EVERETT — The year-long battle to become Everett’s next mayor is one of the most expensive campaigns ever for the job.
Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy, the City Council members vying to succeed the retiring Mayor Ray Stephanson, had raised a combined $245,000 by the time ballots for the Nov. 7 election arrived this week.
Add in what Brian Sullivan and Shean Nasin collected in the primary and the investment of individuals and interest groups in selecting the city’s next leader is closing in on $400,000, which tops the total of any mayoral race in recent memory.
It doesn’t surprise Bill Quistorf and Laura Brent, who are among those who found themselves moved to give money to more than one candidate this year. In their case, they’ve each given money to Tuohy and Franklin.
“They’re both good candidates,” said Quistorf, a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy who lives in North Everett and is a past president of the Downtown Business Association.
He and his wife, Renee, each gave $100 to Tuohy on Oct. 3. That same day, his wife contributed $200 to Franklin’s campaign, according to reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission.
“When there are a few candidates that are good candidates, we may support more than one. Ultimately, you have to vote, you have to make a decision,” he said. He’s going with Franklin but didn’t reveal his wife’s decision.
Brent is an Everett business owner but cannot vote in the race as she is a resident of Mukilteo. She said she rooted for both women in the primary, giving $200 in Tuohy in March and $100 to Franklin in April. After they both advanced, she sent another $500 to her favorite, Tuohy.
“In the primary, I was hoping we would get the two best candidates and we did,” said Brent, who owns Brent Planning Solutions. “Everett will not be a loser in this race.”
The last time fundraising in a mayoral contest eclipsed $300,000 was 2003, when Stephanson and Frank Anderson dueled for the job. Mayor Ed Hanson had left office and they were seeking to complete the rest of the term. Stephanson won by 274 votes. The two combined to raise $303,860 with Stephanson hauling in $206,942 to Anderson’s $96,918.
Two years later, Stephanson ran for his first full term against Ron Gipson. The mayor brought in $220,602 to Gipson’s $62,521 and won the election by 3,800 votes.
In 2009, Stephanson collected 73.5 percent of the vote in beating James Johnson. On the money side, he hauled in nearly $170,000 while Johnson raised nothing. Four years ago, Stephanson ran unopposed though he did still raise roughly $80,000.
In this year’s election, there had been $383,649 received by all candidates as of Tuesday.
Sullivan led the way in the primary with $128,057 but finished third in balloting, which knocked him out of the race. Nasin, who finished fourth, took in $12,800. Tuohy’s tally had reached $129,136 and Franklin’s was at $116,196, as of Tuesday.
Tracing the source
Much of the financial support for Tuohy and Franklin is coming from those who live and work in Everett, or a neighboring community, according to a Herald analysis of campaign data reported to the Public Disclosure Commission.
For Tuohy, a native of Everett, it’s the lion’s share of her campaign funds.
Of the $129,136 she’s raised, $117,911 is cash. The remainder is in-kind donations and a transfer of unspent funds from her 2015 election for City Council. Nearly 81 percent of the cash, $95,111, came from those with Everett addresses.
She had 278 separate contributors to her campaign of which 217, or 78 percent, have ties to the city. The next largest number, 10, are from Seattle. Overall, individuals in 30 different communities have supported her, including one from Boston and another from Hermosa Beach, California.
Franklin, who was born in Idaho and settled in Everett four years ago, reported that of her $116,196 total, $113,610 is cash donations and the remainder from in-kind contributions. Of her total, 62 percent, or $70,885, came from those with an Everett link.
She had 248 different contributors of which 133, or 54 percent, are from Everett. Another 44 come from the neighboring cities of Snohomish (18), Marysville (13) and Mukilteo (13). Fifteen donors are in Seattle — where she lived before Everett — and she’s garnered support from folks in 35 communities including one from Eugene, Oregon, and one from Watsonville, California.
A review of public records shows a handful of individuals and groups have given money to multiple candidates through the course of the campaign.
Roughly a dozen contributed to Sullivan and Tuohy, another 12 to Sullivan and Franklin and at least 13 who have given to Tuohy and Franklin.
The Washington State Council of City and County Employees, the union for city workers, has actually given to all three. Sullivan received the group’s endorsement, and $1,000 in the primary. The union contributed the same sum to Tuohy and Franklin after the primary.
The Everett firefighters union, which gave Sullivan its backing and $1,000 in the primary, is now supporting Tuohy and provided her with $1,000 for the general election. While many of its members also wrote checks to Sullivan’s campaign, they have not done so with Tuohy. Instead, the union established an independent political committee that is sending out mailers supporting her election.
The Snohomish County-Camano Association of Realtors endorsed Sullivan in the primary and gave $1,000 to his campaign. It is now supporting Franklin and sent the same amount to her campaign.
“It’s tough when you have two city councilmembers,” said Ryan McIrvin, the association’s director of government and public affairs, and a member of the Renton City Council. “I think the city will be fine with either one of them as mayor.”
Scott North contributed to this report.