Commentary: How I became interested in City Hall
Editor’s note: The following column was submitted by Neil Tibbott, who has applied for appointment for the vacant Position 6 on the Edmonds City Council. We welcome submissions by any other candidate who wants to share why they are interested in the position.
By now, anyone who watches what happens in Edmonds knows that our city council has a vacancy and 15 people have applied to fill that spot. Some of them may be familiar to you because they’ve been active serving Edmonds for some time. Even those who aren’t familiar to you have a story that prompted them to submit an application.
Here’s my story…
My first experience with the Edmonds City Council happened over 14 years ago when my wife and I began organizing neighbors to slow the speed of traffic on our street. One of our neighbors suggested we speak to the City Council and then nominated me, the newbie, to go make an appeal. The process was simple enough, I signed up on a sheet of paper by the front door and waited to make my comment. When my turn came up, I asked for the council to look into the unsafe walking conditions for kids going to and from Seaview Elementary.
From my perspective, no one on the council heard our concern. I watched a few more people make comments and concluded visiting the council was a waste of time. But before I could get all the way out of the building one of the councilmembers, Michael Plunkett, left his seat and met me at the doorway and offered to help. The following week another councilmember, Lora Petso, contacted me by letter offering her support and, much to my surprise, a phone number.
That contact with our City Council led our neighborhood group to a full year of exploring options, eliminating possibilities and trying things that didn’t pan out. Eventually a new city engineer came on the job and helped us create a lasting solution that continues to make a difference to this day.
I learned three things in that exercise: 1. Five years is a short time span in the life of a city. 2. Common sense is always trumped by laws, codes and regulations. 3. Compromise is a beautiful word.
We didn’t get everything we wanted to resolve our transportation issue, but we got enough to make it better. We worked harder than we expected to reach a solution, but eventually we found one that the neighbors, city and state could live with.
You may be wondering, how my work on traffic issues propelled me to throw my name in the hat to fill the current council vacancy. The fact is, one thing led to another and I found that I could make a difference by serving our city and by helping others make a difference too. Edmonds is a wonderful place to live partly because so many people are willing to pitch in to make it a great place.
In case you’re wondering… there is still a lot of room for citizens to get involved in Edmonds. Whether you participate in public hearings, strategy sessions, service committees, sports programs or art events, there is a place to get involved. What are your interests? What do your neighbors want to work on together? What project could your civic group or team undertake for Edmonds?
Just remember it might take longer than you think, be more complicated than you expected and require a willingness to compromise.
– By Neil Tibbott