EVERETT — Local candidates sparred over solutions to housing affordability and opioid addiction — issues that have dominated recent election seasons — at a forum hosted by the Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County on Thursday.
Since he began leading the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in 2013, Ty Trenary, who is running for re-election, has worked to find ways to divert people from jail and the streets, into long-term recovery for addiction and mental illness, he said.
“The old days of a pair of handcuffs and a trip to jail, which I used quite frankly all the time, have proven not to work,” Trenary said.
“We see recidivism rates at an all-time high.”
Housing is a critical piece of making an impact on homelessness, Trenary said, and to get more supportive housing units in the county, regulations need to be relaxed to make it easier to build them.
His challenger, sheriff’s Sgt. Adam Fortney, said he would take a different approach, one that would step up enforcement.
Fortney has worked in the sheriff’s office for more than 20 years and before his campaign started he was the longtime union president for the Snohomish County Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Bringing people to the jail and “disrupting the cycle” could encourage individuals suffering from substance abuse to make a change, he said.
“Hopefully they detox a little … and we have those services available,” Fortney said.
Everett councilmember Scott Bader, who has been serving since 2012, is facing public school teacher Joseph Erikson.
To increase housing affordability, Bader sees solutions in continuing to push for more condo liability reform to increase multifamily housing. He also supports passing a countywide housing levy.
He said he would consider adding more resources for people experiencing homelessness, but emphasized the need to gain public buy-in for those type of projects before moving forward.
“Community support is vital,” he said.
Erikson, who was at his day job, sent a surrogate, Douglas Evans. Evans said the candidate believes supportive housing must be allowed to be built. Erikson favors a Housing Hope and Everett School District project for homeless families with kids in the district.
The project, which had both critics and supporters, was halted when the Everett City Council placed a moratorium on supportive housing in single-family areas earlier this year.
Evans, who is a volunteer with Erikson’s campaign, also said repurposing city-owned golf courses could also aide in housing affordability.
“There are a lot of developable acres not being utilized,” Evans said.
Councilmember Liz Vogeli, who is running for re-election, said she supports regional cooperation to tackle housing affordability pointing to a task force the county formed this year.
She plans to draw on her experience of homelessness in her youth and struggles she faced as a single mom.
Her challenger, small-business owner Marian LaFountaine, said she has worked with and served homeless people. To address housing affordability, she said she would first take the time to learn about the issue.
“I would find out what is being done now, and try to get information on the whole nature of what is going on,” LaFountaine said.
Everett Councilmembers Brenda Stonecipher and Judy Tuohy are up for re-election this year, but neither is facing a challenger.
County Council candidates Megan Dunn and Anna Rohrbough also spoke at the housing forum.