Familiar faces will dominate City Council ballot

All the usual suspects (plus one) have filed to fill five available positions
By Dan Aznoff | May 17, 2019

Five incumbents and one extremely active member of the community who has been the ballot before have all filed to run for the five positions on the Mill Creek City Council to be decided by voters this fall.

As of Thursday, May 16, all six had filed their paperwork with the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office. The deadline for applications was Friday, May 17, at 5 p.m. The primary election is scheduled Aug. 6. The general election is Nov. 5.

Three of the current councilmembers are running for reelection. The two who were appointed in the past year will be running to fill the unexpired terms they were appointed to fill. The only non-incumbent has been involved in city politics for more than two years.

The familiar faces will be joined by a business owner who is new to city politics.

Incumbents Mike Todd, Mark Bond and Vince Cavaleri have a combined 33 years of experience as councilmembers.

Todd began his involvement shortly after moving to Mill Creek in 1983, when he participated in the acquisition of more fields for soccer clubs.  He was selected to fill a midterm vacancy in 2005 after serving on the Parks Board, and served two terms as mayor between 2010 and 2014.

Todd continues to serve on the Puget Sound Regional Council, as well as the boards for Community Transit and the North Puget Sound Soccer League.

“I have filed for reelection to provide continuity with our past as we re-form our council/manager leadership team,” Todd said in a written statement.  “I am anxious to continue to provide my established connections with the regional bodies that affect Mill Creek's quality of life."

The longtime councilmember expressed excitement with the direction the city has taken in the past year.

"I am excited to work with our new city manager on executing important projects and planning for issues facing our city and region.”

Bond has the longest tenure of any current member of the council, winning a seat on the seven-person governing board in 2004 after serving as an officer with the Mill Creek Police Department for 11 years until 2001. Bond has been a deputy sheriff with Snohomish County for the past 11 years.

He credits his passion for public safety as the guide for his decisions to assure the health and prosperity of his community.

Bond declined an opportunity to be quoted in this article.


Promise keeper

Like his colleague on the council, Cavaleri also serves the citizens of Snohomish County as a uniformed officer with the Sheriff’s Department. He moved to the Webster’s Pond neighborhood in 2004 shortly after joining the department.

Cavaleri was first appointed to fill an unexpired term on the council in 2015, later winning a full four-year term in the general election later that same year.

He said he is proud of his promise to keep citizens safe without infringing on their civil liberties. Cavaleri serves as the council’s liaison to the parks and recreation board as an advocate for maintaining open spaces and adding to acreage to the city’s diverse array of parks.

The native of New York remains a diehard fan of the Yankees, but his heart, he said, belongs to Mill Creek. He is determined to follow through with the promises he made to voters four years ago.

“We have been able to (follow through) with a permanent fix for 35th Avenue SE, Exploration Park and the new home for the senior center,” the councilmember told the Beacon. “I hope to play a role in the challenge that new growth brings with it to our city. New growth is needs to be managed. I hope to play a key role in that process.

“Public service – whether it is in uniform or in the City Council chambers – has always been and will continue to be an honor for me.”

Cavaleri will be challenged for Position No. 5 on the council by Carmen Fisher, who will be making her third attempt to be elected by the voters. In her own estimation, she has placed her name into consideration for seat on the Mill Creek City Council no less than five times.

Despite not being elected or appointed, Fisher has remained involved with the city. She has attended virtually every council meeting for the past two years, and was relied upon to lead questioning during the citizen roundtable portion of the search for a new city manager.

She was also a member of the 2018 Mill Creek Citizen’s Police Academy. Fisher also declined to comment on the record about the upcoming election.


Short terms

John Steckler and Stephanie Vignal were each appointed to their respective seats on City Council to fill vacancies created by resignations. Both have filed to run for the two years remaining on the unexpired terms.

The semiretired Steckler was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Sean Kelly, who was forced to resign his position shortly after being reelected to a second term. Kelly eventually acknowledged that he had moved his primary residence from Mill Creek to Snohomish.

Steckler admitted to being energized by his first campaign.

“I am excited to begin the election process, and I am looking forward to meeting as many Mill Creek citizens as possible to learn about their hopes, their thoughts and their concerns,” Steckler told The Beacon.

Steckler moved his family to Mill Creek almost a quarter century ago when he and his wife “fell in love with the neighborhoods as a place to raise our children.”

His involvement with municipal politics comes after decades of volunteer work with the schools and local scouting organizations. Steckler is a longtime member of Rotary Club, and was a founding member of the Kiwanis Club formed in Mill Creek in 2018.

As a freelance consultant to businesses, the councilmember said Mill Creek is prepared to foster strategic the growth for a variety of professional and consulting companies.

“We are well positioned for the next wave of growth in business,” said Steckler with his patented smile. “These companies will add revenue to the city without harm to our environment.”

Steckler will be challenged by Adam Morgan, ho sought out Mill Creek as a place to live five years ago to provide a better life for his son. He describes his Mill Creek-based business Porchlight Homes as a hybrid Realtor and construction firm.

His decision to take on the sitting councilmember was based on the fact the incumbent was appointed, and not elected. He hopes that having his name on the ballot wil be good for his business.

“There are two councilmembers who were appointed,” he said. “I knew I wanted to run against one of them to give the people of Mill Creek the opportunity to have an elected member of the council represent the interests of homeowners.”

Green spaces
Vignal became involved in civic affairs as a member of the Parks Board shortly after moving to Mill Creek four years ago, she said, to “maintain the community that attracted us to move here in the first place.”

She was appointed to the council to fill the unexpired term of Jared Mead, who was elected to serve residents of the 44th Legislative District in the state house in Olympia.

“I am really here to protect the green spaces and the trails that brought us to Mill Creek,” she said. “We must work to ensure that our city maintains its business-friendly environment and continues to balance the budget.

She plans to knock on doors throughout the city with her daughter, Cora, by her side.

“Cora loves talking to people,” she said. “We want to meet as many people as we can and hear what they really want … and what they need from their city.”

Vignal earned a degree in public administration and worked previously as a property manager.

“As an elected representative of the people, we must all remember that this is not about the members of the council. It’s all about doing what is right for the people of our community.”

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