It’s appropriate that as the city of Everett, with a population of more than 111,000, adapts to growth and change, its city council is undergoing its own change; two of the four city council positions up for election will serve only two-year terms, rather than the usual four-year term.
The two-year terms for Positions 4 and 5 are part of the council’s shift from election of members at-large to district representation.
Position 4: Incumbent Liz Vogeli is challenged by Marian LaFountaine.
Vogeli won election last November to the seat to fill an unexpired term.
A former Head Start teacher, therapeutic child care provider and ombudsman for the U.S. Coast Guard, Vogeli played to her background as a community organizer in her first campaign for office.
LaFountaine, an Everett resident for 31 years owns and operates an electrical contracting business with her husband. She’s involved with the Port Gardner PTSA, volunteers with her church’s mission work to homeless people and volunteers with her husband to coach Boys and Girls Club sports teams.
LaFountaine told the editorial board that she was running to provide a voice for the community on the council and wants to focus on issues of homelessness, public safety and assistance for the city’s small businesses. She offered few detailed proposals regarding those issues, saying she would need some time on council to gather background before voicing support for specific plans.
Vogeli, in her first year, has jumped into the work, organizing round-table discussions on housing, for example. Vogeli’s intention is to foster discussion around issues of affordable housing and homelessness but also to update residents regarding the city’s work on those issues. Vogeli backs the supportive and low-barrier housing projects in the city that have opened this year but believes the council took a necessary step to put a moratorium on such projects to allow a review by the planning commission. Once that work is completed, Vogeli said she wants to see a fair review of a Housing Hope proposal to build affordable housing for the families of homeless students on former Everett School District property on Norton Avenue.
Vogeli said she sees housing, transportation and public safety as issues often related to each other and said those issues will have her focus if she wins reelection.
In her first year on the council, she has sought to add to her knowledge of issues by serving on the National League of Cities’ committee on public safety and crime prevention.
Vogeli, coming from a community organizer background centered on social justice issues, has approached her relationships on the council as a consensus builder, not shying from her positions but working collaboratively with fellow council members. If it doesn’t always earn agreement from others on an issue, Vogeli said she’s felt her opinions are respected and given fair consideration.
While the editorial board recommended an opponent last year, Vogeli has shown herself to be an asset on the council and a good representative for the community. Everett voters can confidently return her to the council.
Position 5: Incumbent Scott Bader is challenged by Joseph Erikson. As with Position 4, the two are vying for a short two-year term.
Bader was appointed to the council in 2012 to fill a vacancy and won election in 2012 and reelection in 2015. He has worked in private law practice and currently serves as the director of parish financial services for the Catholic Church’s Seattle Archdioceses. Prior to his appointment on the council, he served for 15 years on the city’s transportation advisory committee.
Erikson, making his first run for office, teaches history, government and ethnic studies in the Edmonds School District. He also serves as a representative for the local teachers union.
As with his work as a teacher, Erikson said he views work on the council as a way to address tough questions and correct what isn’t working. Erickson is well-traveled, haing studied and worked for a time in the United Kingdom, showing him where other cities and nations that have hit on better ways to address some of Everett’s pressing issues, including affordable housing, transportation and climate change.
Erikson said the work of the city is complicated by limitations resulting from state and federal policies, including the state’s regressive tax system and the tax breaks that state lawmakers have provided to Boeing. But he believes there are options available for local decision makers to encourage development of affordable housing, transportation improvements and confronting poverty.
Erikson defends bold solutions to address the growth that’s coming to Everett and the region, even suggesting that the city consider redevelopment of one or both of its city-owned golf courses.
Bader doesn’t disagree with the needs Erikson points to, but said he feels the city is making steady progress to accomplish many of those goals, referring to the work that’s ramping up at the Waterfront and Riverfront developments, the Metro Everett plan, other downtown improvements and work to remodel the library in south Everett and creation of a new central Everett park adjacent to the YMCA’s new location.
Such improvements and assistance to address growth, Bader said, can continue, but the city also has challenges in addressing budget shortfalls while continuing to deliver services, responsibilities where Bader’s financial background is an asset.
During his time on the council, Bader has served the region well, representing it on the growth management committee for Puget Sound Regional Council, now considering its Vision 2050 plan, and on the Snohomish County Health District board. Bader, serving as council president in 2015 and this year, is viewed as a leader among his peers and has worked with all well, regardless of politics.
Bader’s experience on the council and with the city and his past work with neighborhood association demonstrate his commitment to serve and warrant his reelection.
Position 6: Brenda Stonecipher, on the council since 2004, is running unopposed for election to a four-year term.
Position 7: Judy Tuohy, first elected in 2014, is running unopposed for election to a four-year term.