Anderson faces Tuohy in council election
EVERETT — Rich Anderson was praised for his financial background when he was appointed to City Council in November.
Now, the Certified Public Accountant will need to win the support of voters to keep his seat on the council.
Running against him is Judy Tuohy, the executive director of the Schack Art Center.
Both candidates were born and raised in Everett — they were classmates from Everett High School’s 1972 graduating class.
They also ran against each other in last November’s appointment process to replace a vacancy opened by former Councilman Shannon Affholter. Anderson and Tuohy were the finalists against 10 others, and Anderson got the nod in a 4-2 selection.
The City Council, both say, is a place where they can give back to the community and help the city grow.
They both have a native’s understanding of Everett’s culture, needs and direction. However, they each have a unique take on how to best accomplish these goals.
With Everett’s budget in a state of crisis, the city proposed several ways to deal with the growing deficit. Earlier this month, the city chose to pursue raising utility taxes as a way of raising revenues while the city looks closely at major departments to determine how best to make cuts.
Anderson was one of four council members to vote yes on the utility tax hikes.
“The utility tax is a tax that most other jurisdictions have previously increased, but Everett has not,” Anderson said. “To me it’s not an egregious increase. It’s fair and I think it’s appropriate.”
Tuohy spoke out against the tax before the vote. Specifically, she believed that the new garbage and cable taxes should not automatically increase in 2016 and 2017, stating that the increase should be evaluated separately, as they may not be necessary if budget cuts could remove the need for an increase.
“I agree with the things that they are doing, but I would want to do them in a different order,” Tuohy said.
Tuohy also disagrees with the structure of the new business license renewal fee that was implemented.
The city will require a $75 business license renewal fee next year.
“I think our small business folks are very vulnerable,” Tuohy said. “I would have worked to have a broader tier system on fees, as the renewal fee is new to us.”
Although the renewal fee is new, Anderson said he thinks $75 per year is reasonable for most businesses.
“Many locales have that level of fee or greater,” Anderson said. The city’s prior “‘$10 fee for the life of the business’ is unreasonable,” he said.
With the city deficit projected to grow to $19 million by 2018 without corrective action, Anderson said it was important to bring in revenues. Cuts to the budget alone would not close the gap.
“(Tuohy) did not favor a utility tax, she did not favor the new business license fees, but she did not offer anything as an alternative,” Anderson said.
Tuohy said there may have been places that the city could have begun looking into last year to raise revenues, such as finding out what surplus property would be worth and determining if selling them would be a good source of revenue for the city.
With Anderson’s background as an accountant, he said he brings a unique set of skills to council that are useful in a time of economic crisis.
“We have to be rational and think things through in the long term rather than make short-term decisions,” he said. “I think I am well suited to do that.”
While managing the Schack Art Center, Tuohy has seen the organization’s budget grow from around $180,000 to over $1 million.
“I analyze the expenses of every program and service that we offer and look at every possible way of revenue, so I have that experience,” Tuohy said. “It’s not as large of a budget as the city has, but that is how I operate.”
Anderson has been an accountant for 38 years. Tuohy has been the executive director of the Schack Art Center for 19 years.
During public input meetings to discuss the budget deficit, many citizens attended and spoke in support of parks.
Naturally, both candidates see parks as an important aspect to the quality of life in Everett and would like to see Everett’s parks system grow.
“I am concerned for how we can take care of and add to our parks system,” Anderson said. “I support the arts community. I support parks but the funding for those is a challenge.”
“My passion is economic development,” Tuohy said. “I would love to see a much larger investment in parks and libraries.”
Tuohy also has a clear appreciation for the arts.
“We preserve our heritage through the arts and it would be great to do more of that,” she said.
Creating a high quality of life for people living in Everett is a goal of any member of civil service. Anderson believes economic development would be one key way of keeping standards high in Everett.
“Quality of life starts with a job,” Anderson said. “We need to continue to recruit and retain employers in Everett.”
He said he believes this is only possible with a partnership between the private and public sectors.
Tuohy is excited to see new projects develop in Everett, such as the Waterfront Place project at the Port of Everett and wants to help the council get the city back on track to focus on these things.
“Bringing people together with a common vision, that has been my inspiration,” Tuohy said. “I have a track record of getting things done. Once I see that there’s a vision out there, I will work very hard for it.”
Donors have donated nearly $35,000 to this race so far – as of last week, Anderson has raised $22,000 while Tuohy has raised $12,000. Anderson has received $100 donations from Mayor Ray Stephanson and Councilmen Scott Bader and Scott Murphy.
Tuohy picked up a $500 donation from Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher. Stonecipher has previously said that she would not like to see a woman win a race just because she is female, but would appreciate a more diverse council.
Anderson has also received a $950 donation from the Everett Firefighters union.
Past and present charitable work
Anderson says he wants Everett to be the kind of place that his kids want to continue to live and raise their families. Two of his three children, all over 30 years old, live in Everett.
Tuohy moved back to Everett from Snohomish in 2007 and says this is where she wants to retire.
Previously, Anderson has served as a board member for United Way of Snohomish County and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Snohomish County, among other civic positions.
Tuohy has been a board member for the Snohomish County Tourism Board and a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, among other positions.