Better late than never
Kudos to Mukilteo City Council for its unanimous decision to put the much-debated annexation issue on the Nov. 3 ballot, not just for those in the potential annexation area but also as an advisory vote for Mukilteo residents themselves.
Kudos to both city staff and elected officials for finally holding open houses for current residents like the ones theyve held for those hoping to be annexed.
Inexplicably, state law prohibits those in the current city footprint from having a say on the ballot about who joins their city.
But for Mukilteans this is more about what not who comes in. Current residents are impacted every bit as much as those potentially being annexed; therefore they deserve a voice in the outcome.
They now have that voice in the form of the upcoming advisory vote. Just like the Rosehill ballot measure, though, the council can choose to follow the will of the Mukilteo voters or simply ignore it. We hope wisdom prevails once again and our representatives honor our wishes, regardless of their personal opinions.
Over the past couple of years the city has held several open houses for potential residents and, up until July, offered no such opportunity to those already inside its borders. That oversight was finally corrected when it hosted forums for residents on July 21 and 28, with elected officials and department heads on hand to answer questions.
There have been a lot of angry words, hurt feelings and misunderstanding between the two populations. Mukilteans resented their lack of input up until now and residents of the annexation area feel snubbed, as if they werent welcome in our city.
Fortunately, all that seems to be behind us. Now the folks in present Mukilteo and future (maybe) Mukilteo are taking a hard look at the many impacts, both positive and negative, of increasing our population by more than 50 percent.
While it hasnt always been clear in the emotionally charged testimony at council meetings or in numerous letters to the editor, this has never been about snobbery or feelings of superiority. Rather, our citizens and those in the potential annexation area are considering the financial implications and the significant differences between Mukilteos and unincorporated Snohomish Countys approaches to development.
Even more importantly, its about the impact on both populations in crucial public safety areas such as police coverage, fire and EMS, and maintaining/repairing infrastructure. Any snafus in the transition will adversely impact those on both sides of the current border, and both groups need to pay close attention to how its done.
Some council members fear the advisory vote could be confusing. Were not sure how, as both sets of voters will answer the same question yes or no to annexation?
Others are concerned about how to proceed should the vote be essentially split, with one area in favor and the other against. Why would we want an electoral college rather than a popular vote? Why not simply count the total number of votes for and against, regardless of where they originate from, when making the final decision?
After all, neither ballot measure assures annexation will happen; even if both groups approve it, the council has the final say.
But with the recent outreach to Mukilteo residents, the city is definitely on the right track.