We’re providing a brief summary here of issues raised during Monday night’s candidates’ forum, but we encourage you to visit the My Edmonds News video archive of the forum (presented in three parts) here.
Part 1, the mayoral candidates
For the first time during this election season, all of Edmonds’ mayoral and city council candidates were on the same stage Monday night, providing the crowd of nearly 200 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts — plus more listening live via My Edmonds News at home — a chance to hear their views with two weeks to go until general election ballots arrive in mailboxes.
There was a bit of expected testiness between Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper and his challenger Dave Earling, as the former Edmonds City Council president repeated his assertion that many Edmonds residents feel that Cooper isn’t supplying sufficient leadership — both in City Hall and in the City Council Chambers.
“Folks want new leadership in this town, “ Earling said. “They’re tired of the infighting, they’re tired of the scuffling they see go on and they want to make progress.”
People are also “overwhelmingly concerned”about the city’s budget and the prospect of a million-dollar general fund levy “in times when they are having to make compromises in their own personal lives,” Earling added. He said he won’t support the proposed general fund levy, especially when citizens aren’t convinced that the city budget is as lean as it can be. Earling noted that he will “probably” support levies for street overlays and parks “but only if staff sets priorities of what should be repaired.”
Cooper, on the other, hand, said that he will present a preliminary budget to the city council Tuesday night that will include $700,000 worth of cuts in city services. “If we don’t pass a levy we’ll have to continue to cut. It’s a little like carving a Thanksgiving turkey. We are down to the carcass, ladies and gentlemen.”
The current mayor, who was appointed last summer to fill out the term of ex-Mayor Gary Haakenson, rejected Earling’s claim that the city was lacking leadership, noting that “I work hard to get the city council to agree with me but they aren’t always going to do it.” He cited the progress that Edmonds has made during his watch, including $16 million in new construction projects that are bringing 160 new construction jobs and dozens of permanent long-term jobs to Edmonds. He also noted his role in implementing new energy policies — from solar panels on the Frances Anderson Center to additional electric car-charging stations– that will save taxpayers money and protect the environment.
Coming next: the City Council candidates