If you recall the controversy last year that followed Shannon Affholter’s mid-term resignation from the Everett City Council, you might remember that the conservative male majority chose to appoint one of their own rather than choose from the five highly qualified women supported by the citizens.
You might also remember that Judy Tuohy, despite being passed over during that initial selection process, responded with a robust campaign and soundly defeated Richard Anderson in the next election. But if you remember all that, it follows that you might be disappointed to learn that the men in control of this town haven’t learned a thing from that previous experience as they proved at this week’s City Council meeting.
The first order of council business on Wednesday was a meeting of the new public safety subcommittee, chaired by Judy Tuohy, with Brenda Stonecipher and Jeff Moore in attendance. The very well-attended public meeting provided the forum for an enlightening discussion about Everett’s street level crime and homelessness issues, and concluded with the Mayor Ray Stephanson’s announcement that he will commit $1 million in 2016 to address these critical concerns.
While this is a paltry sum for such a complex challenge, just weeks ago the mayor was pledging no new funding targeted to address homelessness. It was clear to everyone in attendance that the mayor’s change of heart was prompted by community pressure, but also came at the urging of Tuohy, Stonecipher and the other council members who are on the frontlines with residents and local businesses contacting them daily to express their concerns.
During the regular council meeting that immediately followed, Everett resident Megan Dunn, representing a larger group of citizens, (including city council candidates Cassie Franklin and Charlene Rawson), made a compelling presentation about the benefits of electing counci lmembers by district and urged the council to study her proposal to create voting districts in Everett. Stonecipher agreed, proposing that the council’s general government subcommittee study Ms. Dunn’s proposal and consider putting it on the ballot to let voters decide if they want to vote by district.
The council good-old-boys hemmed and hawed, but didn’t really want to think or talk about districts, since it would force many of them to run against one another in the same district. In the end, only Stonecipher and Tuohy altruistically voted in favor of the council discussing districts further, while the good-old-boys voted against, one suspects to protect their turf. Clearly this matter will have to be put in citizens’ hands through an initiative process and, if the past is any indication of the future, the voters will make the best decision for Everett.
In the meantime, take heed of the message illustrated by these proceedings. On Nov. 3r, it is obvious you should re-elect Stonecipher and Tuohy, but you should also elect the other qualified women on the ballot: Cassie Franklin and Charlene Rawson. Last evening’s events illustrate that the studies showing women are better legislators and more responsive to the electorate are true.
Christina Robertson is a resident of Everett.