Publisher’s note: The Edmonds City Council will begin interviewing candidates for the vacant council seat at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 in the council chambers. The interview schedule can be found here. The successor will be chosen at the next regular council meeting, Jan. 19.
This is an open letter to the Edmonds City Council. Soon the Council will deliberate to fill Peggy Pritchard Olson’s seat on the Council. I’d like to offer a few opinions.
The goals of the Council should comprise at least the following: (1) increase and diversify Edmonds’ tax base, (2) keep Edmonds a great and affordable place for young families, the elderly, and everyone in the middle, to live and thrive, (3) consider all of the neighborhoods of Edmonds, not just the Bowl, as important components of our plans for the future, and (4) avoid drawing absolute lines in the sand with a “you’re either with us, or against us” mindset.
We need a new Councilperson who already walks the walk; someone who has been proven in their ability to move Edmonds forward towards these goals.Â I also believe that the appointed Councilperson must be interested in, and capable of, running for the position in 2011. Campaigns are tough – and so the candidate must be tough.
Before going on about the prospective Councilpersons, it is informative to review the talent set of the current Council: a lawyer and a downtown merchant with strong environmental credentials, a realtor and an engineer with deep ties in the downtown area, a retired civil servant new to the Council who also has strong ties to the downtown area, and a public affairs consultant with connections across the nation and broad experience across the region. We are fortunate to have such a group. I see this selection process as an opportunity to add even more talent to this group; talent that would benefit all of Edmonds.
In the last 24 hours, I have had the pleasure of talking with three individuals who have applied for the position: Kerry Ayers, Diane Buckshnis and Michael Young. I will discuss each in turn.
Kerry Ayers is the founder of the Edmonds Community Foundation. Her group runs multi-generational programs and provides education, food, and clothing to the less fortunate in Edmonds. Because of Ayers’ hard work, local churches are now allowed, under Edmonds code, to open their doors to the homeless. I believe Ayers would bring a unique perspective to the Council. She understands the real dynamics of Edmonds. She understands that downtown is important, but that Edmonds is more than the Bowl. Ayers has a can-do attitude and knows how to find solutions; not just problems. She also knows how to build consensus. I believe Ayers would work as hard on the Council as she has worked on any of her endeavors. However, I am worried that the campaign trail may be a bit of a shock to her.
Diane Buskshnis worked to establish the Edmonds Dog Park and is on the board of the Edmonds Arts Foundation. Buckshnis wants to bring transparency to Edmonds’ finances and believes that we should market ourselves to bring tourists and others into town. She indicated that she understands Edmonds is not just the Bowl but that building heights are an important issue to her. And, we know she knows how to run a clean campaign. I believe Buckshnis is sincere in her desire to help our community.
However, I am concerned that Buckshnis’ major supporters are a group of people that are only concerned with the Bowl area and building heights. They are a “you’re either with us or against us” group. Finally, it has been my experience on the campaign trail that these are also the people who do not care to look for solutions – only problems. In our conversation, Buckshnis very sincerely indicated that she is not beholden to these folks.
Michael Young is a downtown merchant. He gives his time to the ECA and sits on the Board of the Edmonds Community College Culinary Program. I believe Young is a smart businessman interested in helping his community. I think Young would add an interesting perspective to the Council. He has a feel for marketing and business development; something our Council needs. Young is a lifelong friend of Councilman Peterson and has been active in Peterson’s campaigns and other campaigns. Therefore, we know he is not a novice to the campaign trail. However, I am concerned that with the appointment of Young, the Bowl and the wealthier side of Edmonds would be overrepresented on the Council. Additionally, at this point, I am not convinced that Young understands the challenges that other people and neighborhoods in Edmonds face.
All three of the prospective candidates with whom I spoke are outstanding, and we are lucky to have such an array of talent from which to choose. Kerry Ayers would bring to the Council what it most needs: a team player without any political strings, a proven genuine concern for all of Edmonds, and the energy to tackle the hardest problems with real and working solutions. If I had a vote, I’d vote for Kerry Ayers.
Priya Sinha Cloutier