Two City Council District Questions For Everett Voters: Yes Or No And 4 Or 5 Districts?

November 4, 2018

Everett Government


On the ballot as Proposition 1 and Proposition 2.

We’re highlighting a few races for folks living in Everett. Election Day is Tuesday and while you don’t have to put a stamp on your ballot you must still sign the envelope and make sure it is postmarked no later than the 6th. You can also put it in a drop box by 8 PM election night. In Everett there is a ballot drop box out front of the county courthouse at Wall and Rockefeller in downtown Everett and also in the parking lot between Sears and Famous Dave’s at the Everett Mall.

Voters in Everett are being asked two questions regarding whether the city charter should be changed from electing all city council members at-large to one where there is a mixture of at-large seats and seats restricted to geographic districts. All information below comes from the WA Voter’s Guide.

The first question is known as Proposition 1

The City Council has submitted to the voters five Charter amendments concerning Council elections. If approved, by amending Charter sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and 9.1, a specified number of the Council’s seven members would be elected within districts determined by an independent commission, and the other City Council members and Mayor would be elected citywide. Districts would be re-drawn following each ten-year federal Census. Council positions would have four-year terms, subject to certain transition provisions.

Should these proposed Charter amendments be:


Ballot title approved by the City Attorney’s Office (August 6, 2018).

Explanatory Statement
The City Council has placed two propositions before the qualified electors with regard to the proposed amendments to sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and 9.1 of the City Charter. Proposition No. 1 is whether the proposed amendments to the five indicated Charter sections be approved such that a specified number of City Council positions are to be elected from separate geographical districts and that a specified number of City Council positions are to be elected citywide.

Under the current Charter, all seven City Council position are elected by citywide election. If Proposition No. 1 is approved, the Charter will be changed so that some of the City Council positions shall be elected by geographic districts and some will be elected by citywide election.

If Proposition No. 1 is approved, the number of City Council positions which will be elected by geographic districts and the number of City Council positions which will be elected citywide is implemented as two alternatives in Proposition No. 2.

Argument For

Fair representation is the foundation of our governance. To assure fair and equitable representation many political positions are elected from districts, including federal and state house representatives, state senators, county council members, PUD commissioners, and port commissioners. District representation in cities is common; over 23 Washington cities have council districts. These include large cities: Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma, as well as cities closer to Everett in size: Bellingham, Bremerton, Yakima, and soon, Wenatchee.

District elections assure residents that no single area of the city has control over all governance decisions. In Everett, 5 of 7 council members now live north of 41st Street and within a 1.5-mile radius. That equates to 71% of city council members living in an area covering only 14% of our city!

Our city council does not currently reflect our diverse community. Election by district will strengthen our ability to be more inclusive in representation.

Many citizens interested in running for Everett city council are prohibited by the high cost incurred and the tremendous time required for a city-wide campaign. District elections remove barriers and make running for council feasible for many that otherwise could not. The result is a candidate elected from your local district neighborhood that is more accessible to you and better able to hear and understand the problems and issues that matter most to you and your neighbors.

A City of Everett survey found that of Everett residents responding over 80% wanted districts. Vote yes on Proposition One for council district elections!

Argument Against

Don’t Divide Everett! Vote NO on Districts Proposition 1

Districting will reduce the say Everett voters have in the selection of their city council representation. The current at-large system allows you and all Everett voters to vote for all seven city council positions regardless of where you or the candidates live. If districting passes, you will lose the right to vote for most of the councilmembers. You will only be able to vote in your single district and for any at-large positions that remain.

Districts make geography the most important factor over things voters care more about including the candidate’s position on issues, experience, competence, diversity etc. Voters have shown those factors are more important than where the candidate lives.

Districting would narrow the focus of councilmembers. The current at-large system forces all councilmembers to depend on and pay attention to voters throughout the city – not just their own area.

In Washington cities of similar size to Everett that elect council members by district rather than at-large, voter participation, number of candidates running, and diversity of councils are no better, and in some cases worse.

Proponents of this measure are trying to divide our city but failed to collect enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot in 2017 and 2018, indicating low public support. Now is the time for voters to firmly reject districting!

Today you have a voice in the selection of ALL councilmembers. Why would you give that up? Vote NO on Districts.

Regardless of how you voted in Proposition 1 Proposition 2 is a second separate question with only two options.

The City Council has submitted to the voters five Charter amendments concerning Council elections. If a majority of the City’s electors votes in favor of Proposition #1 so that a specified number of the Council’s seven members are to be elected within districts, then regardless of whether you voted “Approved” or “Rejected” on Proposition #1, should the number of Council Districts be five (“Option A”) or four (“Option B”)?

Five Council Districts and two Citywide (Option A)
Four Council Districts and three Citywide (Option B)

Ballot title approved by the City Attorney’s Office (August 6, 2018).

Explanatory Statement
Proposition No. 2 is contingent upon the approval of Proposition No. 1.If a majority of the electors approve Proposition No. 1, then Proposition No. 2 asks the electors which of two options to select for the Charter amendments to Section 2.1, Section 2.2, Section 2.3, Section 2.4, and Section 9.1: (a) the Option A version provides that the specified number of districts should be five (5), with the remaining two (2) Council members to be elected citywide; or (b) the Option B version which provides that the specified number of districts should be four (4), with the remaining three (3) Council members to be elected citywide.

If, and only if, a majority of the electors of the City voting on Proposition No. 1 votes in its favor, then the option receiving the majority of votes of the electors on Proposition No. 2 shall determine whether the Option A or the Option B version prevails.

Argument For

Electing five city council members from districts and two members citywide (5/2 districts) will create fair and equitable representation.

According to the city’s public outreach, 74% of residents surveyed preferred at least five districts (31% preferred 5/2 districts, the most popular choice)! Only 13% preferred four districts/three citywide because fewer districts allow the power to stay in one place.

5/2 districts encourage coalition building to pass new laws, assures continuity, and withstands legal scrutiny. A councilmember from each of five districts will live in his/her district and will be aware of local issues and better able to address them (like new development proposals, traffic, and drug houses).

The alternative of four districts with three citywide maintains the status quo, as three citywide candidates and the district candidate could be elected from the same district and control the four-vote majority. This is the inequity we now have – four Council members from the northern area of the city. As a result, the southern parts of Everett are underserved with parks, sidewalks, and disproportionately impacted with crime and blight. We can do better.

5/2 districts is the People’s Choice plan created by the community effort, Everett Districts Now, and is endorsed by: League of Women Voters, NAACP, Everett Firefighters 46, Carpenters Union 70, Snohomish County Young Democrats, Snohomish County Democrats, Snohomish County Libertarians and the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington. No other proposal has broad community and nonpartisan support. Please vote for Option A: 5/2 Districts for fair and equitable representation.

Argument Against

If voters approve districting on November 6, they must also vote their preference for either five districts or four, with the remaining two or three Council positions being “at-large”. These are the so-called 5-2 and 4-3 alternatives, presented as Option A and Option B on the ballot. Option B (4-3) should be the voters’ choice.

Everett is both a major population and employment center in the Puget Sound region and an assemblage of 19 neighborhoods extending 10 miles north to south and six miles east to west. We must work together as a City to assert our place in the region, and work together locally to meet the needs of our neighborhoods. Every voter has a right to determine those Council members who will help achieve both. Every voter has a right to help determine the majority of those members.

Option B allows you, the voter, to have a say in who the council majority will be. Under the 4-3 system, you will help elect the three at large council members, plus the one member representing your neighborhood. Voters should feel comfortable having full access to four representatives vs. three. Those who are concerned that five districts will create an air of competition between neighborhoods, should find comfort in knowing that by their vote, they have affected the Council majority.

Option B should, by every measure of representative government, be the peoples’ choice.

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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring news and events in Everett, Washington. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett.

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