Everett Districts Now re-formed as an ad hoc community-based committee in February 2019. Our mission is to support fair and equitable representation for City Council Districts in Everett as approved by the voters in 2018. Our short-term goal has been to increase citizen participation and to ensure the implementation of Propositions 1 and 2 from the 2018 election to establish districts for Everett.
We are encouraged that the 44 candidates for the Districting Commission came from 18 of the 19 neighborhoods in Everett. EDN worked to make that applicant process a success. Everett Districts Now representatives encouraged constituents to apply to the commission; we were responsible for the majority of the outreach and encouragement. We gave presentations to multiple city neighborhood meetings; we attended civic and community meetings to encourage applicants including the Casino Road Stakeholders, Communities of Color Coalition, For Everett, 38th LD and local churches. Prior to the election in 2018, we held educational events and made presentations at political and civic events.
We encourage the city administration and the Council to move forward with transparency and with a more robust plan for public outreach. We believe this would meet the goals of the Mayor’s strategic plan for improving public outreach, and we share a common goal of wanting to see public hearings that are well attended and inclusive. We look forward to building support for a public process and public hearings with a high level of attendance and involvement.
READ OUR COMMENT LETTER TO THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL RE: MOVING FORWARD WITH DISTRICTS.
In November 2018, Everett voters approved a change in how we vote for our city council members. Instead of voting for our 7 council members citywide, the new system will create five geographic voting districts for 5 City Council seats and keep 2 seats citywide.
Historically, a majority of Everett’s residents have lived south of 41st Street, but most of our elected officials have lived in the north of the city – causing many neighborhoods to not have a direct voice in local government. Through a grassroots, volunteer effort and partnering with the Snohomish League of Women Voters, Snohomish NAACP and other organizations, Everett Districts Now worked with the city to put a districts initiative on the 2018 ballot. Everett’s decision to change the election system joins with the decisions of other cities in Washington that have implemented districting. They have recognized that districts increases representation for all city communities. A great example of the value of districts is in the city of Yakima which has a Latino population of 40%. After implementing districts,Yakima elected three Latino City Council representatives for the first time in history.
The implementation of the 5/2 districting plan starts with the creation of a 9-member District Commission. The current 7 City Council members and the Mayor of Everett will each appoint one member to the commission from a pool of applicants,. The 8 appointed members will then choose a 9th member. The first job of the 9 commission members will be to hire a professional District Master to analyze population data and suggest district map boundaries. Then the 9 person commission will draw up a plan, determine the boundaries of the districts and seek input from the community. State law requires districts to have equal population, to be compact and to be geographically connected. The law also allows the District Commission to take into account areas of ethnic or cultural density that would lose representation if divided into separate districts. The District Commission’s plan will be submitted to the City Council and approved without modification. The District Commission will start its work in August 2019 and complete it by November 2020. Full implementation of district elections of all 5 districts will be in November 2021.
For more information read this research summary by the National Association of Cities. The summary states, “Mixed systems which provide more district seats than at-large seats are more likely to stand Constitutional scrutiny.” The Everett Districts Now plan has 5 at-large or citywide seats and will therefore be more likely to withstand legal scrutiny.
5 of our 7 council members live north of 41st Street, while the majority of our city residents live south of 41st Street. This is not fair and equitable representation. Historically that has been the case, and it results in many neighborhoods having no direct voice in local government.
Will District Elections Cost More Money?
According to the Snohomish County Auditor there is no increased cost for district based ballots. Districts do not result in any additional staff or new councilmembers. The only cost associated with districts is the occasional creation of district commissions for setting district boundaries to balance populations between districts in accordance with state law, which will be at least every 10 years.
Why Five Districts Instead of Four?
Five districts means that even if both at-large council members lived in the same district they would not control a majority of council votes. Under a four district model three at large council members living in the same district would, combined with the district council member, control the council by a majority. Five districts provides better representation and prevents any district from having a majority of votes.
Who Supports Having Five Districts?
You and your Everett neighbors! A survey by the City of Everett indicated that 80% of those responding wanted Everett to elect council members by district, and 74% of those responding wanted Everett to have five or more districts! Five districts is also supported by Councilmembers Brenda Stonecipher and Judy Tuohy, the League of Women Voters, 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. See the full list on our endorsements page!
City of Everett Survey Indicates Overwhelming Support for Council Districts
Priorities identified by Everett residents match community effort for 5 districts and 2 at-large
Currently, all council members are elected at-large, as a result, 5 out of 7 live in the northern part of the city. Districts would ensure fair and equal representation across the entire city. A city government that comes from the people will better serve all people.