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Everett Council appoints neighborhood representative McNeal to vacancy

EVERETT — The City Council appointed Ethel McNeal to fill Mayor Cassie Franklin’s recently-vacated seat and serve on council until the 2018 election.
McNeal, 67, is the city’s first black female council member. 
The council touted McNeal for her labor experience, neighborhood activism and time on the city’s vision committee. McNeal served as a union president in the Edmonds School District and is the vice chair of the Council of Neighborhoods as well as the Twin Creeks Neighborhood representative for the council. 
Adding McNeal gives the council a member who’s well-versed in unions.
Geographic diversity was discussed frequently during the interviews.  Councilman Jeff Moore said he was looking for someone “who’s ready to go with and engage a community we don’t touch.” 
McNeal lives in the area around the Everett Mall, and joins Moore, from Silver Lake, as the only councilmembers not living in North Everett. 
“When I first came here, South Everett only extended so far,” McNeal said. “They built all around south Everett, where it started and I think we got caught in the middle. Sometimes, we forget, just like the middle child. You remember the first child and you remember the last child but sometimes the middle child gets left out. I think it’s important we look at this city as all of us.”
Harmony was a common theme in McNeal’s candidate interview.
“You can’t accomplish anything unless you work together,” McNeal said. “You have to agree to disagree. You have to be willing to listen to each other, work with each other and respect each other.” 
McNeal said she was optimistic about Everett’s future and added the council can “make Everett an attractive city.” 
“I’ve been here since 1969 and there have been some great people to live in this city who have made an impact on my life and that helps me to know Everett is a great place. I don’t like the negative things about Everett but I don’t think any city is perfect.”
Family was another topic McNeal repeatedly spoke of during her interview. 
“I was raised with very strong family values,” McNeal said. “When things get hard, families don’t turn their back. They’re there to wrap their arms around you and you move on together. When I first came here, that’s what I saw. Our lives should be built around family.”
There were 29 applicants for the vacancy.
McNeal was joined by Hillary Pirtle, Tyler Rourke, Michael Trujillo, Paula Rhyne and William Morgan as the six finalists for the vacancy. 
After the first vote, McNeal received votes from Moore, Scott Bader and Paul Roberts. Councilwomen Brenda Stonecipher and Judy Tuohy voted for Pirtle. Councilman Scott Murphy voted for Rourke.
The second vote went 4-2, as Murphy joined Bader, Moore and Roberts in voting for McNeal. The council voted a third time and unanimously appointed McNeal. She was immediately sworn in. 
Stonecipher said she supported Pirtle in part because of her relative youth as a candidate. Murphy similarly praised Rourke. Both candidates are raising young families in Everett. With Franklin ascending to mayor, all seven council members are now over 50 years old.
McNeal’s council seat will be up for grabs in the 2018 election and the new councilwoman said a day after being appointed that she isn’t sure whether she’ll run.
“I’m just getting my feet wet,” McNeal said. “I don’t know yet. I really want to focus on the present before I look down that road. I’m going to reserve that thought.”


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