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Editorial: Return Bader to Everett council in at-large position

Among Scott Bader, Demi Chatters and Brian Hennessy, Bader’s past experience shouldn’t be passed up.

By The Herald Editorial Board

After a years-long process to switch the Everett City Council to district representation, voters this year will choose among candidates tor the city council’s two remaining at-large seats — Positions 6 and 7 — who work with the five district-elected council members.

Position 6: Brenda Stonecipher, currently council president, has served nearly 20 years on the council, but announced in January she would not seek re-election. Position 6 has drawn four candidates, two of whom will move on from the primary to the Nov. 7 general election.

The candidates are:

Demi Chatters, an Everett resident since 1998, is a former small business owner with 12 years of experience in real estate sales, appraisal and property management in Snohomish and King counties. Chatters ran for the council’s District 5 seat in 2021, losing to Ben Zarlingo.

Brian Hennessy, who grew up in Snohomish County and Everett, and after retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard after 20 years of service, returned to Everett. He works as a substitute teacher and stay-at-home dad.

Scott Bader, who serves as director of parish financial services for the Archdiocese of Seattle, previously served on the city council between 2012 and 2021. The reorganization of the council into districts would have forced him to run against other incumbents in 2021. When plans to move to another district fell through, Bader sat out that election but has now returned to run for the open at-large seat on the council, following Stonecipher’s decision not to seek re-election.

Bill D. Wheeler Jr., is retired from the U.S. Air Force, and works as an environmental, health and safety specialist and facility maintenance technician. Wheeler was convicted in 2014 of sexually exploiting a 16-year-old barista who flashed customers for tips at one of two bikini barista coffee stands he owned. An appeals court upheld the conviction. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Wheeler was interviewed by phone, but in the opinion of the editorial board is not fit to serve on the council.

Chatters, Hennessy and Bader were interviewed jointly by the board.

The three shared similar concerns for housing affordability, homelessness and public safety issues for Everett.

Chatters noted that some 20 years ago she and her husband were able to afford a house in Everett with their combined salaries, but doesn’t believe those same conditions exist now for many; she’s running, she said, to affect policy that will aid families and the city’s quality of life through affordable housing, opportunities for workforce training and apprenticeships.

Hennessy, upon returning to Everett after his service, said he was amazed by the city’s growth and development, and agrees that housing affordability is a top issue for the city and suggests that promoting the supply of condominium-style housing might allow an affordable entry point for more.

Bader, who grew up in Everett, said it’s been the cost of housing that’s kept his family in the home they’ve owned in Everett. Bader noted a related concern, however, with the pace of housing construction and some of the larger apartment complexes and their potential effect on crime.

The council’s change to district representation has resulted in an apparent shift from more typical unanimity on most issues to some political division but perhaps deeper discussion of issues before the council. Bader, Hennessy and Chatters offered different perspectives on the council’s interactions and relations with the administration.

Chatters said she sees some of the recent conflicting opinions as an opportunity to better represent the diversity of the community and provide solutions to critical and entrenched problems.

Hennessy said the council’s district format now makes it important for individual council members to reflect the concerns on those districts and for the at-large members to work closely with fellow council members to understand those concerns and work toward consensus.

Bader, drawing from his past service on the council, noted the council often makes decisions on issues that don’t offer a wide range of options; that cities are often constrained in what they can and can’t do, meaning that past councils, while still representing different opinions were able to come to consensus on actions.

On issues related to public safety, Bader said state lawmakers this year did make needed reforms to how drug possession and drug use are addressed, but wants to see continued work to provide police, social workers and other tools to get those with addictions off the street and believes that moderates on the council in recent years have successfully supported that work, resulting in solutions such as pallet shelters and Clare’s Place, which provides supportive housing administered by Catholic Community Services.

Hennessy noted there are expenses in providing treatment for addiction, but believes that’s a necessary investment to restore people to health and participation in society.

Chatters said continued solutions regarding homelessness and addiction will require continued partnerships with the state, county and others so that providing that support doesn’t weigh unfairly on Everett residents and local providers. More capacity for treatment has to be provided, she said.

Hennessy, Chatters and Bader each demonstrated sincere desires to serve their community, backed by relevant experience, perspective and a commitment to civil discourse.

Bader has the advantage of his past service, not only on the council, but his previous work in co-founding the Cascade View Neighborhood association, as past treasurer for the Riverside Neighborhood group, leadership on the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee and in the 1990s effort to keep Everett Transit operating through a successful public vote on a sales tax increase.

With the departure of Stonecipher, Bader also can provide helpful background perspective on what has and hasn’t worked in the past.

The change to district representation likely interrupted Bader’s council career; his run for an at-large position allows voters the opportunity to restore a council member who had worked well within the council for several years and sought workable solutions to the city’s challenges.

In Friday’s Herald: The endorsement for Everett City Council, Position 7.

2023 primary election

The primary election for local offices is Aug. 1. Ballots, which were mailed July 12, must be returned to drop boxes or postmarked by Aug. 1. The voters guide was mailed July 11. Voters also can consult an online voters guide at vote.wa.gov.

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