EVERETT — Whoever wins the open Everett City Council seat this election will have some tough decisions to make next year.
More long-term budget cuts will be needed to reign in the multimillion dollar deficit facing the city as homelessness and the opioid epidemic continue to rank as top issues concerning residents.
Tyler Rourke and Liz Vogeli are vying for Position 4.
On the campaign trail, Rourke heard a lot of ideas to address homelessness.
“Nobody has a good answer for what we are all witnessing and experiencing,” he said.
He and Vogeli both support the city exploring a safe parking program for people experiencing homelessness. The city is looking to partner with faith-based groups to launch a pilot program that would include designated spots where people could park overnight.
“People living in the woods is not good,” Rourke said. “Anything that is an improvement on that is worth considering.”
Vogeli believes tiny homes could be another option for addressing the issue.
“But they need to have electricity, plumbing and heat,” she said. “So it’s not just a box to stuff people in that might keep them more safe than a tent.”
The candidates are split on the council districting measure, also on the ballot.
Vogeli sits on Everett Districts Now’s executive board. The group says that having five of seven councilmembers living north of 41st Street has left many neighborhoods in the southern part of the city with no direct voice in local government.
“The argument against districts is that not enough people vote,” Vogeli said. “That might be because they aren’t being listened to and there has been no physical representation.”
Rourke isn’t so sure electing councilmembers from geographical areas will increase voter participation in south Everett.
“It could be good for the city. It could have unintended consequences,” Rourke said. “I’m glad to see the voters are either going to get credit for making a good decision or take responsibility if it doesn’t go so well.”
Next year, to balance the city’s budget, Mayor Cassie Franklin plans to look for savings within several departments, including transit, fire and libraries.
Both candidates support eliminating one of the city-owned golf courses.
Vogeli says the city also needs to bring in new revenue, but wants to prevent cuts to programs like the animal farm and the city’s library system. She said those activities are important to families on a budget.
Rourke is willing to consider merging Everett Transit and the city’s libraries with regional systems. He said it might be better for taxpayers if they had easier access to county libraries.
Vogeli, who chairs the Westmont-Holly Neighborhood Association, helped revamp the group. She is the secretary for the 38th Legislative District Democrats and served as an ombudsman for the Coast Guard for a year.
Rourke, a project engineer for an aerospace company, lives in the Glacier View neighborhood. He leads the city’s transportation advisory committee and is a board member of the Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop. Rourke recently was elected to the YMCA board of trustees.
As of Friday afternoon, Vogeli had raised a little more than $20,000, according to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission. Rourke’s contributions totaled nearly $26,000.
A seat on the City Council pays about $28,000 a year. Position 4 belonged to Franklin before she was elected mayor last year. Ethel McNeal was appointed in January until the next election. McNeal did not advance from the primary.
Ballots are due Tuesday.
Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @lizzgior.