EVERETT — The conversation about districting isn’t over in Everett.
Instead, supporters are realizing they might need a two-year plan.
The grassroots group Everett Districts Now originally aimed to get a measure on the ballot for the general election this November. It sought to draw five of the seven council seats from districts, instead of all at-large positions.
The group gathered about 3,000 signatures, less than half of what was required.
On July 31, the Everett City Council voted 5-2 against pursuing this version of districting. Instead, council members may schedule additional discussion later this year to consider other options for creating districts.
The Everett Districts Now team hasn’t decided what happens next, said Megan Dunn, a leader with the group. They haven’t stopped collecting signatures, and they are likely to consider pursuing the petition in 2018.
“We have plenty of signatures,” Dunn said. “We’ve done all the work. We’ve done all the research and people want it on the ballot.”
The number of needed signatures will be much lower next year. The requirement for petitions is based on turnout in the last election. For 2017, that meant a presidential election, when more people tend to cast ballots than they do in off-years.
Everett Districts Now counted dozens of supporters at a July 31 City Council meeting, and its speakers far outnumbered those there in opposition. The League of Women Voters and the local chapter of the NAACP were on board.
The discussion was fiery at times, with yelling and singing, and with many folks quoting American Revolution-era thinkers. Those in favor of districting say it would provide more representation to all parts of the city. Critics question whether it’s the right solution at the right time.
“The first part of the meeting was inspiring and then after the council members spoke, people were deflated and outraged and just upset,” Dunn said. “I saw tears in people’s eyes.”
Most council members had concerns, particularly about the size and shape of the proposed districts, and how boundary lines would fall among neighborhoods. Only Brenda Stonecipher and Judy Tuohy, who is running for mayor, voted in support of the petition.
“There is no perfect plan …,” Tuohy said at the time. “This plan, if approved by voters, will provide the framework for more inclusion and civic participation throughout our city.”
Fellow mayoral contender and councilwoman Cassie Franklin finished with a small lead over Tuohy in primary election results. Both will advance to the general election.
Before voting against the districting proposal last month, Franklin talked at length about her reasons for holding off.
“I want to get it right,” Franklin said. “I don’t want to get it almost right.”