Opening on Snohomish County Council draws a half-dozen contenders

Six people, including three now serving in elected office, seek to fill a vacancy created by Stephanie Wright’s sudden departure.

Stephanie Wright

Stephanie Wright

EVERETT — Six Democrats with substantive civic resumes are vying to fill a vacancy on the Snohomish County Council seat created by Stephanie Wright’s surprise departure this week.

State Rep. Strom Peterson, Edmonds School District director Carin Chase, Lynnwood City Councilmember Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, former Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, nonprofit executive Chris Eck, and public defender Colin McMahon all announced their interest within hours of Wright’s resignation Monday.

Wright, who was in her third and final term, began work Tuesday as executive policy officer for Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers.

Her replacement will be chosen in a two-step process.

First, Democratic Party precinct officers in District 3 will provide the County Council with three nominees to fill the seat. That could happen by Sept. 15.

Then, the council members — Democrats Megan Dunn and Jared Mead and Republicans Nate Nehring and Sam Low — will appoint one of the three nominees. Dunn, the chair, has said she’d like to see the new member seated by early October when the council begins hashing out proposals for next year’s budget.

Whoever is appointed will represent District 3, which encompasses Lynnwood, Edmonds, Woodway and a swath of unincorporated Snohomish County. They will serve in the $126,571-a-year job through the November 2023 election. They will need to run and win in that election to secure a full four-year term.

Strom Peterson

Strom Peterson

Peterson, 54, served six years on the Edmonds City Council member and owned the Cheesemonger’s Table cafe for two decades, until selling it last year.

He was elected to the state House in 2014 and is currently running for re-election. He is chair of the Housing, Human Services and Veterans Committee and serves on the Capital Budget, and the Civil Rights and Judiciary committees. He also is a party precinct officer.

If appointed to the County Council, and re-elected to the state House, he intends to do both jobs. He said he will look to build greater connectivity between state and county governments in areas of affordable housing, public safety, economic development and environmental protection.

“I think there is a lot of synergy between the two positions,” he said. “I see the opportunity to be part of a governing body that does a lot of implementation of what we do in Olympia.

“I am not driven by power and ego. I believe I can do both jobs well,” he said. But, he said, if it becomes too much, he will “make changes.”

Carin Chase

Carin Chase

Chase, 58, won a seat on the Edmonds School Board in 2015. She was re-elected in 2019. She also serves on the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission.

She’s a party precinct officer and serves on the statewide committee for the Washington State Democratic Party. In 2019, she served as the state director for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

“Precinct Committee Officers across the county and women, in particular, have urged me to run for this office. Our loss of reproductive, civil and human rights, and public safety has been especially impactful on people’s lives. They all want strong representation and have come to expect it from me,” she said in a statement.

Since 2006, she has operated Innovation Services LLC, which, according to her resume, is a “small entrepreneurial consulting, management, and construction enterprise business.”

Chase said she would step down as a school board member if appointed.

“It may be legal, but is it ethical?” she said, referring to holding both jobs. “I would immediately resign from the school board and devote my full-time efforts to the business of the Snohomish County Council and the people I represent.”

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby

Altamirano-Crosby, 51, won a seat on the Lynnwood City Council in 2019. The native of Mexico said “it is time we have a qualified woman of color on the County Council.”

“Snohomish County deserves a council, representative of its diverse make up,” she said in a press release. She cited 2020 U.S. Census figures showing 36% of the district are people of color and 21.5% of its residents are foreign-born. “The strength of our district resides in its people, its businesses, and its centers of learning.”

She did not say if she would resign from the City Council if appointed.

A researcher with a PhD in social communication, she serves on the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs. She is also the cofounder of the WAGRO Foundation, a nonprofit whose primary focus “is to provide resources to people or groups who belong to marginalized and underserved communities,” according to the release.

Adrienne-Fraley-Monillas

Adrienne-Fraley-Monillas

Fraley-Monillas, 63, served 12 years on the Edmonds City Council before losing her re-election bid last fall. She said she intended to run for the seat once Wright completed her tenure.

“I’ve got a big heart for the county,” she said. “I want to be able to be part of effecting changes for the 900,000 people living in the county.”

Fraley-Monillas was a 33-year employee of the state Department of Social and Health Services, including a stint as an administrator at Western State Hospital. She’s a former union leader. She served on the Board of Health for the Snohomish Health District.

A party precinct officer for 16 years, Fraley-Monillas said she doesn’t always toe the party line and “certainly know how to work with people on both sides of an issue and come to some kind of consensus.”

While Peterson may hope to hold both state and county jobs, she wouldn’t.

“I will give 100 percent of my time and attention to the county. Our county deserves it,” Fraley-Monillas said. “I am not sure people holding two jobs can make that statement.”

Christine Eck

Christine Eck

Eck, 55, of Edmonds, is deputy chief operating officer for Volunteers of America Western Washington. She formerly worked for Cocoon House and Premera Blue Cross.

Last year, Eck ran unsuccessfully for Lynnwood City Council. At the time time, she served on the city’s planning commission. Now, she represents District 3 on the Snohomish County Planning Commission.

She touted the value of her experience in the private sector, as a nonprofit executive and on the planning commissions, and said she will bring a “fresh voice” to solving problems facing the county.

“I have the proven ability to … build coalitions” to tackle challenges, she said.

“Lynnwood and Edmonds are two places I call home,” she said. “To be able to represent my community would be an honor.”

Colin McMahon

Colin McMahon

McMahon, 36, of Lynnwood, spent the past seven years working as a public defender in the county. He’s also a vice chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Central Committee

In 2020, McMahon landed in the spotlight as he and three other local attorneys launched a recall against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney. The effort, which overcame a challenge in the state Supreme Court, didn’t get on the ballot because organizers failed to collect enough signatures .

This isn’t McMahon’s first attempt to get on the council. Also in 2020, while living in unincorporated area near Lynnwood, he sought appointment to the District 4 seat after Terry Ryan resigned. The council chose Mead. McMahon moved into the city last year.

“Bringing accountability and responsible governance to Snohomish County is one of my most major concerns,” McMahon said in an email. “When I was seeking the appointment in 2020, my focus was related to mental health, behavioral health, and criminal justice issues. As we’ve seen in the 2.5 years since, those issues, and public health generally of course, have dominated the news and the agendas of the County Council. I feel that my education and experience are perfectly suited to address those concerns through the Council.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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