EVERETT — Shean Nasin was bursting with ideas and intensity when he sat down for an interview.
The Everett mayoral candidate flipped through a spiral notebook, lamenting his hometown’s hard-luck economic fortunes.
What would it take to put the historically blue-collar city on the cusp of the next big thing? He wants to recruit tech companies, to start thinking about self-driving cars and buses. He’s even game for trying to lure the Sonics to town, with incentives to build a pro-basketball arena on Everett’s industrial waterfront.
The ideas keep coming.
“Why aren’t we growing like Seattle? Like Bellevue?” Nasin said. “For me, economics is the crux of it all with Everett. Everett — there’s something — it can’t seem to get over the hurdle or the hump.”
Nasin, 43, is making his first run for public office. That sets him apart from three other candidates seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Ray Stephanson, who plans to retire at the end of the year.
At stake is a four-year term running Snohomish County’s most-populous city. Also competing for the job are Everett City Councilwoman Cassie Franklin, who oversees Cocoon House, a nonprofit for at-risk and homeless teens; city Councilwoman Judy Tuohy, who heads up the nonprofit Schack Art Center; and Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan, a former Mukilteo mayor, Mukilteo city councilman and state lawmaker who also owns a restaurant.
The Aug. 1 primary will whittle the field in half.
Nasin works as a substitute teacher and as an assistant basketball coach for Everett High School. He and his wife owned ReFresh Clothing Boutique on Wetmore Avenue for about five years before selling it in early 2016. The business has since closed.
Nasin campaigns in button-up shirts, sometimes donning a sports jacket.
He was born and raised in Everett. He grew up in some of the city’s rougher areas: the projects in north Everett, the Casino Road area and the neighborhood known as “the jungle” near Everett Mall.
An accomplished athlete, Nasin, an outfielder, played on the baseball team for Bellevue University in Nebraska.
He returned home, but understands why people leave. Nasin faults city leaders for not being more forward-thinking.
“We’re losing talent and we have to stop it,” he said.
Nasin complements his outsider status with novel approaches.
He’s a political independent in a race where the others identify as Democrats. He describes himself as fiscally conservative, but he drives an all-electric Nissan Leaf.
“I’m the only nonpartisan person in the race — it’s a nonpartisan position,” he said.
He supports term limits for city offices: “two max.”
He favors City Council elections by districts, including a plan backed by signature-gatherers.
While Nasin has lived in several parts of the city, he considers downtown crucial to its overall success. A vibrant urban core, he said, would attract the kind of bright, young workers that tech companies want. The city for too long, in his opinion, has relied on blue-collar jobs, which are getting outsourced and killed by automation.
He enthusiastically supports commercial flights at Paine Field, which he called “the second-most important project in the history of Everett, only behind Boeing.” Like others, he’s excited about the possibility of providing Everett-area businesses with more access to Silicon Valley investment capital.
He drew gasps at a recent forum by saying he’d like to see 100 flights per day at Paine Field. That’s far beyond the maximum two-dozen daily takeoffs and landings now proposed for the small terminal that’s under construction. It would be impossible without clearing extensive federal regulatory hurdles.
Nasin keeps returning to the subject of boosting incomes. Everett’s median income remains mired around $52,000, but in Seattle it tops $80,000. That’s according to U.S. Census data released last fall. The actual numbers are sure to have grown.
Nasin sees enormous potential for self-driving buses in the city’s mass transit system. To make it happen, he imagines the city teaming up with Google parent company Alphabet Inc., electric car maker Tesla or ride-hailing company Uber Technologies.
“I think it’s going to be the next big thing,” he said. “I really do.”
Autonomous buses would cost a fraction of what Sound Transit is spending on a light-rail system, which is supposed to reach Everett in 2036, Nasin contends.
“Light rail will be obsolete when it gets here in 20 years, if it gets here,” he said.
Nasin supports low-barrier housing, but wants to see more of it in places such as Mukilteo and Mill Creek. He also takes a tough-on-crime stance.
When it comes to fundraising, Nasin lags his rivals. By mid-week, he had reported $10,860 to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Sullivan led with $118,625, followed by Franklin with $60,601 and Tuohy with $56,838.
The mayor oversees nearly 1,200 employees at full staffing and an annual operating budget of $131.7 million. The job pays about $182,000 per year.
For Nasin, the campaign isn’t about the nuts and bolts of running a bureaucracy, but creative thinking to break out of a defeatist mindset.
“We need to understand how we got here,” he said. “It’s because we’ve fallen asleep at the wheel and we didn’t start making changes 30 years ago.”
Shean Nasin is the last of the four Everett mayoral candidates to be profiled in The Daily Herald this week.
Tuesday, July 18: Brian Sullivan
Wednesday, July 19: Judy Tuohy
Thursday, July 20: Cassie Franklin