EVERETT — This November, one of the more moderate Everett councilmembers, Scott Bader, is facing a progressive challenger, school teacher Joseph Erikson.
Councilmember Liz Vogeli, heading for her second election in a year, is squaring off against small-business owner Marian LaFountaine.
Both contested races are for two-year terms as the city starts to transition to district elections.
Councilmembers Brenda Stonecipher and Judy Tuohy did not draw opposition. They will serve the traditional four-year terms. These positions will become the two at-large positions when district elections begin in 2021.
With a budget deficit of up to $20 million looming over the city next year, the council will face big cost-cutting decisions. Last year Mayor Cassie Franklin warned the city will have to consider eliminating programs and services to rein in spending. Merging some amenities with regional systems — such as libraries, fire or transit — has been floated as an option.
All of that has become fodder for the council elections.
Bader said the city has done a good job of making cuts and becoming more efficient. To make those larger decisions, such as what to do with Everett Transit, he favors putting sales tax increases in front of the voters.
“That’s emblematic of the kind of solutions we are going to have to put before the voters — maintain service levels, additional service,” Bader said. “And is that worth paying for?”
To bridge the budget gap in the long run, Erikson looks to encourage more homebuilding, and to make investments in amenities such as sidewalks and lighting to make Everett more attractive. That would grow the tax base. He also wants to see the state’s tax system reworked to make it less regressive. Erikson said local officials can help make that happen by putting pressure on state leaders.
When pressed for what to do in the short term, Erikson suggested making cuts to the police department. He doesn’t support merging Everett Transit with Community Transit, worried that could mean the end of some local bus routes.
After passing a plan that allows more density in downtown, Everett embarked on a citywide rezoning effort aimed at ensuring there is a wide range of housing at various prices. City staff is in the process of presenting a draft to residents.
Erikson supports allowing multifamily housing, such as duplexes, triplexes and small apartment buildings, in single-family areas. And to add more homes, which he said isn’t happening fast enough, he supports repurposing golf courses.
Density can be livable, Erikson said.
Bader is more cautious.
“Generally, slightly higher density is okay, I’m just afraid of neighborhoods becoming overwhelmed,” he said. “One thing I want to keep my eye on is parking.”
Bader voted with the rest of the council to halt, at least temporarily, a 34-unit supportive housing project that Housing Hope and the Everett School District proposed for the Port Gardner neighborhood.
He criticized what he said was the lack of a public process from the district and the nonprofit housing developer.
Erikson has been an outspoken supporter of the project, pointing to the more than 1,200 students in the Everett School District experiencing homelessness.
“The cost of doing nothing, that is more of a burden on classrooms,” he said. “It wouldn’t have cost the city a dime.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Bader’s campaign had raised $21,400 to Erikson’s $13,200.
Vogeli is running for re-election after winning her seat on the council last year to finish an unexpired term.
“I get out there and find answers,” Vogeli said.
Her approach to balancing upcoming budgets includes working with the Port of Everett and Snohomish County to revitalize the city and attract more businesses. She wants the city to allow “legitimate” businesses to expand — particularly marijuana stores by increasing the number of shops allowed in Everett.
Vogeli opposes merging Everett Transit with Community Transit.
“We need the local service to get people out of their cars,” she said.
LaFountaine is still shaping her ideas when it comes to balancing the budget.
“I would investigate what has been done so far and look for other avenues to balance the budget,” she said. “Move funds, depending on where funds are needed.”
LaFountaine did propose increasing some permit fees.
“We could look into raising them up a little to bring in more revenue,” she said.
As the city rethinks zoning regulations, both Vogeli and LaFountaine support allowing more types of housing in single-family neighborhoods.
Single-family homes are not a way to move forward, Vogeli said, and it’s the least effective type of housing. Design standards will ensure that new buildings fit into existing areas, she said.
“Putting in apartment complexes and duplexes and triplexes might be an avenue the city should consider,” LaFountaine said. “I think it should be spread out through the city.”
LaFountaine said she decided to run for council to become more involved in the city.
“Owning a small business has given me the ability to understand what it means to balance a budget,” LaFountaine. “I am a team player, I can take the voice of the voters to the board.”
As of Thursday, Vogeli’s campaign had received $11,300 to LaFountaine’s $1,900.
Next year councilmembers will make $29,865 a year plus benefits.
Ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 5 or deposited in one of the county’s 22 designated drop boxes open around the clock until 8 p.m. on election day.
Meet the candidates
Experience: Elected to City Council in a special election in 2012 and re-elected in 2015; previously served on the Everett Transportation Advisory Committee; works as the director of parish financial services for the Archdiocese of Seattle.
Experience: Teaches social studies to grades 7-12 at Edmonds Heights; former 38th Legislative District Democrats PCO coordinator; former teachers’ union building representative.
Experience: Elected to city council 2018 to fill an expired term; was on Everett Districts Now’s executive board; community organizer.
Experience: Runs a small electrical consulting business; volunteers with church; involved in the Port Gardner PTSA.