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Snohomish’s Former Mayor Faces Political Newcomer for City Council Seat

Ex-Snohomish Mayor John Kartak faces off against political newcomer in a pivotal City Council race, shaping the city’s future direction.

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz/Shutterstock

An Ex mayor of Snohomish, John Kartak, seeks a return to local government following a contentious term in office.

The upcoming election in Snohomish, Washington, is highlighting fierce competition for the Position of number one on the City Council. 

In this race, a former mayor named John Kartak is seeking a return to local government after a controversial tenure. At the same time, a political newcomer named Maygen Hetherington is also vying for the same seat. 

Donna Ray, the current officeholder, has decided not to run for re-election, making the race between Kartak and Hetherington a significant factor in shaping the city’s future trajectory.

John Kartak: A Controversial Figure Seeks a Comeback

John Kartak, a 58-year-old, served as the mayor of Snohomish from 2017 to 2021. The mayor’s office experienced a significant change during his term when they implemented the “strong mayor” system. 

In this election, Maygen Hetherington, John Kartak’s opponent, is relatively new to politics, having primarily worked with small businesses and nonprofits.

Kartak’s statement in the voters’ pamphlet highlights his priorities, including essential services, public amenities, law enforcement, infrastructure, recreational areas, and planning services. He strongly emphasizes his commitment to fiscal responsibility, noting that during his term, he significantly improved the city’s financial health, increasing the year-end general fund balance from $2.5 million to nearly $7 million.

However, Kartak’s time as mayor was controversial. In 2020, during the George Floyd protests, there were gatherings of vigilante groups in downtown Snohomish, some of whom were armed and displayed controversial symbols. They claimed to be protecting community establishments from potential incidents, even though such events did not occur. This led to widespread calls for 

Kartak’s resignation in the following weeks and months.

Kartak was previously mayor and ran for state representative in 2020, facing opposition from John Lovick, now a state senator. In his 2021 re-election campaign for mayor, he used the slogan ”Preserve Snohomish’s Character” to emphasize preserving Snohomish’s unique identity.

Kartak’s goal is to refocus the city on essential services, Shifting the city’s attention from partisan politics and what he views as excessive spending. He has expressed his concerns about the city’s financial practices under Mayor Linda Redmon’s leadership since his departure from office.

Maygen Hetherington: A Newcomer with Small Business and Growth Focus

Maygen Hetherington, 41, is a political newcomer in this City Council race. She has a professional background rooted in small businesses and nonprofits. Hetherington is the executive director of the Historic Downtown Snohomish Association. They care about helping small businesses in the city grow and thrive.

Hetherington stands as a staunch supporter of the city’s small businesses. She capitalizes on her extensive background in business consulting to offer them valuable assistance. Her perspective identifies effective management of Snohomish’s growth as the paramount concern.

Over the years, the city’s population has exhibited consistent growth, rising from just over 9,000 residents in 2010 to surpassing 10,150 in 2022. The changing population has sparked lively talks among locals and city officials.

The changing population has sparked discussions among locals and city officials. They are talking about topics such as the allowance of multi-family housing and the creation of affordable housing. They also want to maintain the city’s beloved small-town feel.

Hetherington’s holistic approach to growth management revolves around the meticulous and strategic implementation of the Act of Growth Management. She champions vertical density as a viable approach to expanding more space. However, she staunchly emphasizes the need to safeguard the city’s historical landmarks and uphold its distinct character as it continues to develop.

She also believed in her unique perspective that as a mother with children enrolled in the School of Snohomish District, she could contribute a valuable and family-oriented dimension to the City Council. Her viewpoint reflects the concerns and aspirations of the community’s families.

The City’s Political Landscape

The race between John Kartak and Maygen Hetherington is important for Snohomish and will impact the city’s future. Kartak, with his mayoral experience and fiscal responsibility stance, is seeking a comeback despite a controversial past.

Hetherington brings a new view, emphasizing small business growth and intelligent city expansion management.

Donna Ray is not running again, so this election could change the balance of power in the City Council. Felix Neals and Judith Kuleta, the current officeholders, are campaigning without opposition to keep their positions.

The municipal election, scheduled for November 7, will determine who will represent Position 1 on the City Council. When people vote, they can decide what happens in Snohomish and its local government.

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