Citing city’s need for ‘better leadership,’ Dave Earling announces he will run for Edmonds mayor

Dave Earling

Stating that “our community can do better in City Hall,” former Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Earling Monday announced his candidacy for Mayor of Edmonds. Earling is the first candidate to announce for the job now held by incumbent Mayor Mike Cooper, who was appointed to the position last summer after Gary Haakenson resigned to become Deputy Snohomish County Executive.

“I’m running to be the next Mayor of Edmonds because I love this community,” Earling said. “We who live in Edmonds treasure life here, but it’s clear City Hall needs more leadership to keep us on the path we need.”

Earling, who resigned from his full-time position on the Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board to run for office, said he made his decision to run based on “the outpouring of support and encouragement I’ve received in the last several weeks as I’ve heard from concerned citizens about problems in city government.”

Citizens “want to see the City make better choices about spending and put the budget back on a sustainable path,” Earling said in a statement released early Monday morning. “The Council’s recent wavering and indecision about a levy to pay for basic operating expenses is just one example why Edmonds needs leadership again.”

Earling just finished five years of service on the Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board, after being appointed by Governor Gregoire, and resigning from that position “was not an easy decision,” he said.

Currently president of Senior Services of Snohomish County, Earling spent 12 years on the Edmonds City Council, including five years as president, and also served as chairman or President of Sound Transit, Community Transit, the Cascade Symphony, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, and the Edmonds School District Public Education Fund. He has also been a board member for the Edmonds Center for the Arts and the Washington Conservation Voters.  He previously owned and operated a small residential real estate company in Edmonds.  A 30-year resident, he lives near Perrinville with his wife, with whom he has three children and two grandchildren.

“This community means a lot to me,” Earling said. “I raised my family here and have been proud to call it home for over 30 years.  I’m humbled by the encouragement – both solicited and unsolicited – I’ve received as this topic has come up in conversations around town. I’m looking forward to a vigorous campaign and hearing more from the citizens of Edmonds.”


  1. Finally we’ll have the opportunity to support someone that has Edmonds as their primary focus.

  2. Perfect..someone who brings experience and professionalism, will work with all, puts the city of Edmonds first, believes in transparency, is honest and straightforward, and will make tough decisions..this is the perfect fit for this town at this time..

  3. I’m optimistic that come November we will have a new Mayor who will attend to the interests of all 40,000 of us rather than just a relatively small special interest group.

  4. Dave earlimg is a fine gentleman who has served well in public servixce and often with distinction.

    What he fails to mention is his building heights baggage. He has stated that Edmonds citizens need to “compromise” with the builders/developers. And he has also praised Kirkland’s development of its downtown with its taller view blocking buildings. We’ve had a nice spell without the perrenial buildimg heights issue; why bring that back?

    His criticism of our Council is just plain wrong. The Council is working its way steadily, albeit slowly, towards financial recovery after 10 years of a “strong” activist Mayor. We don’t need another one trying to shove more things down our throat with additional wastreful spending.

    And is Mr. Earling’s health up to the strain of office? He stated that he had only a self described heart “event” about the time he left the Council, whatever that is.

    I’ll be voting for Mike Cooper. He is doing well, and seems to have a good feel for the slow steady progress that we need a mayor to be doing.

  5. if we dont do something with the properties we have some say in, we might need a new levy every year to pay Deadmonds, I have been here 25 years and its time to move forward and develop so we can get aaa tenants downtown, why should I have to go to Kirkland to enjoy the beautiful job they have done around their waterfront? as a city we cant afford to wait any longer, compromise and raise the heights so Edmonds can survive and in the future our city thru smart development will encourage the folks in Kirkland to spend some of their money in Edmonds, my vote and many others will be for someone ready to not just serve the few with the view but us who want to enjoy nightlife right here in Edmonds.

  6. The issue of building heights seems to bring out the extremists.

    I hate certain tall buildings as much as anyone. In my opinion, the 5 story monstrosity next to the Senior Center is a blight on the waterfront. Edmonds was wise to stop the development of more like it. I also think if downtown had more buildings like the ones at the SE and NE corners of 5th & Walnut, it would feel like a canyon. And those last 2 buildings conform to the current height requirements.

    But take a look at the new concept for Harbor Square. It has been designed with great sensitivity to existing views, and it creates inviting pedestrian spaces. It doesn’t conform to existing height requirements. If it is necessary to ease the height requirements to bring in that kind of development, I’d be all for it. It would bring a lot of new money into the city and help keep property taxes from rising.

    I’m opposed to both kinds of extremists: those who say no taller buildings anywhere, and those who say let’s just let developers do what they want.

  7. Since this all started as a news story about a new candidate for mayor, let’s rember that the mayor does not get to decide anything about building heights – that’s the responsibility of the city council.

  8. Ron, that’s not quite true. The mayor has veto power, and it takes a supermajority (5-2) to override it. If only 4 councilmembers were in favor of relaxing height requirements for a project, the Mayor’s veto could kill it.

  9. Joe:

    Perhaps I’m dense this Monday morning, but if 4 members vote to raise building heights it’s not likely that 2 of them will then side with the mayor to reverse their vote.

  10. Ray Martin, you’re @ your ‘best’ (worst) once again in tossing out the ‘health issue.’ I thought about asking you to refrain from such comments, but you can’t help yourself. So please do us all a courtesy and stick to real questions/issues. Thanks

  11. Ron, you made me realize I wasn’t certain about vetoing an ordinance. It took some digging, but RCW 35A.12.130 states that the mayor can veto an ordinance. As happened with the recent budget, the mayor is not required to sign an ordinance, but refusing to sign it is just a symbolic gesture.

  12. Pardon me Mr. Underhill, I do not recall “Tossing out” the health issue ever. I was merely expressing my right to comment on the fitness for public office of a candidate, in this case, Mr. Earling, who I would guess would be your favored candidate.

    So, instead of trying to insult and put down those who disagree with you why don’t you instead speak for your candidate, as he has several very good qualiities..

  13. Wow! That did not take long. Dave Earling announces he is running for mayor and an hour later the building heights issue springs up! Nice job ‘defining’ the issue, Ray.

  14. Mr. Fleck,

    The building height issue has been, unfortunately, the most persistent issue in the 42 years in which I have lived in our fair city. There has been a few periods of quiet, including the past few months. And Dave Earling’s past history IS an issue that should be “defined”, though you would like it unmentioned apparently.

    When heights are the issue, the voters have usually voted for the current heights candidate. Often, candidates, including Dave Earling, will avoid the issue during the campaigns, only to push in that direction after being safely elected.

    I believe people appreciate knowing the candidatre’s propensity before the election, instead of discovering it afterwards. And it most certainly “defines” candidates in Edmonds.

    Thank you for emphasizing it.

  15. I thought transparency was the biggest (tallest?) issue along with indecisions, labor negotiations/concessions, levy to be or not to be,road infrastructure, vision..I also thought ACE left town? Anyway I am excited for what is about to unfold..

  16. Michael,

    Currently the building heights issue is dormant, and it would be wonderful if it continues to be so. All the things you mention are important to maintaining good goverment in Edmonds. Probably the levy is the big deal right now. Do we need one, or not, and for how much? Indecision is certainly preferable to making a hasty mistake. I trust our Mayor, Council, and employees to continue to work together for the benefit of the citizens rather than the city’s various and pushy special interest groups.

  17. Ace left because of a building issue, they wanted to be very clear that they were supported very well be the people of Edmonds,many of us would agree with most of the other post’s, Mayor Cooper was left a mess and whom ever is the next Mayor wont be left a much better situation, I think what we need to focus on is who we elect into council, it has been their short sightedness that killing the city, We need to be proactive and the people of Edmonds need to get off their rears and VOTE or we are going to end up with a broke,old town that nobody can afford to live in because the taxes are to much and no business can survive as everyone in bed by 8:00pm, will the last person out shut off the juke box remember no music after 10:45. Talk about BS.

  18. Ray, If a group of people want to change the height limit in any part of town are they a pushy special interest group. What if a group of people want a levy to pay for street overlays, are they a pushy special interest group. What if a group of people would like to develop a Strategic Plan for Edmonds, are they a pushy special interest group? 6 out of 7 Council members voted to develop a Strategic Plan. Which side represents a pushy special interest group?

    To all of us not just Ray… What ever we decide to talk about when it comes to an issue for the candidates I hope we try to first listen to what each has to say about an issue and then figure out from there who would do the best job of leading Edmonds. We are at an interesting point in the live our out town. The wish list of capital projects is greater than $100m and we do not have the money today to even fix the streets. What we may need in this campaign is some adult discussion of the issues see where that takes the candidates and voters in the fall. I for one will be listening to each candidate, trying to separate the sound bites from the facts and then deciding how to cast my vote. Thanks to Mr. Cooper and Mr.Earling for entering the race and I am sure both will do a good job of articulating their views. It will be up to the voters to make the final decision so lets get going on the discussions.

  19. Ray, Why bring all the negative things that you can think of to the discussion. That just illistraites the old and not the young vibrante ideas out there to solve the problems of the city. Maybe it is time to step aside if you dont want to listen and appreciate the new ideas. Besides you dont even know what Mr Earling is going to be advocating to solve Edmonds problems.

  20. Well boys now that you’ve had your fun poking at each other lets get down to the real business of the city.

    I’m interested in seeing our city council work together in a timely manner so more time is spent on the real issues facing our city such as creating a balanced budget instead going to the people to bail them out. How’s our economic development coming along? Look around, there are many vacancies in our downtown core, why isn’t the council looking for ways to work with the owners of these buildings to fill these spaces.

    Quite whining about building heights, there are many more pressing issues to be concerned about.

    Let’s move ahead to 2011 and elect a Mayor who has the foresight, knowledge and experience to bring us into the 21st century. Dave Earling is not afraid to roll up his shirt sleeves and step into the trenches to do what is right for ALL not for a few select. Dave Earling gets my vote of confidence.

    PS If you want to talk about how long you’ve lived in Edmonds hands down I win, I’m third generation Edmonds! My grandparents came here in 1926.

  21. Darrol:
    My response to your quiz: 1st sentence-height limit-yes, 2nd sentence -no, a levy is an all voter deal. 3rd sentence-strategic plan- yes or no depending on the group and their agenda, and a willingness to share with all. Council members, no as they have the whole community in mind. Hope that gives you a better idea on a local definition of a special interst group. “Special” is the key word limiting the benefits of an effort to special interest group members and their goals.

    Please list what you perceive as the “all the negative things” so I can better understand what you are trying to say.

  22. Ron B.:

    I have just read the state audit report for 2002. I could find no reference to the $20 million discrepancy that you have mentioned in #25 above. Would you please copy and paste the reference to this site. Thanks.

  23. The state auditors letters noted above by Teresa are very revealing. I recall citizens were fed the baloney annually that the city had passed the audit with glowing success or other such malarkey. And we also told about all the awards our numerous budget directors were receiving!

    I should like to hear some Haakenson and Earling supporters speak up in their defense of those unsatisfactory reports.

    We simply do not need to risk the chance of going back to that kind of sloppy leadership. The several individuals who spoke out and were constantly pooh poohed were actuallyright on track. Outstanding point Ron B; thank you for making a major point. Vote for Cooper!

    I recently asked Deanna Dawson her opinion of Cooper. She responded “He’s a good egg” which is among her higher compliments. Further I believe he is a straight shooter and should have the opportunity to take part in the repair of our city’s finances.

  24. Ray, thanks for your definations of special interest groups. I was not aware that Haakenson was running for office. So I am guessing that the “Haakenson and Earling supporters” you have lumped together are one of your defined special interest groups? So to be fair to Cooper and Earling are you going to do a poll of all past council members so see if we can get a dozen of good egg comments?

  25. H. and E, I do lump together as the past, and which did not leave us in very good shape financially. Perhaps we should consider giving the new group, including the winners of this year’s election, an opportunity to show their stuff. We might find ourselves pleasantly surprised. Lets move on past the waste laiden practices of our recent past.

  26. I look forward to a vigorous, and clean, campaign for the Mayor’s office. Looks like we have two strong candidates, both of whom come with an impressive list of relevant experience and accomplishments. I propose we refrain from putting position statements in their mouths, and instead bring our questions to them to answer. So far, they deserve that courtesy.

    I fear, however, for the City Council. There are three positions up for election, and only two challengers. This means one incumbent will have no challenger, and there will not be a Primary contest for any position, which reduces the level of debate. I fear that sitting Council members may take this as a tacit endorsement of their efforts to date. Given that the City Council, by design, actually controls the course of events in the City, this should be alarming.

  27. I’m sure you know this, Todd, but for clarity I’ll point out that 3 councilmembers are up for reelection, but there will be 4 (of 7) positions on the ballot because Mr. Bernheim is not running. Mr. Yamamoto has no challenger yet for that position.

  28. I hadn’t forgotten Paul Anderson, but I did forget that he announced he is running for position 6. I appreciate the reminder. As of this morning the PDC database shows that 3 Edmonds City Council candidates have not yet formally declared which position they are running for:
    Paul Anderson
    Frank Yamamoto
    DJ Wilson
    So technically, nobody has filed for position 5. Mr. Wilson could decide to run against Lora Petso or Diane Buckshnis.

  29. June 10 is the filing deadline for candidates. No filing for Dave Earling yet – I just checked.

    I didn’t intend to fuel speculation about Mr. Wilson. I have no knowledge of his intentions. Since this article is about the election for Mayor, I think we’re drifting off topic, so I’ll try to avoid further comments about the Council.

  30. To answer your question, candidates have two weeks to file after announcing. Since Dave Earling announced only two days ago, he still has plenty of time.

  31. No corrections from me earlier, because I started my day at the health club. Only Bernheim and Wilson are up for re-election; Buckshnis and Petso were not elected – they were appointed.

  32. I strongly agree with Todd cloutier’s assessment. We need competition for all Council seats, especially the most vulnerable one of all, DJ Wilson..

  33. In the spirit of good democracy, I am glad that Dave Earling is entering the race. It is great to have two experienced candidates. Dave was an excellent Councilmember. As a staff member at the City, I always felt Dave was trying to do what he felt was the right thing. He also commands respect which is certainly a good quality for our City Excecutive. I hope all the Council positions are challenged as well. Everyone who runs for office should be congratulated and anyone who is interested should be encouraged. Running for political office is always a tough and challenging experience. I also hope that this will be a more positive election process than the election two years ago.


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