The second of this year’s Election 2015 Coffees with Harry was held at Café Louvre on Oct. 14. Alicia Crank and Dave Teitzel met with a number of citizens who had questions about the candidacies for Edmonds City Council Position No. 5.
The session started with each candidate giving a brief introduction and reasoning for their desire to be on the council. Teitzel went first, mentioning his lifelong residency in the Puget Sound area; he has lived in Edmonds since 1987. Teitzel retired from Qwest Communications after 35 years, the last five of which were spent in public policy, a role he feels prepares him well for being on the council.
Crank then relayed how she had been coming to the Puget Sound area for over a decade to visit her adoptive family and moved to Edmonds a year and a half ago. She came from Mountain View, Calif., where she worked for the Chamber of Commerce as a community leadership coordinator. She felt that was a unique opportunity to understand the needs of the community, as you work with everything from large companies to small companies to charitable organizations to educators and neighborhood leaders.
The first question addressed citizens’ perception that the council doesn’t listen to citizen input. The state Legislature recently gave the authority for cities to impose an additional $20 car license fee to help pay for transportation issues without approval of voters. Since several years ago the voters of Edmonds soundly rejected an increase in car license fees for the same purpose, would the candidates approve imposing the fee now allowed? Crank went first and stated that she feels all the segments of the citizenry needs to be heard before something like that happened. Teitzel stated that he didn’t feel that such an increase was needed given the improving economic situation of the city. Both said they would vote no on such a proposal.
The next question was to determine how much input the candidates are actually receiving from the citizens; they were asked how many houses each had doorbelled and who their supporters were. Teitzel said he had been doorbelling for a number of months and had been to 5,000 homes. He further stated that his supporters include three former mayors, the current mayor, endorsements from firefighters and police officers and other organizations.
Crank stated that her doorbelling had been limited due to her dealing with a progressive illness. In spite of that, she has worked hard to make herself available to the citizens, doing such things as hosting her own coffees and has been quite active on social media, both receiving input and promoting her ideas. Her supporters include local Democratic legislative leaders and current Councilmembers Bloom and Fraley-Monillas.
Crank was asked, given that she has only lived in town for 16 months, has she prepared herself to deal with the issues that would come before the Edmonds City Council? She stated that in the last year she has either attended or watched on television all but two council meetings. She also spent time trying to analyze where Edmonds is right now and how it compares to her previous communities, and what ideas from those other communities she could bring to help improve Edmonds.
The next question asked the candidates to identify what they thought were the most important issues facing the council in the immediate future. Teitzel said his campaign focuses on the budget and economic development for the city. He thinks the city needs to work with businesses, specifically mentioning those on Highway 99, and determine how the city can help those businesses thrive.
Crank also felt that economic development was important but also included infrastructure development. How can we help develop neighborhoods to work well with commercial interests, specifically mentioning Five Corners and Highway 99. She said there are a lot of people who come “through” Edmonds and we need how to figure to get those people out of their cars and patronize existing and future Edmonds merchants. She also likes the idea of mixed-use developments, maybe even in the downtown area.
Crank was then asked how she felt she would make a better councilmember than Teitzel. She said that was kind of a tricky question as she didn’t feel that he would be an “horrible” councilmember. One of the things she didn’t like about campaigning was the expectation that you feel your opponent was not a good choice. She felt that both were good candidates for the position and they just each brought their own unique set of skills and experiences.
Teitzel then spoke up and said that he agreed with Crank. He has gotten to know her through the campaign and respects her a great deal.
The next question was what was the candidate’s initial impression on how to deal with emergency access to the west side of the train tracks, which is often blocked by train traffic. Crank said that she didn’t think there was any short answer to the issue. There are so many other things involved to give a short quick answer. However, she felt that the most immediate solution would be to build a limited “pedestrian and emergency vehicle” bridge. She thought there were too many potential problems with the option of trying to go under the railroad tracks.
Teitzel expressed concern that the upcoming study and evaluation of potential solutions to train traffic, followed by presentations to the council in their evaluation, will take very many years. And he agrees with Crank that a bridge is probably the best short-term solution.
Both candidates were also asked how they felt they could contribute to a more “civil” city council. Crank said she felt it was a matter of accepting personal responsibility for your actions, and added that the councilmembers need to separate personal issues from their professional council duties. Teitzel said he felt that the council was a “team” and needs to work together and not let personal issues get in the way of accomplishing things as a team. He felt that when you choose to run for council you need to understand that one of the responsibilities is to show respect for other councilmembers, citizens, the mayor and city staff. If you can’t accept that responsibility, then you shouldn’t be running for council.
There were several more questions of the candidates, including their thoughts on Edmonds’ newly-formed Diversity Commission, on the Historic Preservation Commission and establishment of an historic downtown district, and what could be done to help protect neighbors impacted by the noise and parking issues caused by the Taste of Edmonds. You can watch the entire 57-minute meeting here.
Our thanks to the two candidates for offering to meet and answer any question posed. We also need to thank Nabil and Haifa Alhussieni, owners of Cafe Louvre, for hosting us and providing refreshments, and to the citizens who came to learn more about the candidates and their ideas.
— By Harry Gatjens