Political newcomer challenges Ron Gipson for Everett council seat

EVERETT — Incumbent Ron Gipson said he brings a working-class voice to the City Council.

Political newcomer June Robinson said she has a good handle on the social and economic needs of the community and could bring her professional skill set to the council.

Both are vying for Everett

City Council position No. 4.

Robinson’s day job is executive director of Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County, which advocates for affordable housing.

This is her first time running for public office. She’s spent her career focused on human services.

Robinson and her family moved to Everett 14 years ago. She and her husband have raised two children here and she’s grown to love the community.

“I care a lot about the future of the city,” she said. “Everett is poised to really go in a positive direction.”

Creating a vibrant downtown is key, she said, to attracting new businesses and growing the local economy. She supports the steps the city has already made in that direction and would like to see the city do a better job of spotlighting what she called its treasures. Good transit and housing are also on her radar.

She also pledges to be a better communicator from the dais.

“I very rarely hear council members speaking about why they are voting,” she said. “You owe that to the citizens so they can understand what your views are.”

Robinson does have one lead-footed skeleton in her closet. Since 2008, court records show she has piled up five speeding tickets.

“I’m a magnet for speeding tickets,” she said.

Gipson, a corrections officer at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center, is about to wrap up his fourth term on the council; he’s served the longest of any of those on the council now.

During that time, he’s earned a reputation for speaking up when he doesn’t agree.

He’s also a frequent question-asker from the dais. Often those questions are framed in just the unvarnished way a regular person — rather than a politician — might ask them. Last March, for instance, he asked the city administration to find out why Snohomish County Sheriff deputies were handing out speeding tickets along Evergreen Way.

When people approach him with their problems, he’ll often repeat those issues on the dais during council meetings; that public airing keeps issues from being ignored, he said.

“I work for the people, not the other council members or the department heads,” Gipson said. “I don’t work for them, and I don’t try to please them.”

He’s pushed for some headline-making ideas that haven’t gained traction, including a crusade to use the city cable channel to televise the mug shots and names of men convicted of soliciting prostitutes.

Gipson also supports economic growth but he disagrees with his opponent about how to get there. Streetscape projects and the like aren’t needed to get new companies here, he said.

“We just need to promote our city,” he said.

He pointed to the Tulalips and the new businesses such as Cabela’s they’ve secured. He thinks Everett ought to have a similar focus. He also thinks the city should push for more fairs and festivals, such as the motorcycle show he championed in 2010 that brought thousands downtown on a Sunday.

So far, Gipson has raised $9,000 for his campaign. No details about who contributed that money are filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission because he said he mailed in his forms. He declined to name his largest contributor. Instead, he said it’s not the amount of money somebody gives him that matters. As an example, he said an 80-year-old woman from his church gave $25.

Contributors have given Robinson $12,907. Her biggest contribution at $800 is from Bud Alkire, executive director of the Everett Housing Authority. She’s also received money from the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington and two City Council members also running for office, Drew Nielsen and Brenda Stonecipher

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

Everett City Council, Position 4

Ron Gipson

Age: 53

Occupation: Juvenile corrections officer

Website: www.rongipson4citycouncil.org

Priorities: Prudent fiscal management while maintaining city services; every neighborhood deserves equal treatment when it comes to public safety, parks, transportation, street improvements and spending priorities; economic development focused on recruiting new companies.

June Robinson

Age: 52

Occupation: Executive director, Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County

Website: http://junerobinson.org

Priorities: Bring more diverse businesses to Everett; create partnerships that provide a broader range of services without raising taxes; balance growth with maintaining open space and parks.

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