As promised, here’s a follow-up story to Monday night’s forum featuring candidates for Edmonds City Council and Mayor. We are publishing the question that each candidate asked the other, and the candidates’ responses, but you can also view nearly all of the forum on video here. (We had to delete one section because the sound didn’t work, but were able to capture those questions and answers on audio tape and transcribed them so they could be included.)
City Council Position 7
Darlene Stern’s question to Lora Petso: Given your voting record against creating business development in Edmonds, how would you intend to create revenue to maintain the infrastructure and public safety and parks?
Petso’s response: I can’t recall that I have a voting record against businesses. I worked extensively during my the first term on council to improve a sign ordinance that was pretty much crafted with the Bowl in mind and would have made just about every other sign in the city completely illegal, including the sign we then had at Albertson’s. I’ve opposed the business square footage tax, I opposed some of the other taxes on businesses that we had in mind and I have consistently supported business growth in Edmonds. What I have not perhaps consistently supported is the construction of residential units. If that’s your definition of business growth, then that needs to be subjected to higher scrutiny. For example, the proposal presently at Westgate is targeted to bring enough people into that area to support a corner grocery store. That’s in the marketing analysis.
Petso’s question to Stern: Do you support our building height limits?
Stern’s response: Let me state clearly that I am not, never have been and never will be in favor of or support tall buildings. I come from Chicago, and I like it here. I like the small town atmosphere. I am not connected with, nor have I received campaign contributions from any person, company or group that has taken a position on this issue. If elected to serve on the Edmonds City Council, and the issue of codes or changes in building heights comes up during my tenure I would insist on a rigorous examination of any and all proposals and ensure full public knowledge of the proposals and full public input. Any changes would have to be changes that are acceptable to all, and not those driven by a small group.
Council Position 6
Al Rutledge’s question to Frank Yamamoto: There’ve been several proposals to raise the building heights. They’re talking 65 feet at Westgate, 60 feet in other areas. I’d like to know what his opinion is on raising building heights.
Yamamoto’s response: Obviously I’m in favor of building heights to the code, whatever that may be in the particular area. The Bowl obviously should have different heights than the Westgate area, depending on where you are. So if the code calls for a certain height limit, I am in favor of buildings at that height limit.
Yamamoto’s question to Rutledge: Since we are in the middle of the strategic plan, how do you think that will affect how the city might be run?
Rutledge’s response: I’ve been going (to Council meetings) since 1988, there’ve been six of these. The revenue still comes into the city. What they are doing is fine. The national trend is, the economy is slow but the city keeps bringing in revenue. And so by starting up a new plan to generate more funds, bring in more businesses is great because we are going to be hit here before too long of a down trend in revenue. I’ve been saying this for several years and I’ve been wrong all the time, but eventually it’s going to hit the city. And so by bringing in more people to bring more work, that’s what we’ve got to do – I’m 100 percent for it.
Council Position 4
Bob Wilcox question to Diane Buckshnis: In March of this year, you sent an email to Stephen Clifton, the City’s Economic Development Director, asking him to focus on a developmental agreement with Doug Spee so his post office/hotel project could move forward. What has changed to cause you to pull your support?
Buckshnis response: Actually, I don’t think I have pulled my support and Stephen Clifton and the rest of the Economic Development Commission are still looking at this thing. What happened is, we had a planner create it, and we sent it over to our attorney, and our attorney has some issues with this. So there’s been no pull of anything. All we’re basically doing is moving forward in a more diplomatic, slower process using attorneys because obviously it does affect all of the areas in the downtown BD zones. So I find that to be an incorrect assumption.
Buckshnis question to Wilcox: Prior to running for council, in addition to my community involvement, I was actively involved in our governmental process. I took public positions by giving testimony before council, I wrote letters to the editor, I was very vocal. As a councilmember, the positions I took and the actions I advocated are by far reflected in my record. Can you provide examples of public positions you’ve taken as an involved citizen prior to your campaigning that would substantiate your perspectives.
Wilcox’s response: No. What I’ve done over the last 35 years is volunteered in the community. I have not been involved in government. What I’ve done is coached Little League, my wife and I…were youth ministers, we’ve done where we thought we could do the most good at the time. I was involved very deeply in Ducks Unlimited, which is one of the largest conservation, wetlands preservation organizations in the world, 90 cents of very dollar goes back to work in the field. So no I haven’t been involved in government, this is my first run — other than ninth grade. I was going to run for vice president of the class…but I wasn’t allowed to run because I was flunking French.
Council Position 5
DJ Wilson question to Joan Bloom: What would you have done differently had you been on council in place of me in the last four years?
Bloom’s response: First of all, the issue related to the levies, you and I both oppose the levies but for very, very different reasons. I’m in opposition to it because I feel we need to look at expenses, you’ve consistently said that our expenses are as lean as they can get. So that’s probably the main reason that I ran against you, is because I disagreed with you strongly on how you were approaching the levy issue. I feel in these economic times, we shouldn’t be asking people for more money, we should be looking at how we can get the expenses down. It was a real struggle working with you around the City Attorney issue and I didn’t agree that there were as many reasons to keep him as to let him go.
Bloom’s question to Wilson: I’ve been endorsed by three seated councilmembers and you have been endorsed by no seated councilmembers. I wonder if you have an opinion as to why that is.
Wilson’s response: I didn’t ask them for their endorsement. Mike Cooper, I asked. Mike Cooper said yes. Washington Conservation Voters, Edmonds Police Officers, SEIU, Washington Realtors, Affordable Housing Council, Jay Inslee, Mike Hope, people I’ve asked have said yes. And I’m proud of that. I’m proud of my endorsement list.