Excerpts from The Herald Editorial Board, July 28
Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, leading Snohomish County’s largest city since November 2003, will leave office in January as its longest serving mayor.
Everett’s next mayor will lead a city approaching a population of 110,000 residents with challenges in funding public safety and other government services under a constrained budget. At the same time it must address problems of addiction, homelessness and housing affordability, but also is presented with opportunities for economic development and community revitalization.
In the editorial board’s opinion, Councilmember Cassie Franklin presents the best balance of continuity, experience, fair-mindedness and fresh perspective and deserves the support of voters in Tuesday’s primary contest and again in the Nov. 7 general election.
Cassie Franklin, profiled in the July 20 Herald, stands out.
Admittedly, her election to mayor would represent a rapid ascension to city leadership. She was elected to office in 2015, handily defeating long-time Councilmember Ron Gipson with 65 percent of the vote. But her time on the council is preceded by her service as one of the members of the city’s Community Streets Initiative, launched by Stephanson in 2014, to outline city and community responses to homelessness, addiction, mental illness and related issues.
Franklin was a natural fit and a valuable participant because of her background with Cocoon House, which provides shelter and other services for homeless and at-risk youths. Franklin was first hired to the social service agency in 2005, left in 2009, but was rehired as its chief executive officer in 2011.
When she returned to Cocoon, the agency was struggling financially. She has since turned its finances around. A measure of its success can be found at Charity Navigator, which rates charities nationally based on their transparency and financial performance. Cocoon House currently has a combined score of 91.3 on a scale of 1 to 100, averaging a score of 87.7 for its financial performance and 100 for its accountability and transparency.
Everett has a range of issues to address during the new mayor’s first term. It must fill a number of vacancies at its police department and is facing morale and contract issues within the fire department. It needs to build public confidence in how the city’s diverse neighborhoods are represented and encourage greater public participation. It needs to encourage growth yet address the impacts that result. And it must develop a deeper and more varied supply of housing that is affordable to all who want to live here, particularly those who already work in Everett.
But the primary responsibility for the next mayor will be to continue and build on the work that has begun to confront the issues of homelessness and addiction — especially opioids.
Because of her background and her success regarding that fight, Franklin is best equipped to serve the city as mayor.