Looking for a fresh voice

The unexpected resignation of veteran Everett City Councilmember Arlan Hatloe on Wednesday marks a shift in the political landscape. Hatloe, who had a year remaining on his third council term, is yielding to the Vitamin D pull of a retirement getaway that doesn’t measure Januarys in sideways rain. Hatloe’s resignation becomes effective Dec. 31, and the council will need to appoint a successor.

Hatloe’s resignation, coupled the recent death of longtime former councilmember Dale Pope, underscores a stylistic and generational passing. Everett before the Boeing plant. Everett as a smells-like-jobs mill town, with the Weyerhaeuser B Mill and Kenneth Callahan’s mural of Paul Bunyan lording over the lunchroom. Everett has grown into a demographically mixed animal, with burgeoning south-of-downtown neighborhoods that were an undeveloped blur a generation ago. To be innovative and relevant, Everett’s political culture needs to harmonize and adapt to changing currents.

Earlier this month, The Herald Editorial Board advocated one remedy, to amend the city charter so that council members are elected by district, rather than at-large. Currently, all city council members run citywide, which de facto puts them at a remove from South Everett (where a majority of the city’s 103,000 residents now live.) District elections would enhance participation and throw into relief some of Everett’s less-visible parks and neighborhood debates.

In the interim, we hope that the city council recruits a Hatloe replacement with the requisite imagination and energy (The appointee will serve out the remainder of Hatloe’s term and could seek election in the fall of 2013.)

A few candidates to consider include June Robinson who lost her city-council bid to Scott Bader on Nov. 6. Robinson is a seasoned human services’ practitioner with an inclusive perspective and a Drew Nielsen-style sensibility. Maddy Metzger-Utt, the executive director of the Greater Everett Community Foundation, is a tested leader with a comprehensive understanding of regional nonprofits. Jo Levine (by the accident of birth, Metzger-Utt’s sister) is a longtime Everett High School teacher and coach as well as a get-it-done community activist.

Add to this list of North Everett residents one Michael Trujillo of the Cascade View Neighborhood Association. As The Herald’s Julie Muhlstein reported last August, Trujillo played a central role in changing the name of the Everett Mall South neighborhood to Twin Creeks. He remains an active participant with Everett’s Council of Neighborhoods.

For decades, a handful of founding families have anchored Everett politics. These sawdust Mayflower-ites have done enormous good, building a city and breathing life into its civic institutions (their children have gone on to become lawyers, accountants, even journalists.) But insularity does not a vital city make. The time for change is now.