John Steckler selected to fill vacant council seat

Semi-retired businessman chosen from pool of 16 applicants
By Dan Aznoff | Feb 15, 2018

It took three hours of interviews and six ballots before members of the Mill Creek City Council were ready to extend an invitation to 22-year resident John Steckler to fill the vacant seventh seat on the city’s governing board.

Steckler survived the fast-paced questions from councilmembers that looked more like a session of speed dating than a formal government selection process on Tuesday, Feb. 6. The evening ended with him being sworn into office by City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto more than three hours after the process began.

“This city has given me and my family so much, I figured that now was the time for me to start giving back,” Steckler told The Beacon shortly after the final vote. “We will continue to grow, and I am excited with the prospect of playing a role in determining the future of the city I am proud to call my home.”

Steckler’s term will extend until the city’s next election in November of 2019 is certified. He is eligible to run for the balance of the four-year term.

The semi-retired businessman has been a member of the Rotary Club in Mill Creek for more than 20 years, and became a charter member of the Mill Creek Kiwanis last fall. He and his wife, Lisa, moved into the Parkside community in 1996, and then into a home in the Evergreen subdivision seven years ago.

The couple’s two sons (Christopher and Jeremy) attended Mill Creek Elementary, Heatherwood Middle School and Jackson High, where Steckler served on the booster organization, and built relationships with teachers and staff at the high school.

Steckler had a lengthy career in sales, marketing and operations across several industries including bio-tech, healthcare and insurance. He claims to be semi-retired, but continues to provide freelance consulting work in strategic planning and marketing for small- and mid-sized companies.

The newest member of the council detailed his vision for a performance venue in Mill Creek for the council that would enhance the lives of its residents and attract tax revenue in the form of tourism dollars.

Councilmember Mike Todd praised Steckler for his understanding that the laws enacted by the council will have an impact on the city in 10 and 20 years.

Steckler pleaded his case during the interview portion of the selection process, explaining that he has seen Mill Creek grow over the past two decades from a planned community into the desirable city it is today.

“I would like to be in a position to assist in that continued development,” he said.

Members of the council adjourned into an executive session following the marathon interview stage of the evening, returning to nominate three finalists to set up another vote. The next round of balloting eliminated Stephanie Vignal, which set up a final vote between Steckler and Planning Commissioner Dennis Teschlog.

“We have two exceptional contenders here,” Councilmember Vince Cavaleri told his collages. “We could throw them both up into the air and choose whoever hits the ground first.”

Cavaleri was the last person appointed to the council to fill a vacancy. He was selected from a field of seven applicants in 2015 and elected to a four-year term in November of the same year.

Mayor Pam Pruitt agreed with Cavaleri’s viewpoint, adding, “We have two amazing candidates, and will be well served regardless of who we choose”

Jared Mead had a different perspective. The newest member of the council was the only vote for Vignal on the ballot that eliminated the former property manager.

“The three finalists could have all made good members of the council, but to think that the final two are equal is simply not true,” he said with an apology to his former colleague on the Planning Commission. “Dennis, you are my friend. But John Stickler is the best choice for the council at this time.”

The fourth and fifth rounds of voting ended in a 3-3 tie between the two contenders. The deadlock was finally broken on the sixth ballot when Councilmember Mark Bond switched his vote to the eventual winner.

The vacancy that made room for Steckler on the council was created last year when a Snohomish County Superior Court judge ruled that Sean Kelly was not qualified to serve on the council after he moved out of the city in July. Kelly was re-elected in November with 72 percent of the vote.

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