(Sue Misao / The Herald)

(Sue Misao / The Herald)

7 highlights and trends in Snohomish County’s hyper-local election

Among them: Mayoral duels, big money, the rise of youth and the return of veteran politicians.

Mayoral match-ups. School board clashes. Returning veteran politicians. Rising youth.

All can be found in Tuesday’s election.

It is an “off year.” Voters are choosing leaders of cities, school districts, water districts, fire commissions, ports and the county. They also are acting on fire levies and weighing in on housing and fireworks.

Here are seven things we’ll be watching when the first returns are posted Tuesday night:

Fight for Snohomish

Mayor John Kartak and City Council President Linda Redmon are locked in a battle that might hinge not on what either wants to do in the future, but on how voters grade Kartak’s recent history — chiefly, his performance on the May weekend in 2020. Crowds of people gathered downtown, carrying guns, in response to an unconfirmed rumor that an anti-fascist group planned to loot businesses. Kartak wants to get past it. Redmon wants voters to remember it.

Kartak, a conservative Republican, and Redmon, a liberal Democrat, do offer voters a contrast in personal style and political philosophy for the nonpartisan office. Neither got elected by much in 2017. Kartak was elected mayor by a mere 80 votes, while Redmon won her council seat by an even slimmer margin of 67 votes.

Mayoral rematch

In Mukilteo, two-term Mayor Jennifer Gregerson faces the two-term mayor she unseated in 2013, Joe Marine, who now serves on the City Council.

These two have established track records in the community. Their differences on policy and practice are numerous. They’re also partisans — she’s a solid Democrat and he’s a reliable Republican — though it is a nonpartisan post. Anyone who’s lived in town long knows what each brings to the table. Voters need to decide if they like the course they’re on, or the one they took before.

Neighborhood watch

History will be made Tuesday when, for the first time, voters will elect people to the Everett City Council from districts rather than citywide. Five seats are on the ballot. Only two contests involve incumbents. So no matter what happens, the council will be getting at least three new members.

In District 1, Councilman Paul Roberts, who first got elected in 2006, faces Mary Fosse, a legislative aide to Democratic state Rep. Emily Wicks. This is a bit of a family matter among Democrats, with many of the region’s party leaders siding with one or the other.

In District 4, Councilwoman Liz Vogeli, a community organizer, is up against Tommie Rubatino, a youth pastor. They are vying for votes in a district with the fewest registered voters — fewer than 10,000 — who are proving to be slow to vote: Less than 10% had returned ballots by Friday.

A good investment?

Those who buy, develop and sell property in the rapidly growing haven of Lake Stevens are very concerned about how this year’s City Council contests could turn out. They’ve spent roughly $100,000 on mailers and newspaper ads backing the incumbents — Councilmen Kim Daughtry, Gary Petershagen, Steve Ewing and Marcus Tageant — who face challengers Michele Hampton, Joyce Copley, Jessica Wadhams and Joseph Jensen, respectively.

The Washington Realtors political action committee is in for $60,000. A group largely funded by a national electrical contractors group and a political committee formed by local development forces, Responsible Economic Growth in our Neighborhood, are each in for about $15,000. Wadhams has collected $11,360 in contributions, the most of any challenger and, interestingly, more than either Ewing or Tageant raised on their own.

Culture clash in the classroom

What happens in the school board races this week could be a harbinger of the political climate next year.

These usually mundane affairs attracted candidates from the ideological right and left. This school board election season has become a proxy battleground for the culture war over COVID-19 mandates, the teaching of racial history and the content of sex education curricula. Tuesday will provide an early measure of the energy level of those forces entering 2022, when legislative and congressional seats will be on the ballot.

Youth movement

Joshua Binda is 21 and competing with Lisa Utter for a seat on the Lynnwood City Council. If he wins, he’ll be the youngest person of color to ever serve on the council. Jordan Sears is 22. He is a member of the Gold Bar City Council. On Tuesday, he is hoping to become the city’s youngest-ever mayor in a race against Steven Yarbrough, also a councilman.

Binda and Sears aren’t the only 20-somethings on the ballot. Snohomish County Councilmembers Nate Nehring, a Republican, and Jared Mead, a Democrat, are also in their 20s. Both are heavily favored to win re-election and help cement the next generation’s grip on power in the county.

Back to the future

If you thought you read a lot of familiar names on the ballot this cycle, you did.

To wit: Shirley Sutton and Utter in Lynnwood, Neil Tibbott in Edmonds, Karen Guzak in Snohomish and Kevin Stoltz and Steve Schmalz in Mukilteo.

Every one of them served on the council in their respective city at some point in the recent past. Every one is out of office now and trying to get back in. Each has their reasons for wanting to return.


Ballots are due by 8 p.m. Tuesday. They can be returned by mail postage-free or deposited in one of the county’s designated drop boxes. If you mail it in, it must be postmarked no later than Nov. 2 to be counted.

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com; 360-352-8623; Twitter: @dospueblos

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