SNOHOMISH — In the battle to lead a divided city of Snohomish, voters unseated longtime conservative voices on the council and elected a more progressive mayor Tuesday, if an early vote tally holds.
Linda Redmon looked poised to defeat incumbent Mayor John Kartak.
Meanwhile, two of Kartak’s allies on the city council, Larry Countryman and Steve Dana, also were losing their re-election bids.
Redmon, the council president, garnered over 54% of the 1,850 votes cast compared to Kartak’s 45%.
“What I feel right now is really just gratitude,” Redmon said in a phone call minutes after the results rolled in. “I’m grateful for the support of the people… I’m really especially grateful for the army of volunteers that helped make this happen.”
Redmon led by a margin of 172 votes.
A Herald reporter tried to call Kartak, but his voicemail box was full.
It was a mayoral race embroiled in personal and political attacks.
Kartak’s campaign Facebook page was filled with posts calling out his opponent, rarely by name, for alleged divisive stances. In several posts he called Redmon a sympathizer with the “anti-Snohomish smear campaign,” a “Seattle-aligned” candidate and someone who insists “Snohomish has serious problems with racism.”
Redmon said those posts were mere attempts to make “people angry and scared, leaving a legacy of division. That’s between him and God now,” she wrote in a Facebook post Nov. 1.
A campaign mailer sent to Snohomish households after ballots went out stated: “Kartak is ripping our town apart / We need a mayor who will bring us together.”
One of the most glaring differences between the two candidates was their response to a controversial weekend in spring 2020 when armed individuals showed up downtown. Mayor Kartak told a conservative radio station that the crowds of people — some carrying guns, others wearing symbols harkening back to the confederacy, in response to an unconfirmed rumor that an anti-fascist group planned to loot businesses — had “a right to be there.”
Redmon empathized with people who were terrified by the appearance that weekend of what some considered vigilantes. She also pledged to continue work she started on the council — tackling the city’s housing problem in a way that preserves the city’s historic charm, pushing for better infrastructure and protecting the environment.
Kartak ran his campaign on preserving “small town values.” There was not much he would change if re-elected, he said. He said the city’s current 60% single family, 40% multifamily housing balance works for Snohomish, and he touted “tough on crime” policing.
Lea Anne Burke, a land use planner for the Tulalip Tribes, led incumbent Countryman by a comfortable margin.
Burke took nearly 60% of the vote, while Countryman got 40% in the Position 6 race.
Burke hopes to use her professional planning experience and background in ecology to help the city find environmentally sound solutions for growth. As a Native American woman, she said she’s capable of leading conversations about race and equity.
Countryman campaigned as more of a status quo candidate: preserving history while considering annexation and growth. He has lived in the city since the 1970s, served 12 years on the council and told The Daily Herald in October that his roots here give him “a little different perspective of most people.”
In a race between two former mayors for Position 7, incumbent Dana took just over 45%, trailing Karen Guzak, who garnered 54% in the first count.
Guzak chaired the Historic Design Review Board in the early 2000s. She went on to serve on the city’s Strategic Planning Committee, as well as the Snohomish City Council, the Snohomish County Board of Health and Snohomish County Tomorrow. Her main campaign pillars were creating more “green” initiatives, improving equity and increasing the affordable housing stock.
Dana, longtime operator of The Hub burger restaurant, has lived in the city since the 1960s. He said he has the necessary skills in land use planning to support the city as it moves to annex county parcels and add commercial and residential growth. Since his most recent term began in 2018, he said he has helped approve code amendments that protect the environment.
Incumbent Tom Merrill led retired firefighter Brian Mills by a comfortable margin in the contest for Position 4. Merrill earned 55% of the vote, compared to Mills’ nearly 45%.
Merrill, a former tech executive, campaigned on his experience and level-headed approach to city issues. If re-elected, he said he hoped to improve the city’s sustainability practices; re-evaluate the imbalanced multi-family vs. single-family housing split to expand access to “affordable” housing; and lead elected officials in listening to marginalized groups.
Mills campaigned on preserving “hometown values” in Snohomish. He’s a third-generation Snohomish resident who worked in construction prior to joining the Seattle Fire Department. He retired in 2006.
In Position 5, flooring contractor David Flynn led realtor Kari Zimmerman, 61.5% to 38%.
Flynn has lived in the Snohomish area for more than two decades and said his passion for the city motivated him to serve. He said he would strive to balance the community’s historic charm with inevitable growth. He said he believes better infrastructure is essential to support expansion.
Zimmerman ran on her leadership experience: She has managed homeowner associations and likened real estate to small business ownership. She said she understands the planning challenges of a city bound by two rivers and two highways, but was ready to make decisions with the future in mind.
Felix Neals, who currently holds a council seat by appointment, ran unopposed for Position 3. He received over 1,200 votes.
Neals, a licensed mental health counselor, has served on the Historic Downtown Snohomish Association and the Public Safety Commission.
Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; email@example.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.