On June 6, 2017, the Edmonds City Council voted on a 5-2 margin to reject Mr. Tyler Nebeker as an applicant for the 2017 Edmonds Salary Commission, on the basis that he was 1) a white male and 2) a member of the Washington Policy Center (WPC). I supported Mr. Nebeker’s application for the following reasons:
- The appointed Commissioners must have an ability to use sound reasoning, a willingness to work with a team and good analytical ability in examining salary ranges for the mayor and councilmembers. Mr. Nebeker clearly showed these traits in his interview with Council.
- I fully support the goal of diversity in the composition of all Edmonds Boards and Commissions. However, in this instance, there were only five applicants for the five open Salary Commission openings, and the applicants were all men even though the Commission openings were publicized in the standard manner. Mr. Nebeker was one of the five.
- Diversity has many facets, one of which is age. Mr. Nebeker is youthful, and in fact, he was complimented during his Council interview for his willingness to volunteer his time for the Salary Commission at this busy time in his young life.
- The Salary Commission is non-partisan, and liberal or conservative political leanings should not factor into a decision whether to accept or reject a Commission candidate—the primary consideration should be whether the candidate can be objective, can work with a team and can synthesize facts and data in arriving at appropriate salary recommendations.
- The decisions of the Salary Commission do not account for gender. They focus on the appropriate salary levels for the gender-neutral positions of Edmonds mayor and Edmonds councilmember and utilize gender-neutral compensation comparisons for similar positions from other cities in our region.
In light of the above factors, Mr. Nebeker was well qualified to serve as a volunteer member of the Salary Commission. Unfortunately, Councilmember Fraley-Monillas convinced four other councilmembers that Mr. Nebeker’s membership in the WPC was an indication he supports wage discrimination against women (and by implication, is a sexist) since one of the WPC policies–in her opinion—argues against additional levels of controls against wage discrimination even though it is already illegal. However, in Council’s interview with Mr. Nebeker, he was not asked his opinion on this particular issue–only whether he generally supported WPC’s policies. This was unfair and resulted in Mr. Nebeker’s rejection as a candidate–a rejection that publicly suggested he supports sexist policies.
The other four councilmembers in the majority have remained silent about the reasons for their vote in this instance and it is unclear whether they continue to believe their votes were proper. However, Councilmember Fraley-Monillas’ recent letter to the editor explaining her role in this matter showed no contrition or indication she would act differently given the same set of circumstances as those underlying Mr. Nebeker’s rejection. This is highly concerning. We clearly need to actively work toward greater diversity in our local boards and commissions. But what was done in Mr. Nebeker’s case was simply not appropriate. We can do better.
Edmonds City Council Pos. #5