Five candidates in quick race to fill Everett council seat

EVERETT — Most City Council candidates spend months getting ready for the primary election.

The five people in the race for Everett City Council seat No. 5 have less than 10 weeks.

Councilman Drew Nielsen had just started his third term on the council when he died in a rafting accident May 12.

The City Charter stipulates the position be filled in the next general election. Ballots are mailed July 19 for the primary.

That’s left little time for the five candidates who would like to finish the final three years of Nielsen’s term to raise money and get their names out to voters.

“It is a very short time frame to gear up and be out in the field and making people aware you are running,” said Pete Kinch, one of the candidates and a former mayor of Everett.

The other four candidates are Scott Bader, employed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle; June Robinson, a program manager for Public Health — Seattle and King County; Jon Ott, a retired Everett police officer and community college instructor; and Bill Paulen, a vice president at American West Bank.

Kinch added that raising money is “absolutely key” for any serious candidate. He expects to spend as much as $12,000 before the primary.

That money goes toward purchases such as yard signs, door hangers, mailers, letterhead, stationery and website design. Kinch said campaign spending is about the same as starting a small business.

“In my experience, it’s almost impossible to run an effective campaign if no one knows you’re in the race.”

Voters should recognize Bader and Robinson, who ran unsuccessfully for separate positions on the Everett City Council last fall.

As of Friday, Bader and Robinson have reported the most cash, raising $7,210 and $7,170, respectively.

Kinch reports $8,000 raised; $5,000 of that is a loan.

Bader received $900, the maximum allowable in this race, from the Everett firefighters union. He also received hundreds of dollars from people associated with Gamut360 Holdings, an Everett developer.

Robinson is pulling in donations from many supporters of the late councilman, including his wife, Kim Nielsen, and Council Members Paul Roberts and Brenda Stonecipher.

Robinson, who failed to unseat longtime councilman Ron Gipson, said she only ran again after many people suggested she should.

“I was strongly encouraged by people who supported Drew and that tipped the balance for me,” she said.

Robinson said her first run for the council taught her that candidates need to raise thousands of dollars to be successful. If she moves through the primary, she expects she’ll have to raise another $15,000.

Ott and Paulen — both political novices — chose to raise and spend no more than $5,000. That means they don’t have to report individual contributions to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission.

Paulen said the low-budget approach reflects his campaign style, which is “handshakes and talking to people” versus “big media buys and yard signs.”

About a week ago, Ott said he’d raised just $25 from a local chapter of the Washington Council of the Blind.

He expects to spend enough to buy some yard signs, but he’s also depending more on handshakes than a big budget.

“I will depend on my pocket to some degree,” Ott said. “But I’m not a wealthy person.”

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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