Declaring that the current Edmonds City Council and Mayor are “rudderless,” Dave Earling launched his campaign for Mayor of Edmonds to about 100 supporters gathered at Arista Wine Cellars Thursday night.
Among those in the crowd were current and former elected officials (although no current Edmonds City Councilmembers) including the Snohomish County Executive, Democrat Aaron Reardon, and his Republican challenger Mike Hope.
While the Edmonds mayoral and city council positions are non-partisan, former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson, who introduced Earling, said it’s important for the mayor “to be able to cross over party lines to make decisions.”
“We all know that Dave’s a Republican,” Haakenson said. “As I look around at all the people I know, there’s a mix of Democrats and Republicans this room like I’ve never seen for a candidate in all my years in Edmonds.”
Earling — who served as an Edmonds City Councilmember from 1992 to 2003, including five terms as council president – noted that he decided to run for mayor after receiving encouragement from citizens concerned “about the level and quality of leadership in our town.”
Citing the fact the council took three months to decide whether to ban plastic bags and considered buying the former Skipper’s restaurant property even thought the city had no money, Earling said that “we have what I would describe as a rudderless elected official group,” Earling said. “They’re eight different people with eight different agendas. There’s no one there to gather them up and point them in a direction and that’s really the fundamental problem.”
He took a jab at his opponent, current Mayor Mike Cooper, for his decision to not sign the most recent budget passed by the city council. “If you don’t like it, what are you supposed to do?” Earling asked. “Veto it. But the current mayor just decided, Oh well. My view is if you don’t like something, you should tell the other side about it and see if you can’t work it out.”
Cooper is a former Washington State legislator and Snohomish County Councilmember who was appointed by the current City Council to fill the remainder of Haakenson’s term when Haakenson resigned to become Deputy County Executive under Reardon in July 2010.
In order to run for mayor, Earling said he gave up the last 15 months of a six-year appointment by Gov. Chris Gregoire to serve on the Growth Management Hearings Board, joking that he is now “unemployed, looking for a job.”
“I feel that strongly about the conditions we’re in, the expectations of the town and what we should be doing to move our town forward,” he said. Previously the owner of an Edmonds real estate company, Earling also served as Chairman of the Puget Sound Council Transportation Policy Board and Chairman of the Sound Transit and Community Transit Boards. He was also a member of Snohomish County Tomorrow, which is the long-range planning organization for Snohomish County.
“This is going to be hard work, it’s going to be a hard campaign, it’s going be a mean-spirited campaign,” Earling told the group. “You’ve got to brace yourselves for that.”