Republican joins a half-dozen Democrats in county race

Mukilteo Councilwoman Anna Rohrbough hopes to compete on heavily Democratic turf.

Anna Rohrbough

Anna Rohrbough

MUKILTEO — Mukilteo City Councilwoman Anna Rohrbough has joined the throng of candidates for Brian Sullivan’s soon-to-be-open seat on the Snohomish County Council.

Unlike the other half-dozen hopefuls, Rohrbough is running as a Republican. That’s bound to alter the playing field as she competes with the Democrats to squeeze through the top-two primary in August.

“What I’d like people to know is that I’m an open, collaborative person,” Rohrbough said. “I’m not a my-way-or-the-highway kind of person.”

District 2 represents Everett, Mukilteo and Tulalip. The area leans heavily Democratic. The official filing period isn’t until May, so more candidates could join the seven others. Past elections suggest long odds for a Republican winning the general election, but the R by Rohrbough’s name is likely to help her stand out in the primary.

Rohrbough, 46, is starting her second year on the City Council, where members are nonpartisan. She works as a certified leadership trainer and serves as a board member with the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.

Like her competitors, she wants to support public safety, address opioid abuse and curb the region’s transportation challenges. She also hopes to bridge gaps in the workforce through training and creating new jobs.

One of her competitors is Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson, a Democrat. Rohrbough has been part of a City Council bloc that has clashed with Gregerson over transparency issues — particularly, a quarter-million dollars in severance payments the mayor has authorized for a dozen former city employees over several years. Rohrbough sided with the council majority last year to deliver Gregerson a no-confidence vote and, more recently, authorized an outside investigation into whether the mayor overstepped her authority by signing contracts without council approval.

Top row, from left: Jennifer Gregerson, Tyler Verda and Sharita Burton. Bottom row, from left: Louis Harris, Megan Dunn, Cecilia Wilson and Alex Lark.

Top row, from left: Jennifer Gregerson, Tyler Verda and Sharita Burton. Bottom row, from left: Louis Harris, Megan Dunn, Cecilia Wilson and Alex Lark.

Gregerson, 40, has a master’s degree in urban planning. She highlights her accomplishments in office to support transit, education and affordable housing. In Mukilteo, the mayor has worked to expand waterfront access and to develop new bike lanes.

The other Democratic candidates for the county position have no elected experience, though many are deeply familiar with politics and government.

Cecilia Wilson, 54, manages constituent services for County Executive Dave Somers’ office. Wilson’s endorsement list includes Somers and Council Chairman Terry Ryan. Before joining the executive’s staff, she worked for 19 years as a legislative aide to different county council members.

Megan Dunn,, 43, was a leader in the effort to create district representation on the Everett City Council. She has a long history of environmental advocacy, including working to reduce pesticide use at Everett city parks. Everett Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher has supported Dunn’s candidacy.

Louis Harris has been involved in an array of community projects. The 31-year-old recently stepped down from leadership positions with the NAACP of Snohomish County and the Snohomish County Young Democrats to avoid potential conflicts of interest. He works at the state’s Department of Social and Health Services in financial services.

In a series in The Herald Business Journal about local emerging leaders, Harris talked about overcoming serious injuries in a car crash shortly after graduating from high school.

Alex Lark, also 31, combines a record of military service with progressive politics. He works at Housing Hope, an Everett-based nonprofit, and is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. Lark serves on Everett’s Planning Commission. In 2017, he lost a challenge to Everett City Council incumbent Jeff Moore.

Tyler Verda, 33, works on homeless housing and related issues for the county. He formerly served as a legislative aide to Hans Dunshee on the County Council and to state Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, who has endorsed Verda’s candidacy. In a campaign announcement, Verda highlighted growing up in a union household and his support for organized labor.

Sharita Burton, 53, sees the County Council job as a way to support businesses large and small.

Another goal for Burton is providing housing options for people of different age brackets and income levels. She lives in north Everett, runs a marketing consulting firm and has worked to revitalize Everett’s Broadway corridor. Burton said she plans to launch a campaign website soon.

District 2 is one of five County Council districts. Councilmembers earn a yearly salary of $123,484.

Sullivan, the incumbent, has been elected to three consecutive four-year terms. Term limits bar him from seeking re-election.

Sullivan is running for the nonpartisan county treasurer’s job, as is Marysville City Councilman Rob Toyer.

Also up for election this year is County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright, a Democrat who represents District 3.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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