Everett council to resume discussion of election districts

Council President Paul Roberts’ draft resolution is to be considered at a Wednesday meeting.

EVERETT — The Everett City Council is scheduled to again consider the creation of council districts Wednesday night.

Council President Paul Roberts has created a draft resolution for what that conversation might look like.

“It’s a pretty bare-bones draft,” he said.

The council has seven seats. Currently, all of them are drawn from at-large elections. The council is expected to come up with a ballot measure, asking voters to change that. Such a measure would seek to have some of the seats elected directly from geographic districts.

A local group called Everett Districts Now has been pushing a districting plan for months. Its plan would have five districts and two at-large seats. A petition to that effect failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the 2017 ballot, and the group is expected to try again this year.

That effort is separate from the council’s, and there has been some tension over the possibility of dueling ballot measures. The number of districts, and the shape they take, has been a big piece of that.

Roberts’ proposal suggests there could be five districts, or four. He also says Everett could use districts for primary elections but then take the vote city-wide for the candidates who advance to the general election.

At-large elections have been in place here for half a century, he said in the draft.

“How City Council members are elected is a fundamental question of city governance and will have far-reaching effects,” he said.

The League of Women Voters has been strongly supportive of the Everett Districts Now plan. The league’s Brenda Bolanos-Ivory reiterated that view to the council at last week’s meeting.

“What we want to see is a districting plan be implemented in Everett that is five districts and two at-large council members, or more,” she said. “Any less than that, the league has taken a stand that we don’t believe it will increase representativeness.”

The City Council would have to submit a districting plan this summer to make the next general election, in November. Roberts’ plan calls for workshops and public hearings into May, with another series of council meetings in July.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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