Cities throughout Snohomish County, Washington state, and these United States have moved smoothly into the 21st century in many ways. Very high in importance today is fairly and equitably diversifying governments and elected councils to better reflect our rapidly changing American population. However, Everett is not one of these cities.
Although we are 13 years into this new century, Everett’s City Council majority refuses to go there. We know this is a fact after watching the recent rather backward motion vote to fill an open council seat after a member found he could not or would not complete his full term. When presented with a full dozen qualified applicants, half of whom were highly suitable, well educated, determined and passionate women, any one of whom could have filled the empty seat with aplomb, the council majority — nice men in suits — chose the other nice man in a suit. This is someone who looks just like them, thinks just like them, and who will surely do the task required, but just like them, when this city demands alternatives in approach, viewpoint, perspective and solutions not found among middle class white men, nice though they may be, they will be lacking.
Upon hearing numerous citizens speak in support of adding a second woman member to Everett’s council and the necessity, wisdom and fairness in doing so, councilmember Gipson complained that “we do have diversity up here!” offering himself and councilmember Stonecipher as examples. What Everett’s council has is tokenism, not diversity, as any Everett 6th Grader can tell you.
Although Everett overall seems to be moving into the 21st century smoothly, one would hope that its Boys Club city council might see the wisdom and virtue of doing so also, and we may in due time see a second and then a third female or person of color on the dais at 3002 Wetmore each Wednesday evening. But citizens, don’t hold your breath, and be prepared for a long campaign to achieve an alternative to this current truly embarrassing squandering of a golden opportunity.