Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin delivers the annual state-of-the-city address Thursday morning in the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin delivers the annual state-of-the-city address Thursday morning in the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett mayor’s annual speech focuses on gun violence, homelessness

Cassie Franklin pleaded with lawmakers to seek solutions. “We cannot block housing projects,” she said.

EVERETT — In her annual state-of-the-city speech Thursday, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin called on state and federal lawmakers to fix a “broken system” that let a felon allegedly have a firearm and kill an Everett police officer last week.

Public safety was a major part of the address that had to be rewritten after the fatal shooting of officer Dan Rocha.

She also called on additional investments from the state for behavioral and mental health, as well as local and regional support for housing density and construction to help solve housing affordability and homelessness.

“I’m in a place of sorrow today,” Franklin said Thursday to a crowded Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, where Rocha’s memorial is to be held Monday.

Congressional, judicial and legislative chambers must address an increase in violent crime in recent years, she said.

Franklin, now in her second term, first took office in 2018.

In an interview with The Daily Herald before the speech, Franklin said her first term was marked by a decrease in violent crime, after prior years saw an uptick in gang activity and firearms-related crimes. She credited that decline on the city’s policing efforts — giving away gun locks — and a law passed in 2018 that requires gun owners to notify police within 24 hours if their firearm is lost or stolen.

But it hasn’t been enough, she said.

“We need to care about gun violence as much as we care about trash, graffiti or tents on our sidewalks,” Franklin said Thursday.

Franklin said she plans to create a police and employee wellness unit “to take care of those who take care of us.” The specifics of that unit were not yet clear but likely would become so after the memorial, she said.

Over the past two years, people have struggled with the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many losing jobs and housing. There aren’t enough treatment options, particularly for acute behavioral and mental health needs, Franklin said.

Even as Compass Health expands and modernizes its footprint in Everett and the city adds Pallet shelter units for temporary housing, the need exceeds existing capacity, she said.

That leads to more people living on the streets and in encampments, which Franklin called “not safe, sanitary or humane.”

The availability of housing is tied into that, as well, but one solution, she said, is to build, build, build. Housing across price points should be built throughout the city and county, Franklin said.

That could mean an education campaign about the need for growth in Everett and why infill is one option forward, she said.

“We can solve this,” she said, calling on people to be “fiercely pro-housing,” to applause from the crowd. “We cannot block housing projects.”

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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