Having settled some long-standing tensions over night meetings and other public-input issues, the Everett City Council has performed at a relatively high level, and with greater openness, for more than a year now. Thanks to prudent executive leadership and effective oversight and support by the coun
cil, the city is weathering financial challenges better than most, having avoided layoffs so far and maintaining healthy reserves.
The City Council doesn’t need an overhaul. With a deeper-than-usual field running for four seats this fall, our endorsements reflect a desire to maintain a meaningful diversity of viewpoints, and a reasonable balance of experience and fresh ideas. It’s also important that the council reflect a measure of the city’s geographic diversity.
With those priorities in mind, we endorse three of the incumbents — Ron Gipson, Drew Nielsen and Shannon Affholter. In a close call, we also endorse a challenger, Scott Bader, over an incumbent, Brenda Stonecipher.
Position 4: Gipson, the council’s longest-serving current member, is seeking a fifth term. He’s a decidedly working-class voice on the council, working as a corrections officer at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center. He knows the city well, having been born and raised here.
Gipson is assertive at council meetings, never hesitating to ask tough questions of colleagues and staff. Rather than looking 20 years into the future, Gipson is more focused on the next five, during which he says the city needs to attract more vocational training opportunities for teens and young adults “who won’t ever go to college.” They need good-paying jobs, Gipson says, and they can’t wait.
Gipson is challenged by a strong first-time candidate, June Robinson. As the executive director of the Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County, she’s intimately familiar with challenges faced by people in Everett’s lower-income neighborhoods, and has good ideas regarding transit service and other alternatives to single-occupant commuter trips. She’s smart and well-qualified, but doesn’t make a compelling case for replacing Gipson.
Position 5: Nielsen, a real-estate attorney, is seeking a second full term. He works hard, digs into issues, and has offered sharp and effective oversight. He’s an advocate for making smart strategic investments to attract employers, a view that we think needs to be represented — even if new spending isn’t a smart option for the time being.
He’s challenged by Erv Hoglund, a former airline pilot and longtime volunteer who has run several times for the Legislature. He’s a staunch fiscal conservative, a particularly strong point in times like these, but isn’t up to speed as much as he should be on the city’s financial picture. He didn’t realize, for example, that the city carries a 20 percent reserve.
Position 6: Our endorsement of Bader, an attorney who works for the Archdiocese of Seattle, isn’t a rap on the capable Stonecipher. Rather, it’s a recognition of Bader’s strengths, including 30 years as a South Everett resident (he now lives in the Riverside neighborhood) and his belief that the city has under-allocated resources to southern parts of the city.
Both Bader and Stonecipher are extremely bright, committed candidates. Bader would bring a firm focus on core services, understanding that tax revenues are almost certain to remain tight for some time to come. He would put a priority on keeping neighborhoods livable by pushing to make them more walkable — as North Everett neighborhoods already are — and ensuring that street maintenance gets done.
Stonecipher is a capable council member, but at times it seems she and Nielsen bring essentially the same approach to issues. Bader, it seems to us, would bring fresher ideas.
Position 7: As council president this year, Affholter has acted as a calm, moderate voice on the council. He brings a strong business sense and an open mind to issues.
His challenger, Jackie Minchew, is a passionate activist on a number of issues. Whether he makes it to the council or not, we’re confident he’ll continue to make positive contributions, forcing people to think about the long-term implications of growth and energy use.