Wait — Edmonds City Council makes a decision on filling vacant seat

New City of Edmonds Finance Director N. Scott James with his family after he is confirmed by the city council Tuesday night.

New City of Edmonds Finance Director N. Scott James, far right, with his family after he is confirmed by the city council Tuesday night.

Article updated to correct the original amount budgeted for City Park — $1.35 million rather than $3.5 million.

The Edmonds City Council took action Tuesday night regarding how to fill the Position 6 seat that has been vacant for two months.

They decided not to decide.

“I feel that this process has become very contentious,” Edmonds City Councilmember Joan Bloom stated before making her case to delay the vote two more weeks, until March 11. The other five councilmembers agreed, adding that they would spend the extra time continuing to interview candidates in the pool of 14 who have applied — all in an effort to break the 3-3 deadlock that has prevailed after two rounds of voting.

During the first round Feb. 11, the council went through 27 ballots before declaring a deadlock, as three councilmembers — Bloom, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Lora Petso — voted to support former councilmember Steve Bernheim, and the remaining three — Diane Buckshnis, Kristiana Johnson and Strom Peterson — supported retired federal attorney Stephen Schroeder. In the second round, Feb. 18, the council went through 19 ballots and ended up with the same 3-3 split, for the same three candidates. (During both rounds, Buckshnis, Johnson and Peterson did try to throw the names of several other candidates in to the mix, but none of them garnered votes from the Bernheim block.)

The council has until March 31 to agree to a candidate; after that the decision goes to the Snohomish County Council.

In other action, the council also heard an extensive report from Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite on challenges that have developed related to a spray pad planned for City Park. The city has learned that the water tank that was supposed to be installed underneath the spray pad interferes with the park’s water table, requiring $322,419 for additional geotech work and documentation, on top of the $1.35 million already budgeted. There also could be additional costs later, Hite said, after construction work begins.

In addition, the city’s plan to include a built-in water reuse system so that treated spray pad water could be recycled for the park irrigation, toilets and the flower program has to be modified. The state Department of Ecology informed the city that it isn’t yet ready to approve water reuse for toilets and flowers, but that it could be used for park irrigation.

Options presented to the council regarding the spray pad tank were to approve the additional expenditure for geotech work at the current park site, to stop the project altogether, or to move forward with installing new play equipment — already on order as an upgrade for the park site — minus the spray pad, and look for other places to locate the water play feature. The council directed Hite to replace the play area while continuing an analysis of alternative locations.

The council also:

– unanimously confirmed N. Scott James as the city’s new finance director. James, an Edmonds resident, has served for several years in the same position with the City of Mukilteo.

– approved ordinances clarifying city wireless regulations and addressing the legal status of existing wireless communication facilities that were built prior to or just after adoption of Edmonds’ original wireless regulations.

– approved the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Open Space and Community Cultural plans.

– agreed to hold a public hearing March 18 on a proposal to sell surplus city property located near the intersection of 184th Street Southwest and 80th Avenue West in the Perrinville neighborhood. Staff was also directed to provide notice about the hearing to citizens who were involved in discussions about this property when a planned residential development was approved for the area several years ago. (That PRD approval has since expired; the hearing only involves the sale of the property, not any specific project or development.)

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17 Comments

  1. pathetic

  2. congratulations to Scott James, an excellent addition to Edmonds!

  3. I ALSO FEEL IT DOES NOT BODE WELL FOR THE MEMBERS OF THE EDMONDS CITY COUNCIL THAT THEY CANNOT WORK TOGETHER TO COME UP WITH A SOLUTION THAT WOULD BEST REPRESENTS THE INTERESTS OF THE CITIZENS THEY REPRESENT, RATHER THAN THEIR PERSONAL FEELINGS!!! wHEN ARE PUBLIC SERVANTS GOING TO REALIZE THEY ARE ELECTED TO REPRESENT all cITIZENS, AND THEY NEED TO LEAVE THEIR PERSONAL AGENDAS AT HOME.

  4. The city council disappoints me. I went to them once with an a request and I felt brushed off. It seems to me that unless something affects one of them personally, you don’t really have a chance of being heard. Pathetic that they can’t even put someone in the vacant seat. Let’s remember this come election time.

  5. Ditto pathetic that council can’t agree on new member

  6. Cancel plans for water spray feature. Already pricey for a feature used for short summer season

    • Must agree w/ Mr. Farmer. At least they caught this problem prior to construction when only about $100-150k has been spent to date (unlike some other projects where large sums were already spent when they were “surprised” by what they found in the ground).

  7. At this point the best solution for the Council is to probably continue to do nothing and let the County Council decide as they are likely to more objective in choosing the best qualified individual to serve out Mr. Yamamoto’s term. The County will certainly be less likely to vote emotionally.

    I personally feel the divide is between the two schools of thought in Edmonds, that is those favoring to continue the small town atmosphere long favored by citizens with the other group favoring large and fast development including higher building heights.

    Interestingly,the current situation will give citizens a good read on which individuals they wish to retain in future elections.

    Meanwhile it needs to be said at this point that all should display respect if not admiration in their criticisms and praise. And each Council member should stick to their truly honest convictions and stand their ground. Then let the chips fall where they may..

  8. Have to agree about the spray park. Was looking forward to taking grandkids there, but not when the full scope is now only being discovered, and costs will continue to climb. And these costs and problems are just to build it, who knows what maintenance costs will be. A great idea, but I vote to cancel the project and look for another idea for summer fun.

  9. There will be no small town feel to Edmonds if the opportunists here, including in our government people connected to REAL ESTATE, development, planning, construction, etc, continue to erode the core of this town for short term gain. The classic housing ripped down and plowed under in the last 38 years is shocking. In many, many places WHOLE BLOCKS….There is only one way that THAT can happen!….This isn’t progress, it is destruction and backward thinking.
    I am on 2nd Avenue North and I have spent the last three months listening to bulldozers,demolition, hammers, loud music, gigantic flat bed trucks early in the morning, workers working on roofs at night………. for 7 houses, with 3!!! remaining to be built over the next few months, and this is on ONE block and around to Sunset.

    This is a fragile environment in Edmonds and all these people keep pounding the environment, without the slightest thought of the wildlife and environment here and the affects of this for years to come. ….
    Please VOTE these people out of Edmonds next time. There are zillions of small towns around the US that don’t rely on this type of “development” to thrive

    • sorry, I made a Freudian slip with the “VOTE these people out of Edmonds next time”…..

      meant just Vote these people out of office

  10. I’ll state the obvious: at some point someone will make the decision and we will have a 7th person sitting in the seat. Unfortunately, the process is not reflecting well on the council – and come election time, instead of unifying a community there will likely be a greater divide…unless they can put agendas aside and focus their efforts on a joint vision.

    Tere, I don’t think it is as simple as you suggest. We need to attract jobs (or some form of revenue producing channel) to this community in order to remain sustainable. Unfortunately, “zillions of small towns” are not thriving – and the overall growth rate for employment and industry is a paltry .8% year over year for the past several years.

    I love this town – and love its unique features – and there are ways to preserve both the features and make it sustainable…but it requires compromise on both sides.

  11. I agree on disbanding the idea of the spray pad with the known and unforseen potential future costs. This sounds like it could be more trouble than it is worth.

  12. This is really sad but expected. Council could have developed a process that was fair to all and would produce a new council member having the support of all the council. Creating some objective criteria for selection. Hiring employees, consultants, and other staff is always done with much more objectivity. The 15 original candidates have quality of experiences that are impressive on paper and was reinforced with the interviews. With two former council members as candidates and others who have run for council before along with some impressive newcomers, the council could have created an analysis and voting process that would lead to a consensus candidate. But this is Edmonds, well known for its charm and a polarized council. With history as our guide it did not take a mental giant to conclude that the council would be as polarized on candidates as they often are on other issues. The pattern of the votes would suggest issues other than compromise are at work. Creating a 4 member voting block seems more important than selecting some fresh ideas.

    There are well established voting methods that are designed to produce comprise and select the candidate with the most overall support. You can google “Rank Voting” and see how it works and how other cities have used this method for regular elections. Basically it requires someone to vote for a top choice and other choices at the same time. There are various ways to do the counting but all lead to a consensus. Had council used some form of rank voting we would not have produced the deadlock. Frankly this form of voting for regular elections would change the whole election to a much more positive process designed to give a more rounded selection of good candidates.

    Let’s look at the bright side of all this and see if we can find better way to resolve our conflicts in the future. Council could appoint a citizens group to put forward some ideas on how to improve the current public election process and that could lead to better
    methods to replacing a member when needed. We have lost the last two council members when they moved out of town and we are likely to lose others in the future. So let’s work on solutions, not just continue the conflicts.

  13. This city council is such a disappointment.

  14. I’ve decided I have more to say…Why is the council even considering Steve Bernheim again?! He had his turn, he blew it with his odd behavior and now we want him back? Surely there are qualified citizens who have applied to fill the vacancy. Certain members of this council are definitely not forward thinking and will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. I would like to see a new council ready and willing to work together for the citizens of Edmonds.

  15. Somebody needs to vote for the other guy, its not like your sleeping with him you around him about 2 hours a week and he only has one vote just pick somebody and be done

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