By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
When we think of Everett history, we go way back.
A brief history on the Everett Public Library’s website covers settlers arriving in the 1800s. Everett was named for the son of East Coast investor Charles Colby. Lumber mills and fishing shaped the waterfront. The Boeing Co. came in the 1960s. And in the 1990s, Naval Station Everett opened.
What happened a few decades ago doesn’t seem historical. Yet we are always writing our history.
On Wednesday, the Everett City Council voted to name the old City Hall the William E. Moore Historic City Hall. Twenty, 40 or 100 years from now, people walking past the building at 3002 Wetmore Ave. may ask, “Who was that?”
Even now, some Everett residents may not know that Bill Moore was Everett’s longest-serving mayor, from 1977 until 1990. One argument for naming public places after people who have served their communities is to help us remember our history.
A World War II veteran who had commanded an Army tank division in Europe, Moore was an Everett furniture store owner before starting in city politics. He had worked at the downtown store, Carruthers and Whitehead, before taking it over. He served on the City Council before becoming mayor.
Clair Olivers is an engineer who worked for the city for 25 years, eventually as public works director.
“What I think was unique about Bill Moore, when he ran for mayor it was on a platform of fixing up the city infrastructure to prepare Everett for economic growth,” Olivers said. “It really did pay off in the near term back then, but it’s still paying off today in terms of Everett’s ability to respond to growth demands and attract new employment.”
Olivers and others said that decisions made by Moore in the 1970s and ’80s — to take care of basics such as updating the sewer system and planning for regular street maintenance — have kept Everett on sound financial footing.
Reid Shockey, who now runs a planning firm, was Everett’s first professional planner when Moore was on the Everett City Council and then became mayor.
“If I was the liberal planner, he was the conservative business person,” Shockey said. Despite those differences, “he and I and others had a meeting of the minds” when it came to bringing Everett’s infrastructure up to modern standards and looking ahead to future growth.
“We had infrastructure dating back to the 1890s, with old wood-stave water lines,” Shockey said. Moore could see that “pretty soon we’re going to have a real problem,” he said.
Shockey said Moore’s business background helped win voters over to the need for added taxes to pay for the projects.
“Bill was a tank commander in World War II. He sort of had that attitude when he said to the public, ‘This is important enough, we want you to increase your taxes so we can pay for this over time.’ He gave voters a choice, but he was very firm,” Shockey said.
As Everett’s planning and community development manager, Dave Koenig consulted with the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation about the name change for the old City Hall, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Koenig, too, said Moore focused on infrastructure, including improvements to streets near Boeing that eventually helped bring more business to the area.
Another important project Moore pushed was the creation of the Broadway Plaza housing complex for low-income seniors, and expansion of the nearby Everett Senior Center, now the Carl Gipson Senior Center. Voters twice supported bond issues to pay for those projects, Koenig said.
Olivers was working for the city when Moore was first contacted by U.S. Sen. Henry M. Jackson about the possibility of a Navy base coming to Everett. “The Navy seemed to me an unexpected and kind of amazing thing — to think that something like that could happen,” Olivers said. “With Scoop Jackson and Warren Magnuson in the Senate, it was entirely possible.”
“Bill Moore had a very close relationship with Scoop Jackson,” Koenig said. He recalled hearing how the senator had called Moore very early on to gauge interest in an Everett Navy base.
Moore understood his community.
“People used to say that Bill Moore had been in everybody’s living room in town, because he sold furniture. I think that was part of his philosophy, to satisfy the customer,” Koenig said.
“He came out of being a salesman,” Koenig said. “Taking care of basic stuff in local government — the streets were fixed — he set the tone for customer satisfaction.”
Who was Bill Moore? With his name on a prominent building, people around here will know the answer for generations to come.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.