Everett City Council districts could look like this next year when voters choose representatives from these areas for the first time. (City of Everett)

Everett City Council districts could look like this next year when voters choose representatives from these areas for the first time. (City of Everett)

City council districts nearly set, await Everett council’s OK

Barring a legal challenge or surprise, the city council should approve the district map this week.

EVERETT — Barring a surprise legal challenge or snag, Everett’s first city council district map is set.

With an 8-1 vote last week, the Everett Districting Commission approved the five city council district shapes after crafting the map. The Everett City Council is expected to approve the new alignment Wednesday.

Next year will be the first time Everett voters can cast ballots for positions 1 through 5 by district. In 2023, at-large positions 6 and 7 held by Brenda Stonecipher and Judy Tuohy are up for election. City council positions are four-year terms. The mayor’s office remains a citywide election.

“I’m really excited to see districting roll out,” commission chairperson Simone Tarver said. “I’m hoping to see more local representation than we’ve seen.”

The districts generally follow neighborhood boundaries but are determined by population. Most neighborhoods are intact, but several are split across adjacent boundaries.

District 1: Northwest, Delta, Riverside and Bayside.

District 2: Bayside, Riverside, Port Gardner, Glacier View, Lowell, Valley View, South Forest Park and Pinehurst-Beverly Park.

District 3: Boulevard Bluffs, Harborview-Seahurst-Glenhaven, View Ridge-Madison, Evergreen and South Forest Park.

District 4: Westmont, Holly, Cascade View and Twin Creeks.

District 5: Cascade View, Pinehurst-Beverly Park, Cascade View, Twin Creeks and Silver Lake.

District 5 has the highest population at 20,988 people. District 3 has the smallest population at 19,765.

Map A-9 is a slight revision of the one proposed this summer during public comment sessions. Precinct 40, which runs southeast of Evergreen Way and along Dorn Avenue to Everett Mall Way in the Cascade View neighborhood, was moved from District 4 into District 5 to account for projected growth and lower the population deviation across the map.

“All in all, it’s extremely similar,” city staff liaison Nichole Webber said.

People began campaigning for city council districts a few years ago, before 55.86% of voters approved the current configuration in November 2018. Recurring criticism about council members historically living north of 41st Street and the desire for better demographic and geographic representation, and ideally civic engagement and voter turnout, motivated the Everett Districts Now effort. Critics often note that three city council members live in the Northwest neighborhood, though each council member is appointed to serve as a liaison to different neighborhood associations.

The process and final map drew criticism for its public involvement and not heeding desires for two northern districts split east from west along Broadway.

“I can say I’m disappointed it wasn’t a more democratic process, in my view,” said Lois Wentink, chairwoman of the Everett Districts Now ad-hoc committee. “We would’ve liked to have seen changes in the map that reflected input from people in the Delta neighborhood.”

In written comments from the public feedback meetings several people asked why a district along the Snohomish River wasn’t included.

Pamela Lynn, secretary for the Riverside Neighborhood Association, wrote about feeling like some commission members were set on the proposed map and wouldn’t fully consider public input. She also wrote that she supported map A-9.

“It left me feeling unheard,” she wrote.

A district east of Broadway met the districting commission’s criteria for compactness, which can keep district shapes from becoming unnaturally jagged or irregular by following natural geographic, artificial, or political subdivision boundaries. It also can prevent gerrymandered districts, and is part of the Washington state constitution for congressional and legislative districts.

“I don’t believe we all still completely agree, but I do believe we all are proud of the work,” commission member Benjamin Young said.

“When you’re making big changes, it never is easy to do,” Ethel McNeal said.

Districting commission member Mary Fosse cast the lone vote against recommending the map to the city council for approval. She said she knew her vote wouldn’t derail the process but was made “because of what could have been,” and over a “lack of public involvement.” She implored people to apply for city boards, commissions and council positions.

Commission members thanked city staff, districting master Tony Fairfax, their fellow commission members, people who pushed for districting, and people who participated in the districting process.

“It really just warms (the) heart with hope that so many people still care to go out of their way and learn about this valuable process,” Fosse said. “While the final outcome may not be what some of you have wished, I hope we can still celebrate in what progress we made.”

Already a candidate has emerged for District 2 months before the official filing period in mid-May. Paula Rhyne told The Daily Herald she wants to represent the district that spans the Glacier View, Lowell, Pinehurst-Beverly Park, Port Gardner, South Forest Park and Valley View neighborhoods.

She is a legislative aide for Snohomish County Councilwoman Megan Dunn, who spearheaded the Everett Districts Now campaign. Rhyne said she voted for the five city council districts in 2018 because it allows for more adequate and deliberate representation.

That none of the current city council members live in the to-be affirmed district was one reason Rhyne announced her candidacy this early.

The city is supposed to convene a redistricting commission in January 2022 and use 2020 Census data to determine what, if any, changes are required for the districts.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

Correction: An earlier version misstated the compactness of a riverside city council district.

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