Top (L-R): Linda Redmon, Tom Merrill, David Flynn. Center (L-R): Lea Anne Burke, Felix Neals, Karen Guzak. Bottom (L-R): Larry Countryman, Steve Dana, John Kartak, Brian Mills, Kari Zimmerman.

Top (L-R): Linda Redmon, Tom Merrill, David Flynn. Center (L-R): Lea Anne Burke, Felix Neals, Karen Guzak. Bottom (L-R): Larry Countryman, Steve Dana, John Kartak, Brian Mills, Kari Zimmerman.

New Snohomish mayor, council aim to bring city ‘together again’

Conservative Mayor John Kartak has conceded. Two like-minded council members are losing to challengers.

SNOHOMISH — As it became more apparent he would lose last Tuesday’s election, outgoing Mayor John Kartak wrote a Facebook post.

“Snohomish is, always has been, and always will be WONDERFUL,” he wrote Wednesday. “This is because of who the COMMUNITY is, not because of who’s in office (whether that is me or anybody else).”

The post included a video of him walking into Piccadilly Circus, a bar on First Street, explaining that though he was behind challenger and current City Council President Linda Redmon, things could turn around.

On Friday evening, he called Redmon to concede.

“He spoke of God’s will, congratulated me on becoming mayor-elect, and talked of his plans for the transition,” Redmon wrote in a Facebook post Friday. “His thoughts were to make the transition as smooth as possible for our staff, and he offered to do what he could to make me comfortable in beginning the work. I very much appreciated the care and thought he had put into how to pass the baton. Thank you, John.”

Some of those who voted for Kartak say Redmon will serve the city well.

“I don’t know her heart, her attitude as much, but just from the things she’s said, I think they’re good, too,” said Ken Sparre, a decade-long Snohomish resident. “I think she’s honest and I think she has a valid viewpoint.”

Similarly, Gloryanne Carswell, manager of the Rosella Gallery in downtown Snohomish, said she voted for Kartak but saw “positives from both candidates.”

“I’m a firm believer that what’s supposed to happen will happen and that votes have been cast, voices have been heard,” she said.

It appears to be the end of an era in Snohomish. As of Friday, Kartak and his fellow conservative-leaning council members, Larry Countryman and Steve Dana, were losing their races to more progressive candidates: Tulalip Tribes land use planner Lea Anne Burke and former Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak.

The newly elected council includes more women and progressive attitudes. But that doesn’t mean the electorate leans more progressive than it did four years ago.

All of the races in Snohomish were close, and less than half of those eligible in the city actually voted.

Some Snohomish small business owners declined to comment on the election results, fearing they would lose customers because politics are “so divisive” in the town.

“When you look at the election results and realize that for most of the races there’s kind of a clear (partisan) lean for each of the candidates — but the city isn’t 75% one way, 25% another,” Redmon said. “It’s almost 50/50, so we have to make sure that we include all viewpoints to best represent the city.”

Progressive-leaning incumbent Tom Merrill, who fended off challenger Brian Mills, said there is really only one big difference between the current and incoming council.

“I think it will be one that’s a little calmer,” he said. “There’s a possibility of bringing the city together again.”

The newly elected council members share concern for the environment, lowering barriers to housing, listening to their constituents’ concerns, fixing aging infrastructure and preserving the town’s historic charm. Merrill, Burke, Guzak, David Flynn, who defeated Kari Zimmerman, and Felix Neals, who holds a council seat by appointment and ran unopposed, have similar visions for the city.

They each bring their own ideas and priorities and aren’t “a voting bloc,” Guzak said. “But I think that there will be much more compassion for each other’s point of view.”

Guzak added that she’s hoping for a better working relationship with the new mayor.

Kartak’s tenure as mayor has been polarizing.

After crowds of armed people descended on the town of 10,000 in response to an unconfirmed Antifa threat in spring 2020, Kartak’s name made international headlines. He faced questions from local news outlets, and some locals called for his resignation.

Some stood by his side through it all.

“John Kartak has done a good job for running the city for the four years that he’s done it,” Countryman said in a post-election interview. “He basically kept this promise. And I have no real regrets.”

Countryman added that he hopes in the future the city can “get rid of all the progressives that are presently on council.”

Dana said that regardless of who’s in office, they simply “need to be accountable to the voters.”

“We’re all committed to doing our jobs — focusing on what our responsibilities are as a council and having a lot of good dialogue,” Burke said. “I’m really excited.”

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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