Councilman Mark Mullet enters state Senate race against Cheryl Pflug
January 10, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet is embarking on a campaign for the state Senate against incumbent Cheryl Pflug, Issaquah’s representative in the chamber.
Mullet, a Democrat and the proprietor of Zeeks Pizza and Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in the Issaquah Highlands, became the latest local candidate to enter a race for state office in recent days.
Pflug, a registered nurse and Maple Valley Republican, intends to run for re-election to the seat.
Mullet focused on education and the economy in a pre-announcement interview. He also said the 5th Legislative District needs closer ties among the state senator and city leaders throughout the sprawling district.
In 2004, Pflug, then a state representative, succeeded Dino Rossi in the state Senate; she has been subsequently re-elected.
The field also includes Republican Brad Toft, a Snoqualmie businessman. More candidates could enter the race before the May filing deadline.
Issaquah and other local voters pick the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, Aug. 7 in the all-mail primary election.
The former 5th Legislative District posed a challenge to Democrats. The redrawn district debuting in the 2012 election sheds some Issaquah neighborhoods for a more rural — and conservative — character.
Mullet, a self-described fiscal conservative and social liberal, said the district is comprised of independent-minded voters uninterested in party labels.
Mullet said being the father of four daughters influences his approach to funding for education.
“They’re the special-interest group that’s going to drive my education decisions,” he said. “I’m never going to make a decision that I don’t think is going to be in their best interests.”
“In the same way that I’m not going to make any decisions that are bad for my kids’ education, I’m not going to take votes that are bad for small business owners, either,” Mullet said. “I was transparent when I was running for Issaquah City Council. I’m a small business owner. I’m going to make decisions that I think are good for small businesses and I think I’ll do the same thing in Olympia.”
He also addressed economic development efforts — a common theme in city and state politics as the economy limps along in a fragile recovery.
“The competition is definitely much broader than us just competing with Oregon and Idaho,” Mullet said.
State governments, he said, often have more flexibility than the federal government to determine how government can deliver services.
“The beauty of federalism is that the states are creative in how to address education, and road and transit issues,” he added.
Mullet served as a managing director for Bank of America before earning a master’s degree in public administration from the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington.
In January 2010, he became the initial Issaquah Highlands resident to serve on the council. Mullet, the son of former Tukwila Mayor Steve Mullet, ran unopposed for the Issaquah council seat.
Mark Mullet pointed to the successful effort to conserve the Park Pointe site on Tiger Mountain as a major accomplishment. In exchange, city leaders opened highlands land to developers instead.
“That was just a classic example of government working,” he said. “It’s this idea that good government is a regulator and a facilitator. I think that’s what the city did in the whole transaction last year. We facilitated and we regulated — and it works.”
The experience as a councilman also changed how Mullet understands the process to turn issues into legislation.
“Coming into it, I thought that people who took a long time to make decisions weren’t intelligent people,” he said. “Now, I’ve come to really appreciate that there’s some really intelligent people who slow the process down on purpose because they want to make sure that you hear all of the voices.”