The Herald of Everett, Washington
Customer service  |  Subscribe   |   Log in or sign up   |   Advertising information   |   Contact us
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus The Daily Herald on Linked In HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions

Herald Special Report

Big Issues|Agenda 2016

January 3, 2016
Big Issues | Agenda 2016
Kevin Clark / The Herald
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers is sworn in on Dec. 23, 2015.

• It's a new year, and another new executive is settling into office in Snohomish County. Whether the arrival of Dave Somers ushers in an era of political stability, regional leadership and statewide influence for Snohomish County is one of the most intriguing questions for 2016.

• With its 100th birthday only seven months away, the Boeing Co. is coming off a big year in which it delivered more than 700 commercial airplanes, among other accomplishments. Boeing's centennial year can be as successful as 2015 if the aerospace giant can dodge labor strife, continue cutting costs, get a new military airplane through testing, smoothly increase 737 production and be ready to start assembling 777X jetliners. And in any case, Boeing's fortunes can cast sunshine or shadows on Snohomish County's economy.

• Traffic congestion will fuel another year of debate on how to get people to their destinations faster, if not more predictably. This year's biggest scrap in Snohomish County is likely to be over a new Sound Transit ballot measure that would fund light rail extension to Everett.

• And community leaders face another challenging year caring for men and women falling through cracks in the social safety net and onto the streets across Snohomish County. They have plans to address the problem, but 2016 will be a year to figure out which approaches pay the best dividends.

These are the four big issues for 2016 as foreseen by the news staff of The Daily Herald. The stories on this page examine each in depth.

County faces stormy seas with new executive at the helm

1. Governance

Dave Somers is the third executive in four years for Washington's third-most-populous county, now topping 750,000 people. He inherits a political body suffering from a series of self-inflicted wounds — some of which Somers helped deliver during in his tenure as a County Council member.

County's fiscal well-being soars or slumps with Boeing

2. Economy

Boeing, which came to Everett in 1967, is the engine of a Snohomish County economy that sustained one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state throughout 2015. Civic and private sector leaders say they see sunny days ahead. But there are some clouds on the horizon.

Light rail, congestion top list of transportation challenges

3. Transportation

Light rail won't be the only battleground for transportation this year. Those four-month-old express toll lanes on I-405 will attract much scrutiny in 2016. Meanwhile, drivers throughout 2016 will endure bouts of congestion in the name of progress as construction projects get under way.

Cities work to help mentally ill, addicts who live on the streets

4. Homelessness

There's steady pressure from neighborhoods and business owners throughout Snohomish County to do something about homelessness because of crime and public safety hazards. The county and cities should get an idea this year if pilot programs are working.