Everett City Council districts shifted the political landscape this election season, with three incumbents bowing out from seeking re-election. (City of Everett)

Everett City Council districts shifted the political landscape this election season, with three incumbents bowing out from seeking re-election. (City of Everett)

Contested races suggest Everett districts working as planned

This year’s elections will be the first for voters to choose City Council members from districts.

EVERETT — The first year with City Council districts has brought a sea change.

Of the five Everett City Council positions up for election this year, three won’t have incumbent candidates. Longtime councilmen Scott Bader, Jeff Moore and Scott Murphy all bowed out of re-election campaigns this year, and two of them said districts were at least a factor in their decisions.

Their absences created opportunities for several first-time candidates. There are challengers for every district, including two primary elections. Those were goals for district supporters who started organizing almost five years ago, after several elections when an incumbent was the only name on the ballot.

“I think it’s going to bring new folks to the table and I think we’re already seeing that,” said Simone Tarver, who was appointed to the city’s districting commission and is an executive committee member of NAACP Snohomish County, which endorsed the change to districts. “One thing that is often brought up is different areas of our city have different needs.”

In 2018, Everett voters approved the switch to five City Council districts, plus two at-large positions. Before, all council members were elected at-large. All terms remained four years. Then it was up to a commission appointed by city elected officials to shape the districts, which it finalized at the end of 2020.

Each district has around 20,000 residents, roughly splitting the city’s population equally.

Tarver applied for appointment to the districting commission because she wanted to “put an equity lens” to the process and the outcome.

Supporters of City Council districts touted improved representation for areas south of 41st Street, colloquially considered the north-south dividing line.

With council members historically from the city’s north end, “it makes sense investment and attention” is there, she said. A lifelong Everett resident, Tarver saw districts as a way to get elected representatives who would know what life was like across the city.

That was part of the reason Everett City Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher was an early supporter of the changeover.

“The base of the city council was really concentrated in an area that was not really representing everybody,” she said.

Stonecipher, now in her fourth term, liked the goal to make council elections more diverse. With smaller districts instead of citywide positions, the cost of a campaign could be lower, making it more accessible to seek office.

“It’s just nice that our citizens and voters have good choices and enough of them,” she said. “There have been many years when our council races were uncontested.”

That includes Stonecipher’s last election in 2019, when she and Councilwoman Judy Tuohy were the only candidates for the at-large positions. Tuohy also won election in 2015 without a challenger. Two of three City Council elections in 2013 went uncontested as well.

Six of the candidates this year said districting prompted them to seek office.

“There’s no walkaway race there,” Stonecipher said.

Stonecipher had hoped for more candidates. Tarver said she wants to see more diverse candidates for a city that is 15% Hispanic or Latino, 9% Asian, and almost 5% Black or African American, according to U.S. Census data.

“I think the piece that we’re still missing is getting more diverse candidates,” Tarver said.

District changes could be ahead as the U.S. Census data from last year becomes available. If population numbers within districts shift enough, they could be redrawn for the 2023 election.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Craig Hess (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)
Sultan’s new police chief has 22 years in law enforcement

Craig Hess was sworn in Sep. 14. The Long Island-born cop was a first-responder on 9/11. He also served as Gold Bar police chief.

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Woman killed in crash on Highway 99 in Lynnwood

Police closed off Highway 99 between 188th Street SW and 196th Street SW while they investigated.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Most Read