Candidates in the 2015 Primary Election were asked to provide their responses to five questions posed by Discover Ferndale. The following is the unedited response from Ferndale Mayor Candidate Jon Mutchler:
Name: Jon Mutchler
Position running for: Mayor, City of Ferndale
Why are you running for this position?
The first person to ask me to think about running was our current mayor, Gary Jensen, about two years ago. Others at city hall, in the community, political and business leaders, as well as friends and family began to encourage me as well.
I decided, before my last council election (2013), that if I received more than 65% of the votes, I would give it very strong consideration. The kind people of Ferndale reelected me with 78% approval. So, running for mayor became something I felt I should consider and I began to give it a serious look, sharing those thoughts with close advisors and family.
I was humbled by the mayor’s endorsement. His call to me in April began, “Jon, Ferndale needs you. You need to run.” I won’t try to be “Gary,” or replace him. But I will certainly follow the sound and prudent financial course he’s laid out for the city and endeavor to do as good of job as he has in hiring great talent for our city. Under my leadership we will continue to move the ball steadily forward, in terms of city improvements.
I am running for mayor because I already have a track record of serving the city for 28 years. We moved to Ferndale in 1987. Diane (as a former Ferndale school teacher) and I (as a community church pastor) have been caring for and helping families for 3 decades. We are fully invested in Ferndale, having raised our family here, built two homes here, and are passionate about and believe in a great Ferndale future.
What do you see are the responsibilities of the position?
The mayor is the face and voice of the city and represents the city in various political, community, and legal capacities. It might not sound flattering, but the mayor is a politician and he needs to be versed in the political process as he represents the city before other cities, Whatcom County, the Lummi Nation, and Olympia.
The good citizens of Ferndale have given me their approval in my last three elections (two city council races, and Charter Review Commission). The other 4 candidates have two electoral wins total among them. I mention that because I think that political experience is a benefit to the community. It may sound strange, but you need a strong politician in this role to stand up to other politicians when needed.
The mayor’s temperament and character set the tone for city business. He brings the vision and values that carry the city forward into a great future. He needs to listen and be accessible—qualities repeatedly ascribed to me by citizens.
The mayor is responsible for all city departments, from police to planning to water/sewer to the parks department. He is your city’s CEO. He also conducts and leads city council meetings. He is responsible, and I promise to act responsibly if you select me as your next mayor. I won’t “pass the buck.”
How do you plan to carry out those responsibilities?
My priorities are the same as when I serve on council:
- To be open, transparent, and honest with the citizens. Nothing is hidden. Clear and straight answers are always given. My work with the planning department has brought about greater transparency (in terms of public and neighborhood notification) during my service. I will look for new ways to help you stay informed, without having to jump through a hundred hoops. You have a sacred right to know what we are doing.
- To be ethical and above reproach in all we do, and to expect the same from all employees of the city.
- To be mindful of the laws and codes and follow their letter and spirit. We will avoid ethical “short cuts.”
- To cast a vision that respects the traditions, values, and heritage of Ferndale, but embraces the possibilities of a great future for our city.
- To listen and be accessible to people—especially to those who have different viewpoints.
- To respect the tax-paying public and their pocket book, and insist upon City Hall and council do the same. I’ve raised seven kids here in Ferndale on a fixed budget. I know about hard choices. The city needs to continue to do the same.
What significant issues do you expect to encounter and how do you plan to work through or resolve them?
- Living within our means without raising taxes is always a struggle, but we can do so by limiting what we expect from government (“needs” and “wants”). Until new development comes (with increased revenues) we need to continue to toe-the-line on expenses and resist raising taxes. I was one of two council members that resisted raising the utility tax from 6.5% to 9.0%.
- We need to resist the temptation to allow large national retail to come to Ferndale (with greater sales tax revenues) without insisting upon proper traffic mitigation to ensure we don’t allow Main Street to look like the Guide Meredian or West Bakerview during rush hour. This is an ongoing struggle and I will be relentless in insisting that we implement a traffic plan that will protect the city.
- A major developer at our doorstep is our literal neighbor, the Lummi Nation. While putting the city of Ferndale first in negotiations (which is what I’m sworn to do) I plan to do my best to work with tribal leaders to see that development around Slater Road benefits Ferndale while respecting the interests of the Tribe.
- The tone and culture of city council is too often less than respectful of our citizens. All guests to council meetings should be respected, treated fairly, and listened to. Sadly, there are stories of community members feeling disrespected by council members when they come to share their concerns. I can’t blame them, but this is not the fault of just one or two council members, but of us, the body as a whole. In January I promise to bring a new start to council and help rebuild the reputation of this body.
What current and past work, political, life and education experiences and accomplishments will empower you to perform well in this position:
I bring the following achievements and experiences to this job:
- Two-term Ferndale City Council Member
- Served or chaired…
- Finance/Administration Committee
- Planning/Land Use Committee
- Public Safety/Neighborhood Services Committee
- City Council Liaison to
- Planning Commission
- Ferndale Downtown Association
- Community Service Co-op
- Ferndale School Board
- Served or chaired…
- Whatcom Charter Review Commissioner
- Founding pastor, Ferndale Alliance Church (28 years)
- Professional pianist/teacher/recording artist (35 years)
- Driver-trainer (Holland American Westours)
- Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, member
- 35 year Ferndale/county resident.
- Whatcom County Pregnancy Clinic, board member
- Blaine Music Festival faculty (Drayton Harbor Music Festival)
- Ferndale Schools Communication Advisory Committee
- School levy committee (1989)
- Former fire chaplain (“support officer”), Bellingham Fire Department
- Trustee, Whatcom County Old Settlers Association
- Regent College (M.Div)
- Western Washington University (B.Mus)
- Olympic College (A.Sci)
- Father, seven children. All successfully home schooled and wonderful contributors to Ferndale life!
The views and opinions expressed in candidate profiles are those of the candidates and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Discover Ferndale.