EVERETT — A newly-appointed Snohomish County Council member faces three challengers in a bid to keep his seat.
Jared Mead, a state legislator who now represents the council’s 4th district, was chosen in April by the other council members to succeed Terry Ryan, who stepped down to become the county’s first director of aerospace economic development.
Now, Mead is running for the council seat in the Tuesday primary election, alongside Republican Brenda Carrington, Democrat Amber King and Independent Delia O’Malley.
The top two vote winners, regardless of party, will advance to the Nov. 3 general election. The ultimate victor will be a voice on the council for residents in Mill Creek, part of Bothell, Mountlake Terrace and unincorporated parts of the county.
During interviews with The Daily Herald, all four candidates stressed the importance of the county’s role in supporting businesses and residents as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to roil the public’s health. They offered varying opinions, though, on criminal justice reform and priorities for the fast-growing district.
Mead, a lifelong resident of the county, served on the Mill Creek City Council before defeating a Republican incumbent in the 2018 race to represent the state’s 44th legislative district in the state House of Representatives.
Southern Snohomish County’s rapid growth requires innovative solutions, said Mead, 29. While single-family homes have dominated the housing landscape in the county, he said more multi-family residences, such as town homes, will likely play a role in sustaining that growth. Transit, too, will be key.
“We’re going to need to get creative with things like transit, mass transit,” he said. “All of that mobility can’t come from just building lanes and hoping people can drive their individual cars.”
Mead supports criminal justice reforms, such as county Executive Dave Somers’ proposals for a community police oversight board and body cameras for law enforcement officers; however, Mead believes recent calls to reallocate exactly 50% of the Sheriff’s budget to housing and social programs are “arbitrary.”
“I’m someone that wants to take a surgical knife to a problem like this, where you really have to understand the budget and the implications of what you’re doing,” he said.
Carrington, 58, bills herself as a champion for the middle class who strives to ensure that communities will rebuild and succeed in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
“Everything about the middle class should thrive,” she said. “And I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and see what we can do in that arena.”
With experience working for Fortune 500 companies and running her own businesses in construction and interior design, Carrington said she knows how to get things done on a budget.
“I’m a strong, smart, fearless leader,” she said. “I’ve proven that.”
She has emphasized that, if elected, she’ll push for no new taxes without a vote of the public.
A strong supporter of law enforcement, she rejects calls to defund the police.
“I don’t believe (law enforcement) should be on the table for cutting,” she said. “I believe our residents deserve to live in safe communities.”
King, 42, said she would promote policies that support the working class and small businesses, instead of large corporations, as well as Snohomish County’s rural farmers.
“COVID has really taught us that we need to support the supply chain,” she said.
The Mountlake Terrace resident brings a wide array of professional experience, from being a commercial fisherman in Alaska to organizing legislative and nonprofit campaigns at the state, regional and national level.
If elected, King said she would work to make rent relief programs more accessible to county residents. She’d also like to see more affordable, multi-family housing projects in urban areas and transit projects that make communities walkable and bikeable.
She said she supports a “top-down” overhaul of the local criminal justice system, to include body cameras for law enforcement officers, more community oversight and cash bail reform.
“We should be looking at massive reforms at all levels of our justice system and public safety,” she said. “We have a lot of work we need to do to make people feel protected. When people have their basic needs met, a lot of crime and injustice stops.”
O’Malley, who lives south of Mill Creek, said she would be a voice for all residents in the district, regardless of their immigration status or incarceration history.
She’s spent 10 years advocating for children in foster care in the county court system. The 53-year-old is also a certified paralegal, she said.
“I think that sort of careful eye in understanding the broader impacts of legislation would benefit on the County Council at this time,” she said.
O’Malley said she would rally for more mass transit, fast-tracking of permitting for affordable housing projects and exploring rent control policies. She wants to ensure that the low-and middle-income service workers whom the county’s economy depends on are able to stay in their homes, even as rents and housing prices continue to rise.
She also supports the creation of a community oversight board to increase police accountability, as well as “mindfully” redistributing’s some of the sheriff’s budget to social and human services that promote community well-being.
“The situation right now is that law enforcement has become very partisan, and that is concerning to me,” O’Malley said.
What’s at stake?
A four-year term on the County Council representing District 4. The council’s 4th district represents residents in the cities of Mill Creek, Bothell and Mountlake Terrace and parts of unincorporated Snohomish County.
Experience: held high-level positions at Fortune 500 companies; owned and operated businesses in construction, landscaping and interior design
Residence: Mountlake Terrace
Experience: Secretary for the Washington State Progressive Caucus; previously elected as precinct committee officer in Shoreline; past board member for the 32nd Legislative District Democrats
Residence: Mill Creek area
Experience: currently represents Snohomish County Council’s 4th district and the state’s 44th legislative district; has served on the Mill Creek City Council and Mill Creek Planning Commission
Residence: Bothell area
Experience: served for a decade as a court-appointed special advocate for Snohomish County for children in the foster care system; volunteered for Girl Scouts, Mill Creek Food Bank, Progressive Animal Welfare Society and other organizations