Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling told a crowd of supporters Wednesday night during his campaign kickoff event that he is running for a second term to continue the positive momentum started during his first four years.
“The reason that I want to keep going, bottom line: We have a lot of positive things started… and I just want the opportunity to see some follow through,” Earling said to the group of about 75 gathered at Arista Wine Cellars. “And I think in the next four years we can move some boulders and cause a difference.”
Introductory remarks in support of Earling’s candidacy were made by Verdant Health Commission Superintendent Carl Zapora, who said of the mayor: “His judgment is good and he knows how to make the right calls at the right time.”
Added Ruth Arista of Arista Wine Cellars: “Bringing people together rather than dividing, that’s a real skill, and a natural attribute of his (Earling’s) leadership.”
Earling cited as an accomplishment the city’s economic development, which he says started under former Mayor Gary Haakenson. Five years ago, those coming to downtown Edmonds for dinner “could park anyplace.” Now, Earling added, “I’m delighted that you have a parking problem, because the mix of businesses that we’ve been able to attract — the restaurants, you can do gelato, you can do yogurt, there are things for kids to do, we’ve got ECA (Edmonds Center for the Arts), we’ve got our own local theater — there are all these reasons that people come here – downtown and to the waterfront. There’s a vitality and an energy.”
It’s key to find a balance between economic vitality and maintaining Edmonds’ character as the oldest city in Snohomish County, Earling said. “We need to respect what is already here, and focus on two things – expenses and revenue – because we are not a big box community,” he said, adding a main priority for the last four years has been “creative ways to generate revenue.”
A prime example of that is the Salish Crossing development, set to open this summer at the former Waterfront Antique Mall south of the ferry loading dock, which will include restaurants — including a Top Pot Doughnuts and a Spud Fish and Chips, a distillery and the Cascadia Art Museum.
“That’s going to change the whole feel,” Earling said. “Here’s a great example of how we can create commerce without the community feeling threatened. That’s the kind of entrepreneurial leadership we need to have in this town, so we don’t scare people with the word development.”
In addition, Earling described the recent Edmonds City Council decision to rezone the Westgate neighborhood for mixed-use development “another important step.” The council made a hard decision that will allow us to look at the future – retail on the first floor, housing units above,” Earling said. “We will in fact have a walkable local neighborhood and we need to focus on local neighborhoods.”
The Highway 99 area of Edmonds also presents opportunities for housing development, Earling said, noting that there is currently $10 million allocated through the state Legislature (which is currently working to pass a final budget) to begin work on Highway 99 revitalization. “We need to improve Highway 99,” Earling said. “how can we make it grow and become a more attractive place all the way from the county line to 212th?”
Earling said efforts to fund Highway 99 work is an example of “improving our community through the legislative process,” another priority of his. “It takes a while to build the relationships to get this kind of project pulled together,” he said.
Other projects currently in the state budget that could help Edmonds: Money to fund the purchase of Civic Center Playfield from the Edmonds School District, to start construction of a new Edmonds Senior and Community Center, and to put a new roof on the Edmonds Center for the Arts gymnasium.
“All of these things coming together shouldn’t scare people because really what it does is enhances the community,” Earling said. “You need to think big picture, long term. Solve the little problems, that’s important — but we’re moving our community in the right direction.”