Attending candidate forums both a privilege, responsibility | Chamber Corner

By Kim Voetberg | Sep 27, 2017

An article by Pew Research Center recently noted that, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, less than 56 percent of voting age citizens actually voted in the 2016 presidential election.

The Bureau estimates that of the 245.5 million Americans who were eligible to vote, only 157.6 million ultimately did so.

There are mandatory voting laws in more than two-dozen countries, and some would argue that it is every citizen’s civic duty to enter the process and enact change through the mechanism of voting. They go on to say that votes reflect the “will of the people” and that policy is not formed and ratified through special interests.

On the flipside, should compulsory voting really be instituted? Whatever happened to free will and living in a society that does not force compliance of issues so important as voting? What level of standards must we meet in order to ensure our freedom as U.S. citizens?

All these facts and figures are interesting, and do give us food for thought, but at the end of the day we decide if our right to vote is a privilege or a responsibility. Or both.

From 6-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, and Wednesday, Oct. 25, respectively, the Mukilteo Chamber will present the Council Candidate Forum and the Mayoral Debate, both at Rosehill Community Center.

On the first evening, Oct. 18, six contenders for three council positions means we’re in for an active, energetic debate on local issues, how to balance the budget and why each candidate is running for office. The next week, newcomer Dan Matthews will be challenging seated Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

The format will be consistent with each candidate running for a position being asked to answer the same question. However, all candidates may not be asked the same question. All candidates may be asked to give an opinion on some questions. Attendees may submit questions and representatives from the Chamber will review the questions for content, then relay them to the moderator for possible inquiry.

Residents are strongly encouraged to attend, find out who is running and what their positions are. There are important issues facing Mukilteo, both now and in the future.

As a business community, it is crucial that we have councilors who are making economically sound decisions regarding commercial growth and viability in our area. As a resident, our councilors represent us on a local level, and it is important that they be responsive to us as constituents.

In Position 1, James Yoo and Anna Rohrbough will face off for the first time. In Position 2, Peter Zieve is challenging incumbent Bob Champion, and Position 3 has Tony Markey and Sarah Kneller in the running.

Candidates bring strengths and ideas to the table. Each has a platform upon which he or she feels will add depth to the council or mayor’s office. We then should thoughtfully and carefully study the issues that our city faces, balance out the personalities and characteristics that make up the governing body of Mukilteo, and make an informed choice.

We are tasked with and encouraged to scrutinize these candidates’ positions and actions so that as a community we are skillfully and competently represented. It’s our privilege – and responsibility. Let’s cast a vote.


Kim Voetberg is the marketing and communications director for the Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 425-347-1456 or write to her at For more on the Chamber of Commerce, go to

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