This is another in a series of articles designed to help prepare voters for the Nov. 5 general election.
Political newcomer Adam Gregorich knows he has an uphill climb in his race to unseat two-term Brier Mayor Bob Colinas, but Gregorich is by no means winded by the effort.
“It’s tough anytime you go up against an incumbent, especially one as entrenched as Mayor Colinas, but I’m feeling good about the race so far,” Gregorich said. “I am finding more and more support throughout the community from residents who are waking up to what’s going on and frustrated with the way they and their neighbors are being treated by the current administration.”
The City of Brier mayoral position is the only contested race on the general election ballot in Brier this fall as four city council members are running for re-election unopposed. Ballots begin arriving in voters’ mailboxes this weekend.
Gregorich, a technical manager at AT&T and small business owner, is a 10-year resident of Brier, a member of the Selective Service Board, and volunteers with his neighborhood watch and at Brier Elementary School, where he and his wife’s soon-to-be-8-year-old twins attend.
Gregorich entered the Brier mayoral race because of his belief that more openness in city workings is necessary. “In my opinion, without transparency it’s difficult to gauge honesty and effectiveness,” he said. “That’s why this is one of the cornerstones of my campaign.”
He wants to see city council meeting agendas, reports and minutes available online. “This action alone will provide Brier residents with greater visibility to decisions the mayor and the city council are making with our money,” he asserted.
One use of city money that Gregorich points to as inappropriate is a 2010 decision by the city council to add to the City of Brier Mayor compensation package health benefits or a cash-value equivalent. Gregorich contends it amounted to “a substantial raise” for Colinas and is out-of-line to the compensation that similar officials in neighboring cities receive.
“I can find no other city in the area that offers this extravagant benefit to their mayor,” Gregorich stated. “If elected I would ask that they not renew it as I do not think it is appropriate for the mayor to get a unique benefit not offered to other city employees. It’s also not a wise use of our tax dollars.”
Colinas didn’t respond to questions posed about the 2010 addition to the mayor’s compensation package.
Brier City Councilmembers jointly endorsed Colinas for re-election earlier this year, noting his “accomplishments, experience and expertise.” They pointed out that during Colinas’ time as mayor, the city secured funds to buy and develop park space, build a skate park and replace the Scriber Creek Bridge. They also claim that city legal expenses and annual insurance premiums were reduced.
Brier City Councilmembers also cite the healthy working relationship between themselves and Mayor Colinas. “In a day and age where dysfunctional politics seems to be the norm, it is with great pride that the city council and the mayor find ourselves functioning as a strong team,” said councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Martin Krienke.
Gregorich said that the city council’s endorsement of Colinas only reinforces his assertion that a change at City Hall is needed. “I was actually pleased to see the City Council highlight in their endorsement that they believe ‘government in Brier is effective, honest and transparent as a result of Mayor Colinas’ leadership.’ That statement, however, is contradictory to their current practice and the fact that they’ve commented on it in their endorsement means they recognize that voters are becoming aware and the message is getting out,” Gregorich said.
Colinas is facing his first election challenge as the incumbent Brier Mayor; he won re-election in 2009 running unopposed. Colinas was first elected Mayor in 2005, receiving 62.37 percent of the vote against then-city councilmember Gary Morgan.
In order to be counted, general election ballots from Brier and throughout Snohomish County must been returned to a county drop box or have a postmark on them by Nov. 5. Additional information on the Brier mayoral race, and all local races and ballot issues, can be found in the local voters’ pamphlets that the county mailed out on Thursday.
— By Doug Petrowski