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When the lines blur between personal, public conduct l Our View


Last updated 12/27/2017 at Noon

In a small town where everybody seemingly knows everybody – and everybody’s business – it’s no surprise that local elections sometimes turn personal and, consequently, unpleasant.

That certainly was true in this year’s City Council and mayoral elections.

The personal attacks enveloped the Council Position 2 race between incumbent Bob Champion and challenger Peter Zieve, and the race for mayor between incumbent Jennifer Gregerson and challenger Dan Matthews.

As is often the case, the candidates themselves usually try to focus on city issues while surrogates or other interested parties dive into the personal. And the mud flies.

In this election, questions were raised about the personal relationship between Mayor Gregerson and Champion, who has been serving as council president.

As some onlookers suggested, the nature of their relationship is nobody’s business. However, their work on behalf of the city is everybody’s business.

We agree on both counts.

The voters spoke, reelecting both Gregerson and Champion. A majority felt they were doing good jobs and deserved to keep them.

We would respectfully suggest, however, that when the council convenes in the New Year, that Champion should not be reelected or, if nominated should decline, to serve another term as the council’s president.

The mayor and council president work closely to develop the weekly council meeting agendas, and otherwise have much power to direct the focus of our city representatives’ work ranging from the budget to city policies and more.

Again, Champion and Gregerson’s personal relationship is their business. It’s the appearance of a possible conflict of interest that matters here.

As we have watched with dismay at the bloodletting on the national level, there’s no denying that public officials more than ever have to conduct themselves with integrity.

Even just the appearance of dishonorable or immoral conduct is ending public servants’ careers.

We have known the mayor and council president to be both honorable and upstanding in their actions on behalf of Mukilteo.

Nevertheless, a simple step that helps eliminate any doubt can go a long way toward keeping the focus on public matters of import without unnecessary questions about personal conduct lingering in the shadows.


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