(L-R): Ethel McNeal, Tyler Rourke and Liz Vogeli.

(L-R): Ethel McNeal, Tyler Rourke and Liz Vogeli.

Everett must fight opioids, 3 City Council candidates agree

Engineer Tyler Rourke and organizer Liz Vogeli challenge appointed incumbent Ethel McNeal

EVERETT — A neighborhood organizer, an engineer and an appointed incumbent are on the primary ballot for City Council Position 4.

Ethel McNeal, 68, currently holds the seat. In January, she was appointed by the council to the position vacated when Cassie Franklin was elected mayor. McNeal worked at the Edmonds School District for 18 years and served as union president for office personnel. She also has been assistant chairwoman of the Everett Council of Neighborhoods and a member of the Envision Everett 2037 effort.

Tyler Rourke, 38, works in aerospace as a project engineer. Rourke was a finalist to fill Franklin’s position in January. He leads the city’s transportation advisory committee and is a board member of the Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop. Rourke also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County.

Liz Vogeli, 41, chairs the Westmont-Holly neighborhood association, which she and a neighbor revamped a year ago. She served as an ombudsman for the Coast Guard for a year. Vogeli is the secretary for the 38th Legislative District Democrats. She helped organize the March For Our Lives this spring at the county courthouse and the March in Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees in south Everett.

McNeal said she’s spent the past six months on the council observing and getting acclimated.

“I got my feet wet. Now it’s time to start swimming,” she said.

All three candidates said opioids are a major issue.

“People are sick of finding passed out needle-users in their lawns in the morning,” Vogeli said.

Rourke, who has lived in central Everett for about 12 years, said he and others are frustrated. When he takes his children to the park, he searches for needles before they play, he said. Additionally, his family’s car was stolen earlier this month.

“It’s time-consuming and extremely aggravating,” he said.

McNeal said the city must change the culture with compassion and accountability.

“If the homeless people saw we genuinely cared and we’re going to do something about it, they’d either work with us or get out of town,” she said.

Vogeli said the city must continue its lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. The suit alleges the company has some fault in the prevalence of opioid abuse. She said the case could bring funds for treatment services.

Solving these problems requires help from everyone, McNeal said.

Each candidate said as the city grows, affordable housing needs to become more accessible.

Vogeli said she doesn’t want to see rising property taxes run residents out of Everett.

“I think the large businesses and corporations can pay their fair share,” she said.

Rourke said a lot of people working in Everett don’t live in the city.

“We need to make Everett people’s first choice,” he said. “But people need to be able to afford to live here.”

All three candidates live south of 41st Street and say the representation from the southern portion of the city is important.

As of Thursday, Rourke is leading in fundraising with $13,512, according to public records. Vogeli trails with $4,507. McNeal said she will raise less than $5,000 and is not reporting her campaign finances.

A position on the City Council pays about $28,000 a year. Ballots are due Aug. 7.

Joseph Thompson: 425-339-3430; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @JoeyJThomp.

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