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Filing Week Kicks Off a Spicy Lake Stevens Political Season
On the ballot this November: Lake Stevens Mayor, three LS council positions and three Lake Stevens School District Board of Director positions
Expect a Hot Political Climate in the City and the School District as the 2023 political season officially opens the week of May 15 with a period known as filing week, which runs from from Monday to Friday. By the end of that week, the races will be set and the rhetoric will begin.
The quickly-growing Lake Stevens community enters the political matrix this month with seven major elected positions on the ballot this November, including Lake Stevens Mayor, three city council slots and three Lake Stevens School District Board of Directors positions.
And with a number of hot button issues expected to garner attention during local races, residents and incumbents are watching and listening for news and rumors on who - if anyone - care to challenge for leadership roles.
Candidate filing begins Monday, May 15 at 9 am and prospective candidates have until close of business on Friday May 19 to file.
City Candidates Likely to Face Questions on Sewer District Merger, Transparency Issues
Lake Stevens Mayor Brett Gailey is up for re-election as are Councilmembers Dickinson and Jorgstad (Positions 4 and 5). Councilmember Ryan Donoghue, appointed last December, is on the ballot for Position 3. Voters will decide whether Donoghue or a potential challenger will fill the rest of the term vacated by Shaun Fredericks.
Incumbents can point to strong financials, excellent safety ratings, transportation improvements and the much-celebrated opening of the Lake Stevens Costco.
Hot topics for Lake Stevens candidates are likely to include
the complicated relationship between the City and the Lake Stevens Sewer District. The two entities are negotiating a pending merger.
Additionally, a Lake Stevens Police officer remains on paid leave pending the investigation of an officer-involved shooting that left one man dead.
Despite the presence of multiple officers wearing body worn cameras, LSPD has declined J425 requests to release badge cam footage. Its become standard practice for law enforcement agencies to release officer-involved shooting footage within days if not hours of the incident.
Lake Stevens police severed their contract with ints initial body-worn camera provider last month and will work without cameras for an estimated period of 90 days while a new vendor is located.
Finally, issues brought to the forefront by the exponential growth occuring in the City are likely to remain relevant.
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School Board Candidates Likely to Face Questions About Ongoing Teacher Misconduct Issues
The Lake Stevens School District school board has three positions up this November, with Board of Directors President Mari Taylor joining Directors David Iseminger and Paul Lund at the end of their respective terms.
On the plus side, LSSD incumbents can point to a continued close-knit relationship with a community that has supported every major bond and levy measure in recent history, high ratings in standardized test scores, per-student spending and the completion of significant improvements including major additions at the high school and the addition of a new elementary school.
That said, LSSD Board of Directors candidates are likely to face thorny questions that they likely decline to answer, dealing with the alleged and sustained sexual misconduct of teachers, an issue that has plagued Lake Stevens for over 30 years.
Former teacher Chris Mattingly, initially hired by the district in 1994, admitted having sex with one former student and faced at least five “deeply troubling” sustained allegations of misconduct before he was eventually let go in 2016.
A Lake Stevens-based volunteer wrestling official reportedly raped as many as 50 area high school student-athletes, according to Snohomish County investigators. Investigators identified numerous Lake Stevens victims while compiling charges against Eugene Brian Garvie. Garvie pled guilty to multiple rape charges and remains imprisoned.
Garvie had no official connection to the Lake Stevens School District or the any Lake Stevens athletic program.
No Lake Stevens officials, administrators or educators were implicated in the Garvie matter.
However, Garvie’s house was blocks from campus and charging documents revealed that alcohol and drug-laced parties at his house were common knowledge among students.
Currently, a Lake Stevens High School coach and teacher remains on paid leave facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct involving students.
Mattingly remained employed for two decades despite at least five documented instances of misconduct, an issue that a district lawyer memorably summed up during the following exchange with Mattingly:
District Lawyer: “Have you thought about what would happen, and I hope it doesn’t, for your sake, if the Everett Herald gets a hold of this?
District Lawyer: “I mean, you can imagine the headline: Five times investigated; five accusations; still employed.”
Mattingly: “Not Good.”
J425 founder Kevin Thomas Hulten was one of three ASB officers who confronted Mattingly about sexual misconduct in 1997 after Mattingly inadvertently left notes and materials in the ASB office.
An enraged Mattingly later barged into another teacher’s classroom and struck Hulten with rolled up newspapers, in a fit of rage that only subsided after students summoned veteran teacher Bruce Kelly from a neighboring class room.
The ASB officers reported Mattingly to the district, but the information wasn’t present in a later review of his file.
Mattingly was removed from his coaching duties (and retained as a teacher) in 2007 after multiple allegations of grooming and multiple sustained allegations of viewing pornography on school grounds. He continued to teach at LSHS.
Mattingly was ultimately let go in 2016 after a former female student cooperated with investigators and confirmed a sexual relationship with Mattingly. Asked why she chose to come forward, the victim said “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Unfortunately student and district priorities aren’t aligned in this regard.
Despite the danger he posed to students, LSSD apparently covered for Mattingly, who was briefly hired as a coach at Arlington High School in 2011. According to a Herald report, Arlington checked with Lake Stevens during the pre-hire process and were not told about any previous allegations, despite Mattingly’s decade-deep file of misconduct.
After Mattingly was let go, he was hired in Montana.
The practice of covering for serial predators — known as the “passing the trash” 1 — is a common public school practice that is beginning to received closer inspection through serial investigations like the J425 probe into the Mark Hein matter.
According to a Billings Gazette report, news of Mattingly’s previous behavior eventually reached the Shepherd School District. Mattingly was let go. A Lake Stevens School District spokesperson told the Gazette that they had no record of anyone from the Montana School District contacting LSSD.
The legacy of abuse remains a front burner topic as the 15-month-long criminal and administrative investigation into coach and teacher Mark Hein continues. Hein was placed on administrative leave last August after an Lake Stevens Police Deparment Detective conducted a criminal interview with Hein.
LSSD completed an earlier investigation into the same allegations and found Hein had violated district policy regarding student/teacher boundaries. A non-disciplinary letter was given to Hein (but not placed in his file) as a result, and he was instructed not to contact the victims.
According to LSPD reports, Hein contacted one victim at least 20 more times after the district intervention. Hein was arrested in January and charged with six counts of sexual misconduct involving female students. The charges were dropped a few days later with investigators telling the J425 they intended to refile at a later date. Over three months later, the probes continue in silence.
J425 is aware of at least three identified student victims cooperating with ongoing administrative and criminal probes.
Hein was hired to coach Boys Basketball the same day the high school hired Chris Mattingly as Girls Basketball coach. Hein and Mattingly attended college together and played on the same college basketball team.