Two appointed councilmembers vying to fulfill unexpired terms

Newcomers Steckler, Vignal hope to serve until at least the next general election
By Dan Aznoff | Jul 18, 2019
Courtesy of: City of Mill Creek

There are seven candidates vying for five seats on the Mill Creek City Council on the August primary ballot in their attempts to advance to the general election in November. The unusual number is a result of two resignations in the past year.

Incumbent councilmembers Mike Todd, Mark Bond and Vince Cavaleri each filed to run for reelection to four-year terms on the seven-person council. Todd, Bond, and Cavaleri have served on the council for a combined 33 years.

The primary election is Tuesday, Aug 6, with the general election to fill five positions on the seven-member board is Nov. 5. Bond and Todd are both running unopposed, while Cavaleri will face off against government watchdog Carmen Fisher.

The incumbents and Fisher will be joined on the campaign trail by John Steckler and Stephanie Vignal, who will be on the ballot for the first time. Vignal is running unopposed, while Steckler is being challenged by Mill Creek business owner Adam Morgan

According to city regulations, the newest members of the council are eligible to run to fulfill the unexpired terms they were chosen to fill. Steckler was appointed to the council in February to replace Sean Kelly.

The other two members of the council—Mayor Pam Pruitt and Mayor Pro Tem Brian Holtzclaw—are in the middle of their current terms.

Steckler is a semi-retired business consultant who believes his skill set will benefit the city as it faces some important financial decisions in the next few years, beginning with funding the required repairs to the underground surface water system.

“In the short time I have served on the council, it has become apparent that being a councilmember means more than attending meetings on most Tuesday nights,” said Steckler. “It has given me the opportunity to give back to the city where my wife (Lisa) and I chose to be our home and raise our family 23 years ago.”

The gregarious councilmember laughed when he remembered a conversation with a friend who asked why he was running for a council seat.

“The city is faced with a financial dilemma to increase revenues while maintaining the quality of life we have all come to love about Mill Creek,” Steckler said. “The answer does not come from our past. There are very few parcels left to develop, and we have pumped up retail as much as we can from the city’s perspective.

“Now is the time to get creative and introduce new ideas to meet our newest set of challenges.”

One idea that Steckler has championed is the creation of a performing arts center in Mill Creek to compete with the successful operations in Edmonds and Everett.

He said there is no reason Mill Creek cannot follow the example set by the city of Issaquah by investing in a venue like Village Theater, which he said has changed that Eastside city in “so many positives ways.”

“We have lots of artists and performers right here in Mill Creek who travel outside the city for cultural activities,” he said. “There is no reason we cannot build a facility that will allow the residents of Mill Creek to showcase their talents and attract visitors from the rest of Snohomish County.”

His plan to add new sources of revenue did not end with a performing arts center.

“Remember, when adults go for the evening, they are not just coming to see a play and going home. Odds are they will come early to have dinner and stay later to meet friends for a drink or dessert.”

The energetic Steckler admitted his plan is years away from reality.

“I would love to be that guy who comes up with the next big idea, like Town Center. It has become so much more than a commercial area to shop. Town Center has become the cultural heart of this town.”

Steckler is being opposed by Morgan in the race for Position No. 1. Morgan has lived in Mill Creek five years.

“The change I want to bring to Mill Creek is to keep everything the same,” Morgan said. “There is very little usable land left to develop. We need to stay away from ‘upzoning’ that will increase the number of apartments allowed in the city.”

Morgan said he is opposed to the city’s approval for the mixed-use development of the 17-acre parcel that will become The Farm.

“We would have better off with more commercial development and not the addition of more than 300 apartments,” he said. ”I am opposed to a utility tax, but we need to find way to generate more revenue so Mill Creek can remain the same city for my son as it has been for me.”

Vignal, who chose the parks and trails in Mill Creek when her family relocated from North Carolina four years ago, pledged to use her position on the council to protect the parks and green spaces in the city and work to expand recreational opportunities for families.

The mother of a 5-year-old said she is pleased with the current course the city has plotted, as well as her role on the committee that has been tasked with beautification of the entrance to the city along  Mill Creek Boulevard.

Vignal was appointed to fill the vacancy on the council created by the election of Jared Mead to the state assembly in Olympia. The responsibilities she has been given, said Vignal, were a surprise to her after serving on the city’s Parks and Recreation board.

“I was thrilled to be part of the discussion—and possible solution – in the study for more affordable housing in Snohomish County,” said Vignal.

She said she also hopes to add to the cultural offerings available to residents of the city, starting with an effort to expand the Mill Creek Library on Bothell-Everett Highway.

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