Accountant picked for Everett council seat

EVERETT — An accountant with a long history of civic engagement beat a half-dozen finalists Wednesday to be appointed to Shannon Affholter’s former City Council seat.

Council members who supported Rich Anderson praised the lifelong Everett resident’s background. They said he was the candidate best prepared to help shore up city finances at a time when Mayor Ray Stephanson is pushing for long-term financial fixes.

“I am honored to be selected,” Anderson said afterward. “There’s not a bigger fan of Everett than I am. I have served all of my adult life in one capacity or another.”

Anderson is scheduled to be sworn in at the next council session at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

While Anderson’s appointment pleased some, there was audible disappointment in the audience at council chambers from those who backed candidates they said would broaden the council’s diversity in terms of gender, geography and age.

Anderson, 59, a 1972 Everett High School graduate, has been a partner at an Everett accounting firm Hascal, Sjoholm and Co. for 30 years. His long record of civic engagement includes service on advisory boards for business, government and charities. He lives in the Northwest Neighborhood.

The vacancy for council’s Position 7 opened up because of Affholter’s resignation at the end of October to take a job as executive director of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. Two years remain on Affholter’s term.

Anderson’s appointment will extend through the November 2014 election, when voters will get to decide who fills out the next year. An election for the full, four-year term is set for 2015.

Anderson said he intends to run to retain the seat.

Twelve people applied for Affholter’s seat. Last week, the council narrowed the field to seven contenders and scheduled interviews Wednesday with the finalists: June Robinson, Elly Smith, Judy Tuohy, Art Thomson, Megan Dunn and Kim Nielsen.

On Tuesday, Robinson announced she would not seek the city appointment so she can pursue a potential open seat in the state House of Representatives. There’s no House opening yet, but one’s expected in the 38th Legislative District as part of the fallout from state Sen. Nick Harper’s surprise resignation Saturday. State Reps. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, and Mike Sells, D-Everett, are considered top contenders for Harper’s old job.

Everett City Council seats are nonpartisan.

In the first round of balloting, Anderson received support from three of six council members. Tuohy received two and Smith one. In the next round, Councilman Ron Gipson changed his vote from Smith to Anderson.

Council members Paul Roberts and Brenda Stonecipher held out for Tuohy, but ultimately voted to support for Anderson’s appointment.

Much of the discussion centered around diversity. Gipson, who is the only non-white council member, said they should consider all forms of diversity, including occupation. As a juvenile corrections officer, Gipson said he also represents blue-collar workers.

“We have diversity up here,” he said.

Stonecipher said she was in awkward position, since she would never want to see a token woman appointed solely on the basis of gender. However, she went on to add that women tend to arrive at decisions through a different thought process.

“There is some merit to the idea that the council should represent the city more broadly,” she said.

Angela Krisinger was one of the Everett taxpayers urging the council to pick a female candidate. Before the vote, she said it was sad the city even needed to have the discussion.

“Every woman in that pool of candidates is qualified to do that job,” she said. “Because of that, they need to give us a seat at the table.”

This is the third appointment for an Everett City Council vacancy during the past 18 months.

This time around, the council weathered a growing chorus of demands that the appointment increase diversity on the council, particularly with regard to gender.

The council passed over Robinson for a separate appointment in January, to appoint then-Planning Commissioner Scott Murphy. Voters elected Murphy to the job on Nov. 5.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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