City of Everett charges ‘event fee’ for mayor’s annual State of the City address

Everett Mall will be the setting for a significant event Thursday as Mayor Cassie Franklin presents her annual State of the City address.

However, there's a twist: businesses, community leaders and members of the community were invited to this exclusive gathering for a fee. Tickets were sold for $25 to $35 on Eventbrite, granting attendees access to Franklin's vision for the future of the city of Everett.

mayor cassie franklin eventbrite invite

The Eventbrite invitation inviting business and community leaders from around the region to Mayor Cassie Franklin's State of the City 2024 address. 

Alongside the mayor's address, guests will have the opportunity to hear remarks from Economic Alliance Snohomish County, The Boeing Company and Mortenson Construction, and will have access to "networking" opportunities, the invite wrote.

The official Eventbrite invitation also said, "The State of the City, presented by The Boeing Company and Mortenson, along with partners Alaska Airlines, North Sound Media, Port of Everett and LISC Puget Sound, promises an evening of celebration and insight."

The invitation noted that it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Everett Mall and will showcase its ongoing revitalization efforts at the address.

The 2.5-hour affair will feature upscale mall fare, a no-host bar serving Washington wines and craft beer, music by the Everett Music Initiative, and raffle prizes, including a pair of roundtrip tickets courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

For those unable to attend in person, Simone Tarver, a spokesperson for the mayor's office, confirmed to FOX 13 Seattle that "streaming options will be available on the city of Everett's website." Additionally, a condensed version of Franklin's speech will be delivered at neighborhood meetings and other community gatherings in the upcoming weeks.

One intriguing legal question surrounds this event: What rights does a government have when it's speaking for itself? This inquiry underscores the intersection of government communication and public interest in transparent, accountable governance.

"This type of address has a lot of symbolic importance," said Erin Carr, an assistant professor at Seattle University School of Law. "Some Everett residents most affected by what’s being discussed at this address are not going to be in that room, whereas corporations will."

Carr points out anyone can stream the speech for free online. For that reason, this decision does not appear to violate Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act.

"There seems to be some murkiness there, that may be being used, that justifies the financial attendance requirements most constituents are probably going to be displeased about," said Carr.

Simone Tarver, spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office provided additional details. Clarifying the event is hosted by the local chamber of commerce, Economic Alliance. This isn’t the first time the organization hosted a speech on the city’s behalf and required an entry fee.

"The event is hosted by our chamber of commerce, Economic Alliance, which is a common practice," said Tarver. "They are collecting the ticket price, and any profits are retained by them, reinvested into economic development efforts for our community. This includes supporting small businesses, recruiting new industries, and more."

Franklin assumed office in Jan. 2018 as Everett's first elected female mayor. Throughout her tenure, she has prioritized violence prevention, behavioral health, and economic prosperity for the city. Franklin is dedicated to ensuring Everett's financial stability, supporting local businesses, and promoting open, transparent government.

This State of the City event promises an enlightening and celebratory evening, offering a glimpse into Everett's past, present, and future under Franklin's leadership, but why a ticket fee was required to attend remains to be the question.

This is a developing story. We will continue to update it when more information becomes available.


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