Economic Development Commission members need to live in Edmonds, council says

After much debate, the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night voted 4-3 to require members of the Edmonds Citizens Economic Development Commission to live in Edmonds.

The ordinance amending the Edmonds City Code is also retroactive, so it prevents former Edmonds City Councilmember Michael Plunkett from serving on the commission. It was City Councilmember Lora Petso’s appointment of Plunkett last month that sparked a round of public comments opposing the appointment, and sent the issue to be discussed during council committee meetings last month.

The measure, introduced by Councilmember Strom Peterson, states that the 2009 ordinance that created the commission “indicates a legislative intent” that members be Edmonds residents and that a residency requirement “serves the public interest.” The approved code amendment also states that if a commission member “fails to maintain his/her eligibility either through an amendment of the eligibility criteria or due to a chance of circumstances surrounding the commission (e.g. change of residency) after his/her appointment, that commissioner shall lose his/her seat.”

Petso, supported by Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Joan Bloom, unsuccessfully attempted to remove the retroactive element and save her appointment, but the effort failed when Peterson, Council President Diane Buckshnis, Kristiana Johnson and Thomas Mesaros voted against it. The three councilmembers also made the case at various points during the discussion about the value of opening the commission to a variety of people who are non-residents, including Edmonds business owners who live elsewhere or those who live in unincorporated areas of Edmonds, like Esperance. There was also an attempt to postpone the vote to a later date to allow for further consideration.

Bloom also wondered what would happen in the future if the same standard of retroactive non-residency was applied to other city boards and commissions, which councilmembers agreed to review later. For example, Bloom noted that three members of the Edmonds Sister City Commission are non-Edmonds residents. “Are we going to do the same to them?” she asked.

But in the end, those arguments did not persuade the majority to change their minds.

“I don’t want this to turn into a discussion over weeks and weeks when I think the intent (of those who created the commission) was clear, the change was simple and I think moving forward we can look at the other commissions,” Peterson said.

The council also:
-Authorized the mayor to sign Solarize Edmonds Project Memorandum of Understanding that supports a community-based project to encourage Southwest Snohomish County residents to install solar projects in their homes.

-Passed a resolution supporting the naming of the area outside the Public Safety Complex as Veterans Plaza, which will occur — along with a special ceremony — on Memorial Day, next Monday, May 26  at 1 p.m.

-Received a report on final construction costs for the Main Street Lighting and Sidewalk Enhancements Project, which Public Works Director Phil Williams proudly noted was completed nearly $100,000 under budget.

-Authorized the mayor to sign a professional services agreement with KPG, P.S. for design of walkway improvements to 238th Street Southwest from 100th Avenue West to 104th Avenue West. Included in the completely grant-funded project will be $50,000 for a Cascade Bicycle Club project aimed at educating Sherwood Elementary students on how to safely bike to school, Williams said.

-Received a report on bids opened May 8, for the Annual Sewer Replacement Project (Phase 2) and award of contract to Shoreline Construction in the amount of $1,778,836.26. The project involves six locations and will include installation of approximately 4,500 linear feet of new sewers and 1,000 feet of new waterline.

-Voted to have all council committee meetings recorded via digital voice recorders, with both the recordings and summary minutes posted on the city’s website.

-Agreed to hold a regular council meeting just before next Tuesday’s regularly-scheduled committee meetings to discuss Bloom’s concerns about the city’s efforts so far to hire a communications consultant. Bloom said she would like to see more council involvement in the selection process and also would prefer that the job description include a greater emphasis on increasing citizen involvement with the council.

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12 Comments

  1. Why would our legislative intent be to limit our Economic Development Commission to residents only? Wouldn’t we increase the potential quality of our EDC membership if we had a broader pool of candidates to choose from? Why would we exclude Edmonds’ property owners, Edmonds’ business owners and others from this commission just because they don’t reside within our City limits? Why would we exclude a small number or even one at-large member who may have much value and expertise to offer?

    Do you have to be a resident of Edmonds to help guide sustainable economic development strategies for the betterment of the City? What message does that logic send to non residents who are considering buying property or opening businesses in Edmonds?

    If this is truly what the legislative intent was, maybe the legislative intent should be reconsidered. I think a solid argument can be made that a 100% residency requirement is contrary to the public interest.

    Finally, I believe allowing Stephen Clifton to speak for 4 full minutes and then voting on the related Ordinance at the very next regular Council Meeting is not fair and equal treatment. Why the urgency – why the rush? Why the extraordinary step of making the new Ordinance retroactive?

  2. Snohomish County’s legislative intent is evidenced by the County Council’s appointment guidelines. These guidelines state that the person must reside or work in Snohomish County, or show evidence of special interest in Snohomish County. (Snohomish County Code, Section 2.03.060 – Boards and Commissions – General Requirements)

  3. THIS is NOT the legistive intent for the PUBLIC INTEREST, and if it was, it needs to be CHANGED. THIS is NOt A democratic city if it is RULED by a SELECT FEW, and THAT is so OBVIOUS…….It takes very little research to see the WHOLE PICTURE…….. THIS is not in the PUBLIC’S INTEREST! It is very blatant…..even the MEDIA cannot always be objective……Something very wrong with that…..we are supposed to BE a DEMOCRACY

    There is a REASON this city EXCLUDES…..THIS is NOT in the PUBLIC’S INTEREST……just a select few……The citizens of the City of Edmonds need to get rid of those that are NOT working for the CITIZENS of this city and only working for special interest……That special interest has not made the city of Edmonds richer……I mean that LITERALLY also!…….

    does the City of Edmonds LOOK richer literally? As a citizen, ask yourself that question. ….We can’t even afford to fix our streets, fix our sidewalks, fill potholes, put up more crosswalk signs, catch speeders that are killing our most vulnerable, etc, etc, etc. etc. ad nauseum

    and! we are a country of LAWS……WITHOUT the LAWS of the land being FOLLOWED , we are NOTHING……….not civilized…..

  4. A big ‘thank you’ to the four Members who voted to correct Member Petso’s back-room plan and tactics. This decision is of importance given the issues involved…development and our local economy. Member Petso has noted her position on both items, and then looked outside of the County to find a supporter. As a resident and voter, I am glad to see this come to closure.

  5. Again, why is no one raising an issue with the fact that the Mayor appointed a member of staff to this commission, but apparently council member Petso is the only person who can do wrong….. Read between the lines people.

    • The mayor appointed a resident of Edmonds who did not work for the city at the time of appointment. SEVERAL months later the person was offered a TEMP job with the city based on his unique background and skills. So the mayor did not appoint a member of staff. So to characterize this appoint of the mayor as appointed a member of staff is simply not true.

      • Actually the appointment was made as described, except that it was done by a councilmember and not the mayor.

  6. Yes, there are many people on commissions, etc. appointed by our MAYOR……

    This is a small town, and when people running for office receive LARGER than LIFE sums of $$$$ from other entities (and who knows what we don’t KNOW about!), half way across the country, I believe we need NEW LEADERSHIP democratically chosen……..Speaking of “back room” ……..There is plenty of that here (and I’m not talking about Petso!…..you ALL know who you are!), and unless the citizens of Edmonds stand up to this, the PUBLIC INTEREST will NEVER come FIRST…….ONLY SPECIAL INTERESTS, which have NOTHING to do with the BEST public interests for this small town. ……Maybe this town needs NEW leadership and maybe the citizens should demand that NOW. ………..

    SHAME on those of you who would blame these elderly victims!

    • “This is a small town, and when people running for office receive LARGER than LIFE sums of $$$$ from other entities (and who knows what we don’t KNOW about!), half way across the country,”

      THIS…is quite an accusation. Do you have PROOF …. of any misdeed…or just HYPERBOLE??

  7. It is easy to check and see where ANY candidate gets their financing/funding

    • Proof? Not accusations. Not hyperbole. Proof? Since there are campaign contribution limits in place and a fairly stringent set of reporting standards with the state; where are these “LARGER than LIFE sums of $$$$ from other entities…half way across the country.” (please not the proper use of ellipses.)

  8. This is a difficult decision to make for any council, but I believe the council acted responsibly. My challenge with outside individuals on any EDC is that in a town with a very central downtown and strong character, the citizens of that town should decide how to steer economic development within their community. It would be very easy for any elected official to pander to a specific group via nominating a non-resident who may or may not support what the majority of the community residents want. In most cases, there are ample opportunities for EDC’s to reach out to other groups, other EDC’s, and other resources to seek advice, and preserve the community that makes Edmonds what it is. I was slightly torn on this one, but at the end of the day, I believe that the business owners and property owners come to Edmonds because of the community the residents have and continue to create, not because they see little opportunity for growth, poor profit potential, or a miserable workplace for their employees or tenants.

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