Mayoral candidates face off at Edmonds Center for the Arts Monday

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

 

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5 Comments

  1. Correction:
    Their was no face off and no debate last night at the candidates forum.
    It was flowers and ice cream all around. Certainly no votes were changed as a
    result of this meeting.
    Lets put some meat into the election and have a real debate?
    Dave Page

  2. Kudos to the Chamber and the candidates for a great event last night.

    I appreciated the subtly of the debate, and the overall respectful tone of the candidates. Sure there were some darts thrown, but the debate seemed to be more about issues than emotions and that’s a winner for me.

    To my count, while many candidates took a wandering path to answers, nearly all candidates provided clear answers to the questions asked.

    It would have been nice to hear from those who don’t support the levies where they would trim the budget to get things in balance. While I’m not crazy about increasing taxes, I’m less supportive of just pushing this issue down the line for another year of continual debate and inaction that will just lead us to another levy vote.

    I really liked Earling’s statement that talked about analyzing a situation thoroughly, making a decision and moving on. I know that the Council has been working hard on this, but it does feel from a citizen’s perspective that we’ve been thinking for months if not a year or more without actually moving forward.

    In my ideal world the council would have the political courage to take action, rather than just hand a controversial decision back to voters.

    Anyhow… it appears that I too have wandered a bit… bottom-line it was a great event. I guess if you want to see politicians swinging at each other there’s always CSPAN or Everett School Board meetings.

  3. Jamie Reece said: In my ideal world the council would have the political courage to take action, rather than just hand a controversial decision back to voters.

    What action would you like to see them take?

  4. Joe:

    Thanks for the comment.

    I would have preferred the found greater consensus, and either:

    (1) found a way to solve the issues without requiring a vote – since if these levies fail, we’ll be back to square one.

    {Frankly, I’m not sure under the current laws if they can raise revenue without a vote of our citizens. I’ll admit… I’m not a city government expert that’s why I rely on my representatives to know and do their jobs as best is possible.

    For that, I do my best to be understanding of the genuinely difficult problems they face balancing needs for services with the desire to keep taxes and fees low.}

    (2) if a citizen vote is required, I wish they would have come up with a solution that they could all, or mostly all, stand behind. Instead we had all but one candidate for council say they didn’t support the levies – which is a problem since we’ll probably be restarting the solution process again when the new council is sworn in, and much of the work of the last year will be wasted.

  5. Your instincts were correct – there is nothing they can do without a vote that will bring in significant revenue in the next few years. If economic development goes well, that could eventually make a difference, but not soon enough to avoid a levy.

    I think that once the election is over and the strategic planning process produces results, you’ll see consensus developing – regardless of who wins in November. I could argue that the strategic planning process should have started a few years ago, but it didn’t. There’s plenty of blame to spread far and wide for that.

    I think they’re going to get confirmation that taxpayers are very ornery right now, and will not vote for a levy when there is uncertainty about how the money will be used.

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