Yamamoto kicks off council campaign with support of Edmonds business community

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Frank Yamamoto makes his first campaign speech. (Photos by Amber Salinas Photography)
City Council President Strom Peterson talks about Yamamoto's community contributions.
Edmonds Chamber of Commerce President Ron Clyborne introduces Yamamoto.

Downtown Edmonds business owners came out in full force Tuesday night to support one of their own  — Frank Yamamoto — as he officially launched his campaign for Edmonds City Council.

The former president of the Downtown Edmonds Merchant Association, Yamamoto is also on the board of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Edmonds Community College Business Advisory Board. This is his first run for public office.

Among those speaking on Yamamoto’s behalf during the gathering at Arista Wine Cellars were Edmonds City Council President Strom Peterson, owner of the Resident Cheesemonger located just up the street from Yamamoto’s Running in Motion store on Main Street, and Edmonds Realtor and Chamber of Commerce President Ron Clyborne.

Peterson noted that Yamamoto “jumped in right away and got involved with the (Downtown) Merchants Association” after he moved to Edmonds several years ago started his business. He also currently chairs the 17-member Citizens Economic Development Commission — no easy task given the diverse nature of the commission’s membership, Peterson added.

“Frank was able to work with all of these different voices coming in, get them focused and concentrate on things they agreed on,” Peterson said.

“I know that Frank will make an excellent council member,” Peterson added. “He’s not coming in with an agenda where it’s his way or no way. He’s coming in thinking about the city, he’s coming in thinking about the community. Frank is one of those people who can really get people to work together.”

Yamamoto is currently running unopposed for position 6, which is being vacated by current Councilmember Steve Bernheim, who isn’t seeking re-election. He said he will present his campaign platform in the coming weeks.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. I like the idea of using economic development to bring new revenue into the city coffers. I think it’s one of the best ways to minimize property tax increases. I don’t know Mr. Yamamoto, but he certainly has an impressive résumé. I do have a few worries I hope he can address.

    The first worry is that economic development needs to be broader than the downtown core. While empty storefronts are a concern there, it looks pretty healthy considering the overall economy. I think the outlying commercial areas may have greater potential for growth: Harbor square, Westgate, Firdale Village, Highway 99, 5 corners and Perrinville. How and where will he focus on development?

    The second worry is whether there’s economic benefit for citizens. Only a very tiny fraction of retail sales make it back to Edmonds. It helps when businesses have local owners and local employees, but the real economic benefit to the city is small there as well. If we’re going to spend money on economic development, I’d like to see some rigorous accounting that shows haw much value were getting from that investment. Obviously investment economic development tends not to have short term payback, so we need to temper our expectations a little. How will he demonstrate that economic development dollars are spent in a way that benefits everybody?

    The third worry is a more delicate matter. As a downtown business owner, Mr. Yamamoto has a conflict of interest if he is elected to help decide where city dollars are spent. That clearly doesn’t disqualify him in any way, but I think it does merit close scrutiny, and I will expect him to demonstrate that he won’t abuse his position for personal gain. I’m especially concerned that if Mr. Peterson is reelected we’ll have two downtown business owners on the council. Mr. Plunkett works for a business in downtown Edmonds, even though he works from the Lynnwood office. That may not be the broad representation we need. How will Mr. Yamamoto assure us that he will not use this position for personal gain?

    I mean no insult by any of this, so I hope no offense is taken. As a newcomer to city politics, he should expect more questions than incumbent candidates will get. He seems to be a hard-woking likable guy who cares about the city. His experience as a business owner may give him valuable insights. I admire the leadership he has already demonstrated. I look forward to learning more about him in the weeks to come.

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