If the goal of term limits has been to open the path toward elected office to fresher faces, the race for Snohomish County Council’s Position 2 has accomplished that.
Limited to two terms, current council member Brian Sullivan has moved on to a run for county treasurer against Marysville’s Rob Toyer. That left Sullivan’s seat open, and the opportunity attracted eight candidates — one Republican and seven Democrats — to the August primary, which pared the field to two: Democrat Megan Dunn and Republican Anna Rohrbough.
Noting a strong field of candidates, The Herald Editorial Board prior to the primary endorsed Cecilia Wilson, a member of County Executive Dave Somers office. Wilson did not advance, requiring a reconsideration of Rohrbough and Dunn, for which both were reinterviewed.
Prior to the primary, the editorial board also endorsed the County Council’s District 3 incumbent Stephanie Wright, a recommendation that the board reaffirms.
Rohrbough has served on the Mukilteo City Council since 2018, winning election in 2017. For the council she has served on several committees, including finance, infrastructure and public safety. Prior service in the region includes the Snohomish County Tomorrow steering committee, the Puget Sound Regional Council’s economic development board and project selection committee.
Rohrbough has a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science. She works as a leadership trainer and has worked as a TedX speaker and coach and a certified financial adviser.
On the Mukilteo council, Rohrbough has practiced good stewardship toward taxpayers’ concerns during city budget consideration, and she has been a strong advocate for municipal accountability and transparency during her tenure, including a challenge to the mayor and council on city employee severance payments.
Dunn has not held elected office before but has served on several public committees, including as an alternate to the Everett planning commission, on the Everett Safe Streets task force that considered policy responses to the city’s opioid and homelessness issues, overseeing grants with the city’s Human Needs Committee and with the state PTA as a regional legislative coordinator.
Dunn has a maser’s degree in policy studies and works as a program director for the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides. She has also worked with the University of Washington’s Sea Grant program and the Service Employees International Union.
Dunn is best known as a leader in a campaign to win voter approval of a change for the Everett City Council from electing its members at-large to electing five of the seven seats by districts.
As both Rohrbough and Dunn have experience relevant to the county council, attention turns to each candidate’s stand on issues. A review of statements and past experience supports Dunn’s endorsement.
Rohrbough’s campaign has made crime, especially that related to drug addiction, a focus. She supports efforts to get those with addiction into treatment and has advocated for what she’s called a dual-diagnosis treatment center that would deliver treatment to those with addiction or mental health issues. But she also seeks a tougher line on the crime associated with addiction and agrees with sheriff’s candidate Adam Fortney in opposing a policy of Sheriff Ty Trenary to exclude some people arrested for misdemeanors from booking when the jail’s medical and mental health units are over capacity.
As the editorial board stated in its endorsement of Trenary, the policy — which avoids booking an average of one or two people a day, nonviolent offenders who are intoxicated and have health issues — balances concern for inmates, jail staff, the general public and the sheriff’s budget.
Dunn, considering her service with the city’s Safe Streets initiative, is better prepared to work on issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health on the council. And Dunn is better aligned with leaders in the county and its communities who are implementing workable solutions to those issues, in particular Trenary’s reminder that the county can’t arrest its way out of the opioid crisis.
Dunn demonstrates sound knowledge and preparation regarding her approach to related issues of affordable housing, transportation and environmental concerns and climate change, advising a review that allows more options on housing and streamlined permitting, but seeing opportunities for building that are less harmful to the environment.
In contrast, Rohrbough sees such review and regulation as a roadblock to affordable housing, a zero-sum approach that looks past the opportunities that Dunn advocates and for which she has consulted those in the building industry.
Dunn also makes a stronger case for locally based efforts to address climate change. She would serve as an informed representative on that and other environmental issues for the council.
The council’s second district serves diverse communities in Everett, Mukilteo and Tulalip. Dunn’s past work on a range of subjects relevant to those communities would add to a county council that is well balanced in its skills and largely collaborates in a bipartisan manner.
A note on political advertising
In September, Anna Rohrbough’s campaign purchased advertising on the HeraldNet website that was written in the style of a news story and was labeled as “sponsored content.” This is an advertising option routinely offered to political and nonpolitical advertisers. When first posted the content was incorrectly bylined as having been written by The Herald’s news staff. It was not, and the attribution was later corrected. Neither Herald news staff nor its editorial board had a hand in writing the advertisement. Nor has the advertisement, nor any political advertisement, played any role in the editorial board’s endorsements regarding political office and ballot measures.