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Grassroots Group In Everett Wants To Change City Council Election Process

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A grassroots group in Everett is launching its latest effort to create districts for the city council.

The Everett City Council is currently made up of seven seats, and each of them is an at-large position. But a group called Everett Districts Now wants to see five geographic districts with only two at-large seats.

Everett Districts Now chair Megan Dunn says other cities in the state, including Bellingham, Yakima and Seattle, have districts for their council seats that are working. Dunn explains that modifying the way council members are elected in Everett will ensure the city is represented in an equitable way.

“Right now, we have a disproportionate number of city council members, and the mayor, who live in the northern part of the city," she said. "There are sections of the city that are unrepresented.”

 

Dunn points to the area around the airport. She also explains as the city grows over the next several years, it will be important to have representation.

 

“Everett’s expected to gain another 20 percent in population, I believe, by 2040. So, having five districts and keeping two at-large will allow for the growth, especially to the southern part,” Dunn said.

 

Meanwhile, the city council is moving forward with its own plan to put a measure creating districts on the fall ballot. Dunn says that’s a problem.

 

“We feel strongly that city council members should not decide what a map looks like. They could draw the boundaries to benefit themselves or their friends,” she said.

 

This is the group’s second attempt to gather signatures to get their initiative on the November ballot after missing the mark last year.

The number of signatures required is based on voter turnout from the previous year's election. In 2017 the group needed 10,000 to make it onto the ballot. This year, the petition only requires 3,500 signatures, and they have until July 1 to get them.

 

If they are able to get enough, and voters say yes, there will be district elections in Everett by 2021.

 

Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.