EVERETT — Charles Mister Jr. isn’t the man he wants voters to think he is.
Mister, who is running for a seat on the Board of Directors of the Everett School District, claims to be a former cop and city councilman, a foster parent to more than 60 children, and a holder of two master’s degrees.
And he asserts to have been a precinct committee officer in Everett, an executive of the 38th Legislative District Democrats, a board member of the “Community Health Center” and the “new owner of the 38th district People’s of Color.”
Yet much of that biography, penned in his candidate statement in the local voters’ pamphlet, is either false or wildly overstated.
In the meantime, he doesn’t reveal that in Snohomish County he’s been arrested, he’s been evicted and he’s battled many of his Everett neighbors — on the streets and in the courts.
Mister has refused to answer questions about his resume or respond to inquires about his interactions with the law. Since finishing a distant second in the August primary, he’s answered only one phone call from The Herald.
In it he expressed surprise, almost shock, at learning he is facing incumbent school board director Traci Mitchell in next month’s general election. Mitchell won the primary with 58.4% followed by Mister with 22.6% and Janelle Burke with 18.2%.
“I am on the ballot in November? Wow. I didn’t know,” he said in the conversation that lasted less than a minute. “Thank you for calling. Listen, can I call you back? In an hour. Wow.”
Mister did not call back, and has not responded to multiple phone call and email requests, leaving many unanswered questions about the 67-year-old’s life.
Those seeking elected office can say pretty much whatever they want in the statements they submit for voter pamphlets. There is a limit on length, a ban on profanity and a prohibition on directly attacking an opponent. Otherwise candidate statements are run as they arrive, including misspellings, bad grammar and falsehoods.
“It is an opportunity for the candidates, in their own words, to talk about why they are running for office. We don’t check those statements for accuracy,” Snohomish County Auditor Garth Fell said.
The Herald did check and could confirm only a scintilla of truth in the biographical information in the statement used in the primary.
Mister registered to vote in Snohomish County in September 2004 at the age of 50. He did serve as a precinct officer and, very briefly, as a vice chair of the local Democrat group, according to Democrat activists in the county. No one is sure what he was referring to when he talked of the Community Health Center and the 38th District People’s of Color.
But it is his earlier life where gaps in accuracy appear greater.
He claims to have earned master’s degrees in criminology and social child behavior from Saint Louis University. An official in the university registrar’s office said they had no record of a Charles Mister Jr. earning such degrees. Moreover, in a 2017 court case, Mister himself reported his formal education ended after 12th grade.
He also claimed to have been a “poloice captain for 32 years” but doesn’t say where. And he claims to have fostered more than 60 children, again not saying where or when, making it hard to prove or disprove.
And he wrote that he “served as a councilmen in St. Louis, MI.” Officials in that Michigan town had no records of him. However, a Charles Mister Jr. did file to run for a seat on the East St. Louis Aldermanic Council in Illinois in December 1992, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That Mister did not win the election in the following year, according to other newspaper clippings.
In the meantime, as an Everett resident, Mister has battled with landlords and neighbors pretty much wherever he’s lived.
In September 2010, he was arrested for harassment after he allegedly threatened to shoot other tenants of the apartment complex where he lived. The next day he got an eviction notice. And months later he pleaded guilty to one count of harassment with a judge dismissing a second charge. He received a one-year jail sentence, with all of that time suspended.
In the past decade, no one has had more run-ins with Mister than Rod Shafer, 61. Troubles between the Rockefeller Avenue neighbors began around 2013. There have been arguments and threats and a few swings taken, according to court records. Both men have obtained anti-harassment orders against the other.
In 2017, Mister spent five days in jail and paid a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to phoning Shafer in violation of an existing anti-harassment order barring such contact.
In a pair of incidents in 2020, Mister accused Shafer of hitting him with a fence board and Shafer accused Mister of pointing a gun at him and threatening to shoot him. Court records collected on behalf of Shafer’s restraining order request contain statements from other neighbors expressing their fear of Mister.
“He is a bully. He bullies everybody. But I would not let him bully me,” Shafer told the Herald. “He’s had 27 restraining orders against us. We’ve had five restraining orders against him.”
Mister moved out of the neighborhood last year after he got evicted from the house he rented.
“We can all come out of our houses again,” Shafer said.
Mister’s run-ins with the law include an arrest in January 2019 after he drove into a parked car and left the scene, outside a Goodwill store on West Casino Road. Mister was attempting to park his gold Cadillac DeVille when he struck another car and drove off. With witnesses who recognized him and his car, and video, police arrested him the next day. That charge was dismissed after he paid restitution.
Meanwhile, Mister is also in trouble with the Public Disclosure Commission for not filing two documents all candidates must submit. One is for the creation of a political committee, regardless of whether a candidate plans to raise money or not. The other is a financial disclosure form identifying his income and other assets.
Commission staff sent him a letter July 14 with the option to turn in the paperwork and pay $200 to resolve the matter ahead of a scheduled enforcement hearing.
Mister replied with an apology. On Aug. 5, he submitted a signed Statement of Understanding, admitting wrongdoing and paying the prescribed sum. But he did not file the required reports and the commission conducted the enforcement hearing Aug. 12. It imposed a $400 fine, suspended $150 of the penalty and credited his $200, leaving him with $50 left to pay.
Jerry Cornfield: firstname.lastname@example.org; 360-352-8623