Mayoral candidates Judy Tuohy (left) and Cassie Franklin (right). (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Everett mayor’s race may be won, or lost, in these precincts

EVERETT — A lot of voters in last month’s primary must now decide if they want Cassie Franklin or Judy Tuohy to be Everett’s next mayor.

Franklin and Tuohy finished 1-2 in the August primary that saw nearly 40 percent cast ballots for someone else.

Those voters, who backed Brian Sullivan or Shean Nasin, are now a critical electoral commodity pursued by the two candidates vying to become Everett’s first elected woman mayor.

Sullivan wound up with 29 percent and came within 63 votes of Tuohy. The Democratic County Councilman has since endorsed her for the general election. While Nasin didn’t win any precincts outright, he garnered nearly 10 percent. He has endorsed Franklin.

“Talking to the Sullivan voters is the low-hanging fruit,” said Christian Sinderman, a Seattle political consultant who managed outgoing Mayor Ray Stephanson’s campaigns and Sullivan’s 2015 re-election to the County Council. “They are most easily identified and they will turn out in the general election.”

While Franklin and Tuohy got the most votes, the precinct data underscore just how close Sullivan was in the third position. He finished first or second in 70 of the city’s 95 precincts, the analysis found.

Unfortunately for Sullivan, he received his strongest support in places where many voters opted out.

Of the 28 precincts where Sullivan emerged as the uncontested top vote-getter, only 20.5 percent of registered voters participated in the election. Compare that to 24.8 percent of voters showing up in the 40 precincts where Franklin finished first and 31.3 percent turnout in the 21 precincts where Tuohy was tops.

Sullivan finished first in four precincts north of 41st Street but generally did better in the city’s southern and western reaches. By contrast, Tuohy did best among voters living in northwest Everett and in the western hills, while Franklin claimed much of the rest of north Everett and parts of the south.

Here is how Everett mayoral candidates Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy divided precincts in the Aug.1 primary election. Brian Sullivan was a close third. Click the precincts for results.

Even as the two mayoral finalists ponder how to reach the potential cache of Sullivan voters, they cannot overlook precincts in which they did well in the primary because the number of people casting votes in those areas will climb this fall. It’s possible that twice as many voters may participate in November as did in August.

“It’s a new election for that group of people,” Franklin said. “They are not comparing us to Brian or Shean. Those are the people I want to reach out to.”

Doorbelling by data

Drive north on Colby Avenue and just past 10th Street you’ll begin traveling along the east flank of one of the most politically engaged neighborhoods in the city.

It’s Precinct 1. The precinct’s westernmost boundary is the shoreline but most of its voters live in the historic — and pricey — homes between Colby and Grand avenues, from Alverson Boulevard to 10th Street.

This is one of Everett’s oldest neighborhoods with residents who enjoy lengthy and strong ties to the city. There are no traffic lights nor large apartment complexes. The precinct’s retailers and industrial development are located down the hill in Bayside Marina and adjacent waterfront developments.

In the Aug. 1 primary, when 24.5 percent of the city’s voters participated, Precinct 1 recorded a 57.8 percent turnout. Of the 323 votes cast, Tuohy received 140, Franklin got 128, Sullivan had 42 and Nasin 13.

If history is any indication, turnout could reach 70 percent in November. Voters could wind up evenly split between the two candidates.

That’s how it played out in 2015 when both appeared on the November ballot, though in separate contests.

Tuohy, who had been on the council for a year, was seeking her first full term and had no challenger. She garnered 281 votes in Precinct 1, according to county election records. Franklin, in her first run for office, was taking on incumbent Ron Gipson and garnered 288 votes to his 65 in the precinct.

Now, head south by way of Rucker Avenue and Evergreen Way. As you cross 108th Street SW you enter Precinct 64 which encompasses a region in the southernmost tip of the city. It ends at Airport Road, which is also the city’s border and a direct route to the Boeing Co. plant.

This precinct contains a smorgasbord of life. There are wide streets and traffic lights, a collage of retailers and restaurateurs. Off the main drag one passes small homes squeezed among apartment complexes whose residents might not have been here in 2015 and might not stay long-term.

Historically its voters have not been deeply connected to the process of choosing who leads the city.

This precinct had 592 registered voters for the Aug. 1 primary but only 9.8 percent of them participated. Of the 53 ballots cast, Sullivan got 23 votes, Franklin 16, Tuohy 14 and Nasin 4.

In November 2015, a total of 81 ballots were cast in this precinct. Tuohy received 70, against no opponent, while Franklin beat Gipson 50-31.

Search for meaning

Both candidates are crunching data from the primary to prioritize precincts that will get their attention in the next two months.

“Southwest Everett could swing the election but connecting with voters is going to be hard,” Sullivan said in a recent interview. Several thousand union members live there, he said, but getting them motivated to vote is tough.

Franklin declined to reveal how the primary results affect what precincts she’ll be targeting.

“There’s a lot of good data from the primary and previous elections that are dictating our walk lists,” Franklin said.

When asked in what way, she politely replied, “I’m not sharing.”

Tuohy also avoided specifics on which areas of the city might hold the best potential for her.

Apartment complexes are tough to doorbell, she said, because access can be limited if there are gates, and tenants are not often home if you reach their door.

But those voters won’t be ignored, they’ll just require contact through another means such as digital ads and mailers, she said.

“I don’t have too much time to analyze it. We’re going to reach all the precincts,” she said. “We’re looking at the whole city. I don’t think it matters where I go, there are votes out there. I just need to get out there.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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