In Everett’s Council District 1, candidates diverge in few areas
Incumbent Paul Roberts (left) faces challenger Mary Fosse for Everett's City Council District 1 seat.
EVERETT — The shakeup on City Council that turned five at-large seats into council districts has one incumbent and one challenger running in District 1, which covers northernmost Everett, including the Northwest and Delta neighborhoods.
The race is between Paul Roberts and Mary Fosse.
Two other council members who live within the District No. 1’s boundaries, Scott Murphy and Scott Bader, are exiting council in December.
The council districts effort, in part, attempted to remove geographic hegemony among the council, which at times heavily has been represented by residents in the Northwest Neighborhood.
Fosse is making her first run for political office. She works as the legislative aide to State Rep. Emily Wicks; she previously served as Delta Neighborhood’s chair.
Roberts has spent his career in infrastructure and land planning services, including stints as Everett’s planning director and as Marysville’s public works director. Roberts today works as a government policy consultant.
Roberts was first elected to the City Council in 2006.
The Tribune asked the candidates four questions and are reprinting their answers below:
Within your district, what specific things are voters requesting you do for them if elected?
Roberts: Voters are asking the City to address housing, homelessness, public safety, budget, traffic, transportation and environmental and climate issues. I am the Council liaison on housing, and the leader on transportation and environmental issues. This month Council passed Rethink Housing, providing more housing at all price points, including the missing middle. I have long been a leader on transportation and environmental issues for Everett and the region addressing land use, transportation and climate change.
Fosse: This community wants a responsive and proactive council, and that’s the kind of leadership I bring. We need a fresh perspective in addressing our homelessness and housing crises, tackling our perpetual budget deficit, and improving public safety, and intentional planning for our future amidst the growth and climate change realities before us. Our neighbors want safe, livable, and walkable communities, and most of all voters want change. That’s why we have districts.
From your view, what element of citywide infrastructure would you identify needs improvement most, and why?
Roberts: Climate change will force cities to prepare for climate influenced events such as floods, heat, fire and sea level rise, and decarbonize transportation, energy and buildings. These events will increase in frequency, intensity and severity and will force cities to prepare. Surface water management and transportation are at the top of this list for infrastructure improvements.
Fosse: Our neighbors, seniors, and crucial workforce are being priced out of Everett. People are increasingly unable to live and work in this city. This housing crisis is not new. We’ve needed to build 1500 units annually to meet Puget Sound Regional Council growth management targets, but we’ve averaged only 231. City Council has lacked leadership in incentivizing the development of equitable, sustainable, and affordable housing, especially around high transit corridors and future light rail.
City officials have studied three concepts toward resolving Everett’s negative-cashflow problem. They are: approaching voters to enact a public tax for parks services, approaching voters for a property tax lift, and approaching voters to sever the Everett Fire Department from the city budget and transform it into a regional fire authority (a fire authority would set its own taxes to fund itself.) On council, would you vote “yes” to proceed on any of these three?
Roberts: Everett’s current budget structure is not sustainable. Costs exceed revenues by 2 to 3% annually. I have long supported changes to Everett’s budget structure and am open to considering property taxes, fire authority and more. The Mayor and Council must reach out to voters and make the case for revenue. The City also is pursuing new economic initiatives. I have been working on clean energy economic development in Everett for years.
Fosse: There are some serious decisions to be made regarding this city’s budget challenges and level of service. I stand ready to serve as a leader who listens to her neighbors in her District, and I believe public participation is fundamental to our democracy, especially voting. Our budget is indicative of our values, and I think letting the voters have their voices heard and directly participate in these crucial decisions is the right thing to do.
What is Everett lacking, and what steps would you take to try to change this?
Roberts: Everett is awakening to the new reality of climate driven events (storms, heat, fire & sea level) increasing in frequency, intensity and severity. These events will dramatically impact infrastructure and costs. I have led efforts to address climate change, including a Climate Action Plan. More needs to be done. The Comprehensive Plan update (2024 to 2044) is just beginning. We must take this opportunity to plan for a clean energy economy and the next generation.
Fosse: Everett lacks council leadership with a vision and a plan to address our issues. With lived experience in poverty and childhood homelessness, I understand the nuance of those problems and am better prepared to address them. We need to be thinking longer-term with a focus on comprehensive approaches, and I look forward to contributing to a more proactive and responsive Everett City Council.
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