From The Herald Editorial Board
Everett residents can expect some new faces on the tour next year; Of the five city council elections on November 2, at least three new council members will never have been in office.
There is at least one familiar face, however, that voters should easily return to office: Everett’s Mayor Cassie Franklin.
Franklin, who is seeking a four-year second term after four years on the city council, has shown her skill, responsiveness, and leadership in tackling the challenges she knew faced four years ago and one as mayor Pandemic that nobody expected.
Your performance in this first term is your own confirmation.
Franklin is challenged on the ballot by Steve Oss, who has been with Everett Transit for nearly 25 years and served as union president for 16 years. A lifelong Everett resident and military veteran, Oss previously owned a small business and was named Volunteer of the Year by Everett Volunteers of America in 2019.
Oss responded to the editorial team’s request to take part in a joint interview, but did not take part in the planned online meeting.
In addition to her tenure on the council and as mayor, Franklin has served prominently in the city’s nonprofit sector as the executive director of Cocoon House, which provides shelter and support services to the homeless and vulnerable youth. Franklin first hired the Social Services Agency in 2005, left in 2009, and was reinstated as Chief Executive Officer in 2011. Franklin helped rebuild a financially troubled agency and ran Cocoon House until she took up her job as mayor.
Franklin wasn’t the only local officer challenged by the pandemic, of course, but she was one of the first to act and, in March 2020, issued a “stay home, home” policy in the city where the first recorded Covid case occurred. stay healthy ”imposed -19. The city’s policy, like the statewide policy that followed days later, met with mixed support but can be attributed to limiting the spread of the disease in the earliest days of the pandemic.
The pandemic – and the city’s response to public health and its economic impact – has drawn a great deal of attention from Franklin, city council and other city officials over the past 19 months, resulting in city workers working remotely and the protective equipment necessary for the public safety of the city and a coordinated response with state and county public health authorities and other agencies. While the pandemic continued, Franklin oversaw the city’s efforts to serve the city’s businesses and nonprofits, including distributing federal aid and business reopening guides.
In the two years leading up to and during the pandemic, the city has made progress on many of the priorities Franklin announced when he took office, including working to tackle homelessness, affordable housing, public safety, equality and diversity as well a persistent structural budget deficit that the city faced prior to its election.
Everett, like other communities in the county and state, is not yet close to eradicating homelessness, but it has begun deploying resources and successful strategies, including social workers embedded in police patrols, rerouting programs, and pallet housing that are affordable and flexible Short term shelter that enables the homeless to begin the journey towards permanent solutions.
This multi-faceted approach works, Franklin said in an interview. “We just need more of it.”
Regarding the general availability of housing, Franklin said she had worked to convince the council and residents alike of the need for greater efforts to encourage more construction and increase density in the city. By securing a larger housing stock in Everett, the affordability goal is achieved by allowing city workers, teachers, hospital staff, and other professionals to live in the city where they work.
However, the biggest challenge of the past four years and her next term remains how the city balances its services against available taxes and other revenues. Everett is one of the few towns in Snohomish County that offers extensive agencies and programs, including its own transportation system, two libraries, a senior citizen center, an animal shelter, and fire and police departments. At the same time, the city’s median household income is the lowest of the county’s major cities.
Franklin has made efforts to cut cuts that have reduced non-essential services and programs – and even services that some consider essential – that the city could no longer afford under existing revenues. And the pandemic has forced even deeper cuts than perhaps planned. But she has worked to ensure that programs can be transferred to new partners and not simply abolished, especially the eventual handover of management of the Carl Gibson Senior Center to the Volunteers of America.
What remains for the next year are efforts with the council to consider motions in front of voters, consider moving the city’s fire department to a regional fire department, and considering lifting the cap on the city’s share of property tax.
The final decision rests with the voters, Franklin said, but city dwellers have to decide what services the city should provide and what taxes they are willing to pay.
Franklin had to make unpopular – but necessary – decisions in her four years as mayor to prepare and move Everett forward. The voters should reward this vision and courage with a second term.