

Donna Michelson

I have lived here for 34 years.  I am out in the community on a daily basis and have been for the past 20 years. Citizens feel comfortable approaching me with questions or concerns.  I listen to them and take their input into consideration.  I feel I am very much in tune and in touch with what matters to the citizens who live here.

I am open-minded and look to build consensus in order to get things done.

I have always prided myself in studying the issues thoroughly prior to discussions and/or decisions.  However, I always come to Council with an open mind, willing to listen to all sides; staff, public and other Councilmembers.  Whether I agree or disagree with all input, I honestly try to figure out all options and look for ways to compromise so that we can all agree and hopefully obtain consensus.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I make the best decision I can based on the information I have learned and have been presented with.  I make my decisions as a representative of the citizens who voted me in with no other agenda than that.

Jason Wingert

As a citizen and local business leader, I have been listening to the concerns of Mill Creek residents for over ten years. I understand how to solve problems, implement new initiatives, and operate within a budget.

Question 3: In your opinion, what makes Mill Creek a great place to live?

Donna Michelson

That is easy – I believe Mill Creek is the perfect place to live: 

  • The City is safe, comfortable, serene, quiet, walkable, beautiful, and is respectful of the environment thereby maintaining its natural beauty.
  • We have three schools within City limits so residents can send their children from K-12 right here in Mill Creek.  They are wonderful assets.
  • We have a fire department in our city, close for any emergency.
  • Our police department is responsive and available.
  • We are a city but we still have the small town feel.
  • We have the Mill Creek Town Center now, which is enjoyed by everyone.
  • We have wonderful community events that are getting more and more popular.

The best indicator to me is no matter how far away from Mill Creek you have been, whether it be miles or hundreds of miles, the minute you enter Mill Creek, there is a comfortable secure safe presence that envelopes you.  That is priceless.

Jason Wingert

Mill Creek offers safe neighborhoods, clean parks, a walkable community, convenient shopping, local dining and a great sense of community.

Question 4: What are the top three City issues that you would like to see the City Council address?

Donna Michelson

1. Keep working on more economic development with existing businesses and the East Gateway Urban Village.  Make it easy to do business in Mill Creek.  Make it a destination for folks to visit and spend their dollars. Keep on increasing community events; this puts Mill Creek on the map and brings customers to our city.

2. Maintain service levels while controlling costs.  This is an ongoing challenge but one which we continually address.

Our City Manager is looking for ways for staff to become more efficient and effective and I look forward to hearing his ideas.  We already have partnered up with other agencies for efficiencies: SWAT Team, Domestic Violence Advocate, ball fields (potential with Everett School District) and existing just opened Tambark Creek). 

We are also working with Sno-Isle Library System and Target as they work towards a partnership in the East Gateway Urban Village. This could be a revenue enhancer due to critical mass that would be involved if the two of them were to partner.

3. Preservation of our infrastructure. We are 30 years old.  We are no longer a young city enjoying “new things.”

We do not want financial surprises when it comes to pavement.  We need to preserve our pavement to extend its life.  This needs to be done on an ongoing basis before it becomes in need of expensive repairs.

I compare pavement preservation to that of taking care of your teeth; get a filling as you need it before you need an expensive root canal and gold crown!

Jason Wingert

My priorities are a strong police and fire presence to keep our neighborhoods safe, a business friendly environment to help our local economy grow, real fiscal responsibility, which means providing essential city services with low taxes and a great cost effective parks and recreational program.

Question 5: How would you address the City’s current budget issues?

Donna Michelson

Because the council has been prudent and conservative, our city has a savings account called “the reserve.”  I do not plan on tapping into the reserves as this is not a sustainable form of revenue but it is available for the “rainy day.” 

However, because we continue to see an uptick in revenue with an increase in building permits, State Sales Tax and Real Estate Excise Tax dollars, and the City continues to come in below budget on expenditures, I don’t think we are going to have a shortfall. 

I believe with our City Manager working to keep controlling costs and exploring efficiencies we are going to be just fine when it comes to the next budget cycle. 

Short story – our income is coming in higher than expected because we always plan very conservatively on the revenue side and our expenses are coming in lower.

Jason Wingert

We are facing a shortfall in revenues in the coming years. I will focus on attracting new business, merchants and restaurants to the city to reduce the tax burden on our residents.

Question 6: The recently passed State budget reduces the funds it provides to all municipalities including Mill Creek. What steps should the City take to address this shortfall?

Donna Michelson

We have lost approximately $30,000 in liquor tax from the State.  I am confident that with the economy improving we will be able to handle the $30,000 decrease from the State as we work through our budgeting process.

If necessary we can look to save this amount in other places and would defer to our City Manager and staff to bring us recommendations.

Jason Wingert

In addition to bringing new business to Mill Creek, I believe we need to be involved in the State budget process to maintain any shared revenue programs they have with the City.

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Answers from Douglas Carlson

Editor’s note: Douglas Carlson submitted his answers to my questions after the original article was published. Here are his responses:

1. Why did you decide to run for Mill Creek City Council?

Answer: I was interested in lending my time and talents to the community as a way to give back to the community that I love.

2. What qualities do you have that would make you an effective City Councilmember?

Answer: My experience in government service uniquely qualifies me to serve as a city council member. I have devoted my life to community health and government service and I will objectively consider every matter brought before me.

3. In your opinion, what makes Mill Creek a great place to live?

Answer: Mill Creek shares a name with the town Abraham Lincoln's parents and siblings lived and has borrowed the same type of small town feel as it provides residences for engineers, lawyers, doctors, and politicians. I would like to provide services and ammenities that will preserve that kind of environment for the future.

4. What are the top three city issues that you would like to see the City Council address?

Answer: Providing essential services and recreation, ensuring community health and promoting education.

5. How would you address the city’s current budget issues?

Answer: Trimming non-essential services.

6. The recently passed State budget reduces the funds it provides to all municipalities including Mill Creek. What steps should the City take to address this shortfall?

Answer: I would seek additional revenue such as the new utilities tax on entities within city limits. I feel as though structures in Mill Creek that do not incorporate things like solar paneling for power generation into their construction ought to be responsible for providing the funds we need to operate while our town becomes more and more self reliant. 
Some of the new revenue generating initiatives such as I-502 are designed to fund future efforts in emergency medical and law enforcement programs.

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