EVERETT — After 125 years, voters are about to change how members of the Everett City Council are elected.
Proposition 1, the districting measure, was passing comfortably with nearly 56 percent of the vote Tuesday night.
Rather than all seven council seats being elected citywide, the way it’s done today, the ballot initiative divides the city into districts. And voters in those areas would directly select some of the positions. Other seats would remain at-large.
This move would be a significant change to Everett’s electoral process. Also on Tuesday, Liz Vogeli was ahead of Tyler Rourke in their contest for a council seat.
Meanwhile, about 20 members and supporters of the group Everett Districts Now gathered Tuesday night at the White Buffalo Saloon on Evergreen Way to watch returns roll in. The group let out a cheer when the results were announced.
The vote returns are promising, said Megan Dunn, a leader of the group.
“We hope this brings a more receptive council because it was a battle to get it on the ballot,” she said.
The change will make running for City Council accessible for more people, said Louis Harris, vice president of the Snohomish County branch of the NAACP.
“I hope this becomes a catalyst for voter engagement,” Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher said Tuesday night.
With a concentration of city councilmembers living north of 41st Street, Everett Districts Now said the current system leaves many residents without a voice. The change will increase diversity among councilmembers and make it easier for neighbor leaders to run for a council seat, Dunn has said.
She said other cities that moved to district elections saw an increase in voter turnout.
Everett Districts Now has been pushing for this change for years. In June, the Everett City Council voted to put the districting measure on the ballot.
To pass, Proposition 1 needed 50 percent plus one vote.
The opposition group No Everett Districts argued the current system forces councilmembers to pay attention to voters throughout the city and that districting would narrow their focus.
Voters also had a say in how many seats would remain at-large positions. Proposition 2 gave the choice; either divide the city into five districts, leaving two seats at large, or draw four districts and retain three city-wide positions.
On Tuesday night, the 5-2 breakdown was ahead, capturing roughly 54 percent of the vote.
Everett Districts Now supported the 5-2 model, because even with four districts there still could be a concentration of councilmembers in one part of the city.
If the districting measure is approved, the first district election would occur in 2021. To run in a district, candidates would need to have lived in that area at least six months before the primary election date and must have resided in Everett for at least a year, according to city documents. Councilmembers have to remain living in that district while in office.
In the race for City Council Position 4, Vogeli led the race with over 51 percent of the vote to Rourke’s 48.5 percent.
Vogeli chairs the Westmont-Holly Neighborhood Association. Rourke, a project engineer for an aerospace company, lives in the Glacier View neighborhood.
Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; email@example.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.
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