The two City Council members are seeking to become Everett’s next mayor and the first woman elected to the position in the city’s 124-year history.
Voters on Tuesday will decide which of them will take the reins of leadership in Snohomish County’s most populous city from Mayor Ray Stephanson, who has held them since 2003. That assumes there won’t be an upset victory for a write-in campaign launched by a businessman best known for calling Everett “Tweakerville.”
The Everett mayor’s race isn’t the only intriguing contest in Tuesday’s general election.
A controversial aerospace executive is trying to unseat an incumbent councilman in Mukilteo while voters in Snohomish are directly electing a mayor and debating the merits of allowing marijuana stores in town. A majority of Snohomish County Council seats are on the ballot, a fire commissioner is fighting for his job and one Mountlake Terrace City Council member is trying to oust another.
Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel is predicting 34 percent of the county’s registered voters will cast ballots.
Participation could climb several percentage points higher in communities with spirited contests, she said.
Everett is one of them. The next mayor will assume leadership of a city where chronic issues related to the homeless, mentally ill and drug-addicted on the streets are stoking concerns about public safety. In the meantime, more people are moving into the city and this growing population is searching for housing and demanding services.
Although it is a nonpartisan job, it’s no secret Franklin and Tuohy are both Democrats. On the council they hold similar views on many issues. Their differences are in style and biography more than substance.
Franklin, 46, was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, raised in Eugene, Oregon, and moved to Everett four years ago with her husband, David, a computer engineer, and their daughter. They live in the Port Gardner neighborhood.
She worked as deputy director of Cocoon House from 2005-09 and left to consult for social service providers. She returned in 2011 when she was hired as chief executive officer of the nonprofit, which provides shelter and services for homeless youth and their families. She stepped back from that role earlier this year to focus on the campaign.
Franklin won a seat on the City Council in 2015 when she beat longtime incumbent Ron Gipson. She’s been endorsed in this race by Stephanson.
On the campaign trail, her message is simple: Opioid addiction and homelessness are the most significant issues facing the city and ones she dealt with daily at Cocoon House.
“It is a crisis in our community,” she said. “I have the street-level experience in developing proven solutions to that issue.”
Tuohy, 63, was born and raised in Everett. She and her husband, attorney Tom Tuohy, raised two children while living in Snohomish. She moved back to Everett after he died in 2007.
Since 1995, Tuohy has served as executive director of Schack Art Center, formerly known as the Arts Council of Snohomish County.
She beat Rich Anderson in 2014 to win a short-term council seat. The next year she beat him again to capture a full four-year term in 2015.
In the campaign she stresses her hometown roots.
“A lifelong connection is very important, especially when I talk to citizens,” she said. “Understanding how the city has evolved and changed over time to where we are today and where we hopefully will get to in the future.”
Their polite campaign got testy in the past week.
Tuohy sent out a mailer calling the Safe Streets Initiative — Stephanson’s signature undertaking in his final term — a failure. But in an interview she said she would continue it, without changes, while pursuing additional steps to reduce the visible presence of the homeless on city streets.
In a subsequent letter to The Herald, Tuohy said her concerns about the program were prompted in part by recent word that some Everett businesses considered relocating or changing their hours because the streets do not seem safe — and by the Salvation Army’s decision to stop its feeding program “because it became too dangerous for their volunteers and the homeless population they were trying to serve.”
Franklin said the Safe Streets Initiative has worked and vowed to stay the course. She said the problems “would be tenfold where it is now if we hadn’t been doing it.”
Meanwhile, Tuohy supporters convinced a Seattle-based alliance of progressive groups to switch its backing from Franklin to Tuohy. It wasn’t because of her views. Rather Tuohy supporters zeroed in on Franklin’s campaign manager for having once worked for a conservative Republican state senator, an act determined to be a “red flag,” according to a spokesman for the alliance.
Two Franklin supporters — Greg Tisdel and his father, Don, — launched the website judydoesntknow.com targeting Tuohy’s knowledge of issues facing the city. The site selectively highlights Tuohy responses to questions in a Herald interview.
Tuesday’s election is expected to be close contest. There is a write-in candidate, Gary Watts, who has made some electoral noise by making public safety a focus of the campaign. While he admitted last week a victory is unlikely, he knows he could influence the outcome if he siphons more votes from one candidate than the other.
The decisive voters are likely to live in precincts in south Everett, where the best performer in the primary was Brian Sullivan.
Franklin won the August election, finishing 288 votes ahead of Tuohy with Sullivan another 63 votes back in third. Shean Nasin finished fourth. Sullivan has since endorsed Tuohy while Nasin is backing Franklin.
A Herald analysis found Sullivan finished first or second in 70 of the city’s 95 precincts and was the uncontested top vote-getter in 28 precincts. He received his strongest support in precincts where not many voters turned out — south and southwest Everett.
While Franklin and Tuohy are each hoping to make gains in those areas, they also looking to shore up support in North Everett neighborhoods, where turnout reached 57 percent in one precinct during the primary.
Tuohy has out-raised Franklin to this point in the campaign. Tuohy had reported $148,552 in contributions to Franklin’s $128,011 as of Friday morning, according to online records of the state Public Disclosure Commission. Franklin had reported $111,547 in spending, compared to Tuohy’s $82,801, records show.
Three of the five Snohomish County Council members are looking to keep their jobs, and if they don’t, it would really shake up county government.
Democrat Councilman Terry Ryan faces Republican Marcus Barton in District 4; Republican Councilman Sam Low is up against Democrat Kristin Kelly in District 5; and Republican Councilman Nate Nehring is dueling Democrat Ray Miller in District 1.
Ryan, a former Mill Creek City Councilman, is seeking a second four-year term against Barton, a U.S. Army veteran, who is making his first run for political office.
Low, a onetime Lake Stevens City councilman, made his mark in 2016 when he won a short term by unseating Democrat Councilman Hans Dunshee. Now Low is seeking a full four-year term against Kelly, the executive director of the Pilchuck Audubon Society.
Nehring, the newest council member, was appointed in January to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ken Klein. The former teacher is facing Miller, a party activist who retired after a career in social services helping military veterans.
Aerospace executive Peter Zieve’s bid to unseat City Council President Bob Champion is igniting plenty of political fireworks in this city’s elections and overshadowing contests for two other council seats, the mayor’s race and a proposed sales tax hike for road projects.
This is the first campaign for Zieve, who burst on the political scene when he led efforts to prevent a mosque from being built in the city. This year he earned attention when he settled with the state after the Attorney General’s Office accused him of discriminating against employees of his Mukilteo company, Electroimpact Inc.
In this campaign, he’s gone on the offensive. He’s taken shots at Champion for being unmarried or having no children. Zieve is in his third marriage and a father of six kids. And he’s alleged Champion and Mayor Jennifer Gregerson are romantically involved, a connection both have denied.
Meanwhile, residents opposing Zieve formed Mukilteo for All to campaign against him. They had spent nearly $12,000 entering the weekend, while Zieve had spent nearly twice that much for his campaign, according to the Public Disclosure Commission website.
Meanwhile, Gregerson is wrangling for a second term against Dan Matthews, a technical consultant for Boeing. The romance allegation is one she’s sought to smack down a few times.
Voters also will decide if they want to increase the retail sales tax by one-tenth of 1 percent to pay for road, sidewalk, trail and bike-way improvements. It would expire after 10 years.
Back to the future
Residents in the city of Snohomish will be directly electing a mayor for the first time in nearly half a century. Voters last fall narrowly passed a measure to return to what is known as a strong-mayor form of government.
Karen Guzak, a City Councilwoman who opposed the measure, is up against John Kartak, who supported it. He won the primary and they’ve had a rancorous battle, dividing the community and leading to the destruction of many campaign signs of both candidates.
In the meantime, the City Council is due for a makeover with five of the seven seats contested. Among the candidates are three former council members who are some of the city’s best-known elders — Larry Countryman, 77, Steve Dana, 67, and R.C. “Swede” Johnson, 74.
And there’s a marijuana matter sparking debate. It is a nonbinding advisory measure to see whether residents want to lift ban on marijuana retailers within city limits.
Local firefighters are doing all they can to prevent David Chan from getting re-elected to a third term as a commissioner for Snohomish County Fire District 1.
They endorsed his opponent, Mountlake Terrace Police officer Michael Ellis, then on their own designed and sent a mailer to voters urging them to not vote for the incumbent.
The mailer gets your attention. There’s a picture of President Donald Trump on one side and unflattering photo of Chan on the other. It urges voters to oppose Chan for using “racist and demeaning language” at a public meeting. It refers to what happened in March when a hot mic caught Chan joking with another commissioner about whether they could hire Mexicans as paramedics, to cut costs.
Mountlake Terrace City Councilman Seaun Richards tried and failed to recruit someone to run against Councilwoman Kyoko Matsumoto Wright, so he did it himself.
If he loses, it’s no big deal. He still has two years left in his regular term. If he wins, he’ll get a fresh four-year term and then someone would be appointed to the seat he currently holds.
That’s Richards’ goal. He said he’s doing this simply to get “new blood” on the council. Wright said she’s never quite figured out if that is really the motive. And she’s concerned voters might not realize Richards is already on the council, so electing him doesn’t get a new person for the job.
Advise and consent
The most confusing items might be the nonbinding tax advisory measures at the head of the ballot.
Back in 2007, voters passed an initiative dreamed up by Tim Eyman, of Mukilteo. It says if lawmakers approve a tax increase without putting it to a vote, then the electorate gets to offer its opinion after the fact.
Earlier this year lawmakers enacted the largest single increase in the statewide property tax to help fund public schools. It also approved levying of sales tax on bottled water to bring in some dough.
So now voters can tell lawmakers whether they think those taxes should be repealed or maintained. The results are advisory and not binding.
These measures first showed up statewide in 2012. This year’s offerings are the 16th, 17th and 18th.
Save a stamp
If you don’t want to pay postage, there are 14 designated boxes in Snohomish County in which voted ballots can be placed without a stamp. Here are the locations of those drop boxes:
Arlington: 135 N Washington Ave. (near library)
Bothell: 22833 Bothell Everett Highway (QFC parking lot)
Edmonds: 650 Main St. (near library)
Everett: 1: Rockefeller Avenue and Wall Street (Courthouse Campus) 2: 600 128th St SE (McCollum Park)
Granite Falls: 815 E. Galena St. (near library)
Lake Stevens: 1800 Main St. (near city boat launch)
Lynnwood: 19100 44th Ave. (in front of City Hall)
Marysville: 1049 State Ave. (behind City Hall)
Monroe: 1070 Village Way (near library)
Mountlake Terrace: 23300 58th Ave. W. (near library)
Mukilteo: 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd. (near library)
Snohomish: 311 Maple Ave. (near library)
Stanwood: 9701 271st St. NW (near library)
In addition, a mobile ballot drop box van will be parked from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday in the Darrington IGA parking lot, 1090 Seeman St. and from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Tuesday at Marysville’s Twin Lakes Park, 16324 Twin Lakes Ave.
Voters may also drop completed ballots at the county Auditor’s Office on Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The office is located at 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett.
If you mail back your ballot, it must be postmarked no later than Nov. 7. Ballots arriving with a later postmark will not be counted.
For more information, call the elections office 425-388-3444 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org