Where the four people
Everett mayor stand
EVERETT — Four candidates are aiming to become Everett’s
next mayor. Whoever ultimately wins November’s election will inherit being in charge of Snohomish County’s largest city, with a team of more than 1,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $530 million. Longtime Mayor Ray Stephanson is choosing to conclude his mayorship instead of running for a fourth elected term, capping 30-plus years in leadership roles.
That budget is facing the squeeze annually, with expenditures outpacing revenue in the long-range picture.
It’s a tough full-time job running a city and cultivating its future. Among the candidates, two of them — Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy — hail from the City Council; Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan is looking for a new job as term limits will take him off the county council in 2018; and there’s former small business owner Shean Nasin, who sees an opportunity to transform Everett into a big metropolis.
Some challenges the candidates spoke of are ensuring people feel heard in their community, and making sure Everett isn’t left behind. Some see Everett at a tipping point to boom into a tech city.
Councilwoman Judy Tuohy, 63,
said she’s the candidate with the most varied background, as a
former department store retail manager and educator. She is the director of the Schack Art Center and was integral to raising it to its current state. She was elected to the council in 2014.
Tuohy also highlighted that she’s the candidate a lot of people know in the community. “They know me, they know I listen and know I have an open door,” Tuohy said.
Shean Nasin, 43, is making his first run for office but said he has the life experience as a lifetime Everett resident and is an “in the trenches” kind of guy which lets him relate to public needs. He’s a teacher and JV basketball coach at Everett High.
“I really understand the needs of the people of
Everett,” Nasin said.
Councilwoman Cassie Franklin, 45, said she has the
skill set in social services to benefit the city. She’s led the countywide runaway teen shelter Cocoon House since 2011 after
joining the Everett-based nonprofit in 2005. She has Stephanson’s endorsement but emphasized that her leadership style greatly differs from him by collaborating with the public before
implementing policies. She was elected to the council in 2015.
Brian Sullivan, 59, touts his connections in Olympia
and prior experience as the mayor of Mukilteo among the many roles he’s had.
Sullivan’s been in some form of political office since the mid-1980s. He was elected to the County Council in 2007. When he moved to a state Representative seat in 2001 after being the mayor of Mukilteo in the late 1990s,
he left Mukilteo with a
$5 million surplus.
Among his ideas is a promise to put the mayor’s office on the first floor of City Hall to give the public better access to government.
On the issues
Homelessness and street
issues are part of Franklin’s day job, and she called homelessness “our top priority for our next mayor.”
There are so many areas to work on, including the
opioid addiction crisis
and expanding detox and treatment centers, Franklin said. She’d tackle these with working with community groups.
Franklin also wants to develop a big matrix of social services to avoid duplicating efforts; she said she’d work with the county to build this matrix.
Sullivan said the city needs overnight facilities for people. He’s “not excited” by how Everett intends to build low-barrier housing near a single family neighborhood. This housing belongs in transitional zoning areas such as warehouse districts converted into high-density residential and commercial, he
said. The Everett Station area could be ideal, Sullivan said.
Tuohy said the city will “really need to attack the root causes of homelessness” from economic standpoints to addressing the opioid addiction crisis. She would
aim for seeing more treatment centers and work collaboratively with social service providers on the issue.
Revising city code to make it easier for siting more treatment centers is one thing Tuohy wants to see.
Tuohy also said she would work with groups to get
more day centers opened for homeless people to connect with social workers.
Nasin said Everett is already “doing more than its fair share” in addressing homelessness, and would reach across the county to get other cities to step up. Creating homelessness coalitions with other cities was Nasin’s proposal.
City planners are currently developing the Everett Metro Plan to reshape downtown’s long-term future.
A key tenet in Nasin’s platform is to create a dense, urban core in Everett and he said it’s high time to get plans like the one being developed going, but he said the
building height limits in the Metro Plan are too restrictive. He’d call for unlimited development height restrictions, but said there needs to be incentives
to make building high-rises profitable. He didn’t give a clear-cut path in his
interview on how to implement those incentives, but said the building blocks for developers and new companies need to be created to
make this happen.
Sullivan said he likes what he sees in the Metro Plan, and said he’s not opposed
to letting buildings get taller. He called smart development highly important as thousands of people will be moving to the city. (Everett just surpassed 110,000 in population.)
Tuohy supports what’s in the plan, but wants to see the final plan first before passing judgement. “So far I’m liking what I’m seeing,” she said.
Affordable housing is another issue the candidates brought up.
Franklin ties in affordable housing with the Metro Plan, and said density down-
town is vital to ensure more housing. Zoning changes would make affordable housing easier, Franklin said.
“We’re in a housing crisis … we need to make more affordable housing and need to make housing affordable
to all community members,” Franklin said. She supports infill measures such as mother-in-law units — small, low-rent rental houses put in backyards — and said a housing pipeline is needed.
Sullivan said he’d call on Olympia to create tax
credits to encourage both home ownership and redeveloping homes back to single-family houses or condominium units.
Nasin would enact requirements on developers to have inclusionary housing with varying price points — other cities such as Redmond have leveraged such requirements to build their cities, he said.
Bringing the police department back to a full 201-
person force is topical for Everett. The department is undergoing a big wave of turnover and has been hiring faster than anytime in recent memory. The department is fully budgeted, but is
currently short by almost 20 officers. This spring the council authorized an
$18,000 lateral sign-on bonus incentive to grab
officers from other police agencies.
Sullivan said the $18,000 lateral incentive is good, but he’s got another idea: Explore making it an additional incentive for officers to live
and work in Everett. He said developing a tax credit system would pay for that incentive through state legislators. He’s also told the police
officers’ union he would institute body cameras and restart the domestic violence unit.
Nasin gave two ways to encourage people to join
the force. One is to lower the restrictions to become an officer — candidates with past petty crimes are being disqualified — and the other is to have officers be more approachable as part of the fabric of the community. He remembers when officers would hand out stickers and have their windows down to talk to kids, and wants to see things like this to help grow more homegrown officers.
Tuohy also said the lateral incentives are good, but it will take sitting down to discuss more plans.
Franklin said she’s against lowering hiring standards; she’d look at more recruit-ment marketing to fill the ranks.
On the budget, Sullivan’s strategy to raise revenue is in part through annexing and expanding the city. He’s the only candidate who’s put enlarging Everett’s boundaries as a talking point to increase city revenue.
Tuohy would look for efficiencies within City Hall. Raising taxes is not the solution, Tuohy said.
“Our citizens are taxed to the max,” she said. Going forward, “we’ve got to be creative with filling” budget gaps.
Nasin said the low tax base is a huge challenge and hopes to raise the city’s median income by pivoting the city into a high-tech white collar mecca — think auxiliary outposts for Amazon
and Microsoft in Everett.
Franklin offered economic development as the way to increase revenues.
Where the candidates think the city is not spending
enough money on and what’s on their wish lists ran the gamut.
Tuohy said the city’s not spending enough toward parks and park amenities. “I think we could benefit from a lot more recreational spaces,” she said.
Also, stronger neighborhoods will make a stronger city, Tuohy said.
Franklin’s wish list includes letting people have more direct ways for people to engage with the city government.
Sullivan said tourism and city events will bring people in. He also wants to beef up infrastructure, and said he’d use a state program called tax increment financing to leverage the city reserves toward revitalizing the city.
The primary on Aug. 1 will see two candidates progress to the general election in November. The mayor’s
salary is currently $181,524 a year.
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