Everett often has the feel of Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting “Nighthawks:” a spare, preserved-in-amber town. Work of the dirt-under-your-nails variety is the soul of the place, although much has fallen away. Construction of the 747 plant in the late 1960s backfilled jobs lost at the Weyerhaeuser B and Lowell paper mills.
Downtown began its early death rattle after the Everett Mall was completed in 1974. Every decade, the mayor, City Council and business honchos rage against the dying of the light, and at times they succeed in the push-pull to invigorate the heart of town.
“I feel Everett is on the verge,” said Scott Murphy, a member of the City Council appointed to fill the position of Arlan Hatloe, who resigned last year. Murphy, who is seeking election to a full term, is a former Safeco VP and, since 2008, the chief operating officer at Everett’s Goldfinch Brothers. His community service record is impressive, from the Everett Planning Commission and the Greater Everett Community Foundation, to serving as president of the Everett Public Schools Foundation and the North Everett Little League.
Murphy has defied skeptics who advocated for the appointment of neighborhood activist June Robinson by becoming an engaged councilmember who asks tough questions. This was on display in the clean-up and air-quality bird-dogging related to the Kimberly-Clark mill site. The incisive questions came from Brenda Stonecipher, Paul Roberts and Murphy.
Murphy’s business-savvy leadership style and nonprofit-board experience also gives him an edge with city budgeting, particularly on politically sensitive questions of public safety. Murphy deserves the support of voters.
Murphy’s opponent, music teacher Jackie Minchew, would make a wonderful member of the council, a creative addition to an often staid body. But Minchew, who has run before, doesn’t present a compelling argument for unseating Murphy. Minchew decided to run to provide voters a choice, and that’s consistent with his MO as a workhorse volunteer, civic booster and Lowell neighborhood leader. We’d encourage Minchew to apply for the appointment to replace Councilmember Shannon Affholter, who is leaving to run the Master Builders Association.
Murphy highlights the need to enhance the South Everett Library, just one measure (we hope for many more) to improve the city’s north-south economic and political divide. And here’s some unsolicited advice: Carpe diem. Get things done. Ask the hard questions and demand results on everything from combined sewer overflows to parks funding. Since the time Bob Best was The Herald’s publisher in the 1970s, candidates have repeated the hopeful mantra, “Everett is on the verge.” Make it happen, and we can pitch the Edward Hopper painting.