Election drama begins as candidates file for dozens of races

Lots of hopefuls jumped in, especially when the current office holder was on the way out.

Election drama begins as candidates file for dozens of races

EVERETT — There’s going to be plenty of drama this election season in Snohomish County — though not for most of those already in office.

Crowds of candidates filed to run for open seats on school boards, city councils and mayors’ offices by Friday afternoon’s deadline.

Eight people are vying for an opening on the County Council, five for a seat on the Marysville council, and three to be the next Edmonds mayor, to name a few.

But most incumbents didn’t draw opponents. For them, re-election is pretty much assured, barring a challenge from a write-in candidate.

This year, there are 188 positions in local government and special districts up for election. The primary is Aug. 6 and the general election is Nov. 5.

If there are three or more candidates in a race, only the top two finishers will advance to the fall ballot.

Here’s a rundown of candidate filings for some of the higher-profile posts.

Snohomish County

The most competitive race — and the one on which the balance of power hinges — is for the District 2 seat on the County Council.

Seven Democrats and one Republican are vying to replace Councilman Brian Sullivan, a Democrat, who must give it up due to term limits. The top two finishers in the primary will face off in the fall.

Anna Rohrbough, a Mukilteo councilwoman, is the lone GOP hopeful. The Democrats include Jennifer Gregerson, the current Mukilteo mayor; Cecilia Wilson, who works for County Executive Dave Somers; Megan Dunn, a former leader of the Everett Districts Now campaign; Alex Lark, an employee with an affordable housing nonprofit and an Army reservist; Louis Harris, a state Department of Social and Health Services employee who is active in local civil rights issues; Tyler Verda, a county human services employee whose campaign has strong union support; and Sharita Burton, who runs a marketing business and has been involved in efforts to revitalize Everett’s Broadway corridor.

Currently, Democrats hold a 3-2 advantage on the council. If Rohrbough manages to overcome Democrats’ historic strength in the district and win, it’ll give Republicans their first council majority since 2005.

Democratic Councilwoman Stephanie Wright of Lynnwood is seeking a third term. She’ll face two challengers. Meier Lowenthal also is a Democrat. Willie Russell, a Democratic precinct committee officer, chose not to affiliate with a party on the ballot. Russell, an outspoken critic of political leaders, is a registered sex offender. He was convicted on a rape charge in 1989.

Meanwhile, Somers didn’t draw an opponent, putting him on course to secure a second term without a ballot battle.


In Edmonds, there’s competition to succeed Mayor Dave Earling, who plans to step down at the end of the year. Councilmembers Kristiana Johnson, Neil Tibbott and Mike Nelson are vying for the job, as is urban planner Brad Shipley.

There are two candidates competing for each of the four Edmonds council seats as well.

Edmonds School Board President Diana White is seeking one of them and will face off with a former school board member, Susan Paine.

White’s decision to run for City Council created an opening and four people filed to run for her seat.

Board director Gary Noble, who recently voted to lay off more than two-dozen teachers to manage a budget shortfall, drew four challengers.

Carin Chase, who opposed the layoffs, is being challenged by Alvin Rutledge Jr.


Former mayor Joe Marine is looking to get back into politics. He’s competing for the same open city council seat as Kristina Melnichenko and Tina Over, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2017. It is one of four Mukilteo City Council seats up for election this year.

Meanwhile, incumbent City Councilmen Scott Whelpley and Richard Emery, who frequently disagree on the direction of the city, will compete against each other for Position 4. Charles Eakins is also seeking the seat which became open when Councilman Steve Schmalz decided not to run again.

Whelpley, who now holds Position 5, said he wasn’t going to run again, then changed his mind and filed for the open seat. Emery filed for re-election in Position 6 but withdrew from that race Friday and filed to take on Whelpley.

Riaz Khan and his wife, Ayesha Khan, are seeking the seat now held by Whelpley. So too are Christopher Maddux and James Yoo. Both Yoo and Riaz Khan have made previous runs for City Council.

Controversial aerospace executive Peter Zieve also changed races Friday. He had been seeking Schmalz’s seat but withdrew and filed for the seat Emery will be giving up. Exekiel Aranez, Elisabeth Crawford and Amy Schaper also filed for this contest.


Changes in leadership loom with competition for all four city council positions on the ballot.

Councilwoman Shirley Sutton shook things up Friday when she didn’t file to keep her seat but did sign up to run against a fellow councilwoman, Shannon Sessions, for Position 7. Maggie Mae also filed in that race.

Meanwhile, six people filed for the opening in Position 4 created by Sutton’s action.

Lake Stevens

In Lake Stevens, two councilmen are vying to be the next mayor. Mayor John Spencer plans to retire at the end of the year. Candidate Kurt Hilt works as a firefighter-paramedic and his rival, Brett Gailey, is an Everett police officer.

Three council positions are contested in the city.

On the Lake Stevens School Board, two positions have attracted multiple candidates. Only one person filed for a third seat.


Five people filed to run for the Marysville City Council position now held by Rob Toyer, who is running for county treasurer. Sullivan, the term-limited county councilman, also is trying for the treasurer’s job.

Two City Council incumbents are running to keep their seats. One drew a challenger, the other did not.

Mayor Jon Nehring will face one opponent, Michael Patrick.


Mayor John Seehuus’ path to re-election is being challenged by City Councilmen Rocky Walker and Russell Wiita.


City Councilmembers Brenda Stonecipher and Judy Tuohy did not draw any opposition.

Councilman Scott Bader, who has served since 2012, will have a foe, Joseph Erikson, a high school teacher. So will Councilwoman Liz Vogeli. She won a special election last fall to complete an unexpired term and is being challenged by Marian LaFountaine.

Both of those contested races are for two-year terms as the city starts transitioning from at-large council seats to districts in 2021.

Two Everett School Board positions are contested.

Port of Everett Commissioner Bruce Fingarson drew two opponents, Jeff LaLone and David Simpson, a former Everett councilman and state lawmaker.

Fellow commissioner Glen Bachman is unchallenged.


Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert is running for re-election against Don Vanney, Jr.

Only one of three city council contests is contested.

Stanwood-Camano School District

Four of the five Stanwood-Camano School Board seats are up for election and all attracted two or more candidates.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Correction: An earlier version did not include Alvin Rutledge Jr., a candidate for the Edmonds School Board.

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