EVERETT — Neither June Robinson or Scott Bader wants to be running for the Everett City Council this year.
That’s not for lack of civic enthusiasm.
It’s because they’re competing for the spot left vacant this spring when City Councilman Drew Nielsen died in a rafting accident.
Robinson, who works in public health management, said she’s the best candidate to continue Nielsen’s thoughtful approach of carefully listening and encouraging people’s involvement in city government. She said she entered the race at the urging of the late councilman’s supporters.
“He was a champion of citizen involvement and I would like to help carry on that legacy at the city council,” Robinson said.
Bader, who works on parish development for the Archdiocese of Seattle, said he entered the race out of concern for the city’s fiscal priorities. He listed them as public safety, infrastructure, parks and libraries — the things he considers the core functions of government.
“At this economic time, we should only be focusing on those things we need to do,” he said.
The winner will serve out the remaining three years of Nielsen’s term. The seat is nonpartisan.
Nielsen, a real estate attorney, won election to his third term in office last year. He died May 12 while rafting on the Green River in King County.
In late May, the City Council appointed businesswoman Gigi Burke to the job until a winner is certified. Burke did not compete in the election.
Five candidates filed this spring to fill Nielsen’s seat. Robinson and Bader were the top two finishers in the Aug. 7 primary election. If this summer’s contest is any portent of what’s to come, November promises to be a close race. In the primary, Bader edged out Robinson with 31.7 percent of the vote to Robinson’s 30.9 percent. Put another way, Bader beat Robinson by 107 votes out of 14,573 cast.
For this election cycle, state political fundraising records showed Bader’s campaign with $26,555 and Robinson with $20,624.
Bader, 48, has lived most of his life in Everett. He was born in Federal Way, but his family moved north in 1967 when his father started working on the Boeing Co.’s Paine Field expansion.
Bader has a law degree, though his work now involves helping Roman Catholic parishes on fundraising and other aspects of their development.
He and his wife, Jeanette, have three children.
He describes his political views, “Pretty close to the middle, perhaps right of center.”
Robinson, 53, moved to Everett 15 years ago, also because of Boeing — when her husband, Hilbert, took a job there.
She grew up on a dairy farm in Lancaster County, Pa. She attended school in Delaware and Michigan, earning master’s degree in public health. She also served three years in the Peace Corps.
Before taking her current job as a program manager with Public Health — Seattle &King County, Robinson was the director of the nonprofit Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County.
She and her husband have two sons.
She describes herself as a “progressive, forward-thinking person who is concerned about the lives of average citizens.”
The candidates agree that City Council members should strive to make Everett attractive for businesses and their employees. They disagree about how to do that.
Bader says that by focusing on the essentials of government, the city can better position itself to create jobs, balance its books and improve an already strong public-safety system.
“We want to be among the first places that businesses think about expanding, relocating or starting,” Bader said.
An example of where he believes the city has strayed is the city’s downtown plaza project and the renovation of the old KeyBank Building for the Village Theatre’s children’s programs. The projects were strongly supported on the council by Nielsen and Stonecipher. Bader called it “$4-to-$5 million we didn’t need to spend in an economic downturn.”
“Not that they aren’t nice things,” he added.
The city is spending approximately $2.7 million on the three-quarter-acre plaza project, not including the price of the land. The city also spent $1.3 million to fix up the old bank building.
Better uses for the funds, in Bader’s mind, would have been improving the busy south Everett Public Library’s Evergreen Branch or Everett Fire Station 2 on Oakes Avenue.
Robinson said Bader’s focus is too narrow.
“I do believe that there’s a much larger role for local government to play, to create a community that people feel connected to,” Robinson said.
To accomplish that, the city should make strong investments to ensure that arts can thrive and that people have plenty of recreational outlets.
There’s also a role for council in making planning and zoning decisions to support businesses, she said, as well as to encourage education and training for a competitive workforce.
“The businesses of today are reliant on a workforce that is very picky about where they want to live,” she said. “We need a community where people want to raise their families to have a place where businesses want to locate.”
Both candidates have secured endorsements from community pillars.
In Robinson’s corner are Nielsen’s widow, Kim Nielsen, council members Paul Roberts and Stonecipher, Snohomish County Council members Brian Sullivan and Stephanie Wright, Sheriff John Lovick and labor groups.
Backing Bader are the other five Everett City Council members, the main union for Everett city workers, the Everett firefighters union, the Everett Police Officers Association and local transit-workers union.
Whoever wins will be sworn into office to take place after the results of the Nov. 6 election are certified.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everett City Council, Position No. 5
The Nov. 6 election will decide who fills out the remaining three years of the late City Councilman Drew Nielsen’s term. The winner would take office as soon as the general election is certified in November.
The council oversees policy making for the city of Everett. The base salary is $26,279 per year.
Experience: Former executive director of Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County. Now a program manager with Public Health — Seattle &King County.
Experience: Director of Parish Stewardship for the Archdiocese of Seattle, Mukilteo School Board member 1991-1995.