Everett council challenger Cassie Franklin winning big over Gipson

EVERETT — Cocoon House leader Cassie Franklin on Tuesday was soundly beating enbattled five-term incumbent Councilman Ron Gipson, who spent much of the campaign fending off accusations of sexual harassment at his day job.

Franklin, in her first bid for a council seat, garnered 66 percent to Gipson’s 33.4 percent in votes tallied Tuesday.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Franklin, the chief executive officer of the organization that provides services for homeless youth. “I’m very humbled by the support we’ve seen in this campaign.”

In other City Council races, incumbents Scott Bader and Brenda Stonecipher also were winning handily.

Bader led challenger Charlene Rawson, 57.4 percent to 42.1 percent, and Stonecipher collected 65 percent to challenger Erik Richerson’s 35 percent.

Councilwoman Judy Tuohy was unopposed and won a full four-year term Tuesday. She joined the council in 2014 by defeating Richard Anderson in a special election.

The Snohomish County Auditor’s Office plans to release updated election totals by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

If Tuesday’s results hold, the Everett City Council will soon be without a Gipson family member for the first time in nearly half a century.

Ron Gipson was elected in 1995, succeeding his father, Carl, who retired after 24 years on the council.

This year the younger Gipson was seeking a sixth term. But he competed under the cloud of accusations related to his work as a corrections officer at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center. He was on paid administrative leave for 18 months before returning to his job in September.

An investigation found Gipson and other Denney employees made sexually suggestive and racially inappropriate comments in violation of workplace rules. During the campaign, Gipson held a public forum and devoted a page on his campaign website refuting the accusations, even those upheld in the investigation.

Gipson did not return phone calls Tuesday night.

He campaigned on his record, stressing his efforts to be a voice for Everett’s working-class, increase funding for public transit, make city parks and public services accessible to all, and rein in utility costs.

Franklin felt her performance reflected a message that resonated with voters.

“I have the unique qualifications for what the city needs right now to deal with the challenges it is facing,” she said from her home where she celebrated the results with family and friends.

She said she planned to find solutions to two difficult challenges facing the city — its homeless population and street crime.

She raised nearly twice as much money as Gipson in the campaign. Franklin collected $34,320 to Gibson’s $16,583 in the latest totals reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Bader, currently serving as council president, won a special election in 2012 after the death of Councilman Drew Nielsen. This will be his first full four-year term.

He has said he’ll look for ways to invest in neighborhood parks and fund the expansion of the South Everett library.

Rawson, a supporter of district elections, had said the city needs to devote more resources to assisting neighborhoods and to fully implement community policing and block watch programs.

Stonecipher, who is on her way to securing a fourth term, had said her understanding of municipal finances would be key to wrestling with the city’s ongoing budget challenges and ferreting out proposals to streamline city government.

Richerson, a political newcomer, runs a barbershop in downtown Everett and is a youth pastor at Faith Heritage Church. He said he wanted the city to pay more attention to the concerns of businesses and to address problems downtown such as aggressive panhandlers.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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