EVERETT — Jackie Minchew might be the only candidate in Everett history who admits right up front that he’s got no chance of winning a seat on the City Council.
He’s hardly raised any money. He’s lost three other attempts at a council seat.
And he’s facing incumbent Shannon Affholter, an affable, good-looking business executive whom voters and the business community seem to like.
So why do it?
“I didn’t want to see him run without an opponent,” said Minchew, an elementary school music teacher.
And there’s another, more important reason for Minchew: the fact the world will have less oil in the future than it did in the past. It seems like a big topic for local politics, but Minchew believes even city decisions need to be considered through the lens of peak oil.
“Nobody thinks about how pervasive oil is in our lives,” he said. “It’s in our pharmaceuticals, our clothing, our cosmetics — everything is steeped in oil.”
He wonders, for instance, why the city, and economists in general, always assume economic growth is infinite in what he called a finite world.
Minchew’s concern has led him to help found Transition Port Gardner, an Everett group focused on declining fuel supplies, global climate change and economic instability.
His beliefs also led him to hop on a plane and fly to Washington, D.C., in August so he could get arrested outside the White House while protesting a proposed tar sands oil pipeline. He succeeded.
Minchew knows his views aren’t palatable to many mainstream voters; still, he’s trying. He’s knocked on plenty of doors and changed some voters’ minds, he said. He has better luck when he can talk to people face-to-face.
He remains unapologetic for adhering to his convictions.
Affholter currently serves as the City Council president, which his colleagues selected him for. It’s a position he said he takes seriously.
“I try to maintain a respectful council,” he said. “For me, it’s very important other differences are valued. We may not always agree but I want my colleagues to feel they are respected.”
If re-elected, he said, he would continue to pursue a disciplined financial approach. Nearly all the candidates running for a City Council seat in Everett this fall either support the idea that improving downtown is an important investment for attracting employers or reject that idea in favor of financing just the essentials.
Affholter takes probably the most moderate approach. He agrees on infrastructure upgrades and streetscape improvements such the one completed recently on Hoyt Avenue. The city ought to hold back on projects such as the city’s decision to spend more than a $1 million to fix up a city-owned former bank building so it could be leased by the Village Theatre for its Youth Education Center.
While that center will serve a lot of kids, it might have served a lot more by upgrading the Evergreen library branch in South Everett, which is badly in need of an expansion, he said.
He also thinks the city should make sure Everett is an attractive place to do business by serving as an advocate of aerospace, for instance, and making sure local taxes are favorable to business.
He’s most proud of the investments the city has made so far — he provided a long list that included parks and police — without laying off any city staff or significantly reducing city services.
“We’ve been able to do a lot with very little by being strategic,” he said.
Affholter has raised a reported $24,600 for his campaign. That’s more than double what just about everybody else running for Everett City Council has raised. He’s pulled in money from business leaders, the firefighters union and many prominent members of the community such as former Mayor Ed Hansen.
Minchew chose to not report his campaign contributions, an option for candidates that expect to raise less than $5,000. He said he raised about $300.
Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or email@example.com
Everett City Council, Position 7: Meet the candidates
Occupation: business development executive at Moss Adams
Priorities: Continue to pursue a disciplined financial approach and seek opportunities to save taxpayers money; make strategic investments, such as infrastructure and educational programs, that will make enable Everett to remain competitive with other cities in the Puget Sound region; advocate for public safety funding.
Occupation: music teacher
Priorities: Raise awareness about peak oil.