Later this month Steve Schowengerdt will take office as mayor of Mission and his hope for the council is “that we can all pull together. Campaigns can be divisive,” he said after winning a close race over Mission Councilor Dave Shepard. Final totals showed Schowengerdt winning by a 19-vote margin, 862-843.
Schowengerdt celebrated at his home Tuesday night which was packed with family and supporters who helped with the campaign. Schowengerdt said he would be spending “plenty of time” at city hall after he takes office to dig into issues. The most important priority for the city right now, he said, is getting Johnson Drive construction completed so businesses can get back to normal. Construction crews are working as fast as they can, he said.
Big changes won’t be coming, Schowengerdt said, but he still hopes to repeal the “driveway tax” (Transportation Utility Fee) if it is possible to replace that revenue stream and he will be taking a look at how to lower community center deficits. He also said he hopes to meet with developer Tom Valenti to discuss delays on the Gateway project.
Shepard felt “tremendous about the campaign we ran,” he said. “We sold solutions and positive aspects of Mission.” Lots of people feel good about progress that Mission has made, he said. Shepard predicted that the new mayor is likely to be breaking some tie votes in the council going forward. Members of the council who will be in office after April were almost evenly divided between the two election parties.
Schowengerdt spent seven years on the council but has not been a member for the last four years. He owns a remodeling company and has been a Mission resident for 50 years. He has been a strong critic of the TUF while Shepard said the fee was forward thinking created a new revenue stream necessary to address crumbling roads. The legality of the TUF is now on appeal in a court case.
Shepard, a council member since 2005, still has two years remaining on his current term. He is council president and had been chairman of the finance committee while several projects were undertaken by the city. He also had been a councilor in Fairway before moving to Mission.
In his campaign, Schowengerdt had said the city has been overspending and has taken on too much debt. Shepard said the city had stepped up to address storm water, street and other infrastructure needs that could not be put off. He said the debt was manageable and was being reduced rapidly.
Schowengerdt replaces Mayor Laura McConwell who has served 12 years.