EVERETT — The primary race for Position 3 on the Everett City Council includes an incumbent who leads one of the city’s oldest businesses, a college worker and a high school German teacher.
Scott Murphy, 55, is seeking re-election. He’s president and CEO for Goldfinch Brothers, an Everett glass company that’s been around for 125 years. He’s also a CPA and chairman of the city council’s budget committee. He’s served on the planning commission and has been president of the Everett Public Schools Foundation and North Everett Little League. He’s also been chairman of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County and was on a mayor’s long-term planning committee.
Jonathan Peebles, 22, is a program coordinator with the Global Affairs Center at Shoreline Community College and sergeant at arms for the 38th Legislative District Democrats. He’s interested in having the city consider a minimum wage increase to get people “on the right track to afford housing” and he wants the city to form an advisory committee on renewable energy options.
Jennifer Hesse, 35, teaches German at Henry M. Jackson High School and is a relative newcomer to the city. Though the council seat is nonpartisan, she openly discusses her Libertarian leanings. On her campaign’s Facebook page, she includes a quote from Calvin Coolidge. It says: “What we need is not more federal government, but better local government.” She said volunteers in many cases can pick up some of the slack to save the city money.
Murphy touts his small business experience. “I’m really the only council member who works in small business and I think that’s very important to have right now on the council,” he said.
He’s concerned about the city’s operations budget and points to Initiative 747, which limits growth in property tax revenue to 1 percent a year. That can be particularly challenging because property tax is the city’s biggest revenue source, accounting for about one third of the operating budget. Expenses typically increase by 3 percent to 4 percent annually.
“We must be more efficient in the way we deliver services,” he said.
Peebles has lived in north and south Everett as well as downtown. He said he can speak for those who have to move around because of rising rents and who have lived in tough neighborhoods where safety was a constant concern. He believes his background could bring an important and under-represented voice to the council.
Hesse said she would push for better communication and transparency. “It is important for people to know they are being heard,” she said.
Hesse and Peebles point to the decision to place low-barrier housing for homeless people off Berkshire Drive. Both said they have visited the neighborhood. Peebles wondered if the city might want to consider building anew on land in northeast Everett where the Baker Heights subsidized housing now stands. The 244-unit housing project owned and managed by the Everett Housing Authority is mostly composed of converted barracks that date from the World War II era. Because of its poor condition, the housing authority is unable to use federal funds to renovate the existing housing.
The Berkshire site straddles the Pinehurst and Glacier View neighborhoods. The city proposes to erect a four-story 70-unit building to house the most vulnerable elements of the city’s homeless population. Mayor Ray Stephanson has backed the project but has said he regrets not reaching out to neighbors earlier in the process.
Hesse called the lack of forewarning appalling.
Murphy said the city could have done a better job letting neighbors know about the proposal earlier, but said that was an administrative responsibility, not a legislative one.
All three candidates are open to some form of creating city council districts, but Murphy opposes a recent proposal from the grassroots group Everett Districts Now. It wants to divide the city into five council districts with two at-large positions. The group says six of the seven city council members now live north of 41st Street.
Murphy said he would want a public process for redrawing boundaries and one that would try to avoid splitting existing neighborhoods. He’d also like to see some flexibility that could perhaps allow people from all parts of the city to vote on a candidate in the general election within each geographic district.
“For me, it’s a heavy price to pay when you have to trade in seven votes and you only get three back,” he said.
Peebles said he has campaigned for the pro-districting effort and likes the idea of knowing each part of the city would have representation.
A position on the Everett City Council position pays $28,163 a year. The city has 55,120 eligible voters.
To learn more about the candidates, go to:
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.