Members of the Snohomish County Council. From left: Nate Nehring, Stephanie Wright, Brian Sullivan, Terry Ryan and Sam Low. (Snohomish County Council)

Members of the Snohomish County Council. From left: Nate Nehring, Stephanie Wright, Brian Sullivan, Terry Ryan and Sam Low. (Snohomish County Council)

A stunning show of Snohomish County Council bipartisanship

The council has appointed a Republican vice chairman. But not every Democrat is on board.

EVERETT — With partisan gridlock festering in Washington, D.C., Snohomish County’s elected officials are eager to set themselves apart. They hope to demonstrate that around here, political folks of different strokes can get along.

An unusual arrangement for 2019 installed Republican Nate Nehring as vice chairman of the Democrat-majority County Council. Democrat Terry Ryan will serve as council chairman.

“We’re going to show everybody in government that Republicans and Democrats can work together to get things done for the county,” Ryan said. “In the end, the most important thing is that we’re all working for the betterment of Snohomish County.”

Nehring, grateful for the support, expected “significant progress on our most pressing issues this year.” This year’s goals include attracting jobs and development to Paine Field and to the industrial area on the east side of I-5 between Arlington and Marysville.

This is the first time in more than a decade that the council’s two leadership roles have been split between the parties. Democrats control three of the five council seats.

Meanwhile, a partial shutdown of the federal government has lingered into the middle of its third week. It started after congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump failed to reach an agreement over paying for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Snohomish County Councilman Nate Nehring. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Snohomish County Councilman Nate Nehring. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Trump has insisted on getting $5.7 billion for the barrier, which Democrats oppose. The president planned to address the nation Tuesday at 6 p.m. Pacific time about what he describes as a crisis along the southern U.S. border.

In Snohomish County, leaders have little say on policing the national frontier. They’re more worried about widening highways and opening parks.

On the council, they typically rotate leadership roles among members of the majority party, although they have made at least one exception in the past. The vice chairperson customarily becomes the chairperson the next year. Under that pattern, this would have been Councilman Brian Sullivan’s turn to take on the second-ranking position.

Sullivan, however, is entering his 12th and final year on the council. Term limits will force him to step down at the end of December. He’s preparing to run for another post, county treasurer, this fall.

“The unique circumstance of Brian being term-limited opened this opportunity,” Ryan said

Not everybody was on board with the arrangement, namely the two Democrats not named Terry Ryan.

Sullivan abstained from supporting Ryan and voted against Nehring. Councilwoman Stephanie Wright, last year’s chairperson, voted against Ryan as her successor and abstained from supporting Nehring.

Nevertheless, they both signaled they’re ready to work across the aisle.

“I’m looking forward to a year of bipartisanship and cooperation,” Sullivan said. “Let’s keep the peace and have tranquility in my last year in office.”

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
‘White saviorhood’: Mukilteo schools end ‘Mockingbird’ requirement

The book is not banned in the school district. The last book brought before the school board was by Maya Angelou.

Jesse Spitzer (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Wanted man fled from Gold Bar to Idaho, police say

Jesse Spitzer, 30, who has a history of violence against officers, is wanted for felonies in two states.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Guv will testify; a dinosaur is revived; GOP is resurgent

Here’s what’s happening on Day 17 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

Police looking for Mukilteo bank robber, seeking tips

The man appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, white, slender, about 5-foot-8, with dark blond hair.

Police: Marysville Pilchuck student arrested for wielding knife

Neither of the students involved in the Wednesday morning fight was injured, police reported.

Registered nurse Estella Wilmarth tends to a patient in the acute care unit of Harborview Medical Center, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, in Seattle. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is deploying 100 members of the state National Guard to hospitals across the state amid staff shortages due to an omicron-fueled spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Inslee announced Thursday that teams will be deployed to assist four overcrowded emergency departments at hospitals in Everett, Yakima, Wenatchee and Spokane, and that testing teams will be based at hospitals in Olympia, Richland, Seattle and Tacoma. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Past the omicron peak? Snohomish County’s COVID cases declining

Hospitalizations are still a concern, however, and infections in Eastern Washington and Idaho could have ripple effects here.

A map of city council districts and districting commission nominees put forth by the Everett City Council and mayor. (City of Everett)
Everett council, mayor pick districting commission nominees

Only one returns from the previous commission, while another is a former city council member.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Despite Arizona move, Everett leaders expect Funko HQ to stay

The toymaker is closing Everett warehouses. But a recent “HQ2” expansion has the city confident Funko will remain rooted here.

Lynnwood Public Works employees on the snow plow crew sit in front of one of the city's two plows that will be named based on results of an online public vote. (City of Lynnwood)
Lynnwood snow plow names: Snowbi Wan Kenobi, Plowy McPlowface

They got the two highest votes in an online public survey by Lynnwood Public Works.

Most Read