You can watch a video of the candidate presentations here.
A group of about 70 people turned out Sunday night at the Edmonds Center for the Arts to hear from local candidates during a meet and greet event sponsored by the Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition and Indivisible Edmonds. The event included those running for Edmonds City Council, Edmonds School Board, and Port of Edmonds positions.
Edmonds City Council Position 1
Leading off the evening was Edmonds City Councilmember Kristiana Johnson, who declared: “I have the best job in the city of Edmonds. I love this town.” She noted that prior to being on the city council, she spent her entire career working on long-range transportation, environmental and land-use planning — all experiences that have served her well on the city council.
Johnson’s opponent, Josh Thompson, said he believes his five years working as a Snohomish County Council legislative aide has given him “the experience and skill set to make a very positive impact on day one.” His decision to run for council, he said, stems from the fact that as an Edmonds resident, he doesn’t hear issues of concern to him reflected in council discussions.
(Edmonds City Council incumbents Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Mike Nelson, and Edmonds Port Commissioner Fred Gouge, were unable to attend the event due to longstanding family vacation plans.)
Port of Edmonds District 5 commissioner at large
Steve Johnston is running for election to Port of Edmonds Commissioner after being appointed to finish the term vacated earlier this year with the retirement of Mary Lou Block. He pointed to his 35-year environmental career at Landau and Associates, where he served as CEO. During his time with Landau, he also was the program manager for environmental projects for the Port of Edmonds, overseeing the cleanup of Harbor Square, and the design of the port’s pressure wash and runoff treatment facilities. As a result, the port is a green marina and a certified clean boatyard. “I have a passion for the port,” he said.
Johnston’s opponent is Susan Paine, who cited her six years of experience on the Edmonds School Board and her “passion for the environment and the Edmonds Marsh.” Paine has spent the past 25 years working municipal government, and the past decade has focused on land use and right-of-way issues. “So I understand the permitting process and also the regulatory sort of regime that is required for environmentally sensitive areas,” she said.
Port of Edmonds District 3 Commissioner
Incumbent commissioner Bruce Faires said that citizens should be proud of the port, which is not only financially stable but also brings tourists to patronize Edmonds businesses and “then go home, which is kind of what we want our tourists to do.” The Port of Edmonds is “the best managed port in the state of Washington, and I’m asking for your vote to keep it that way,” Faires said.
Challenging Faires is former Edmonds City Councilmember Lora Petso, who noted that she has been an elected official in the community for 22 years, including nearly 10 years on the Edmonds City Council. Petso said that running for the port commission “is a very important thing for me to do,” adding “it allows us to pick the course we want for Puget Sound and for our marsh, and that’s a big deal.” She also promised to prioritize “both economic development and environmental stewardship.”
Port of Edmonds Commissioner District 1
Angela Harris has been a business program manager at Microsoft for the past 12 years. She said she is successful in working with a variety of stakeholders because of her ability “to listen, to lead and collaborate.” She added she is excited to bring “fresh ideas,” along with her leadership and management experience, to the port commission.
Edmonds School District Director District 2
Incumbent Ann McMurray cited her 12 years on the Edmonds School Board, noting she has “become familiar with the complexities of school issues, from funding challenges to changing student and community demographics.” She noted that Edmonds “is no longer a predominately white district. As a board member, I will vote for policies that create intentional opportunities for diverse students, staff and community voices and perspectives to become an integral part of district decision-making.”
Challenger Mitchell Below said that what motivated him to run for school board was his experience as a new parent of premature twin daughters, who ended up in the neonatal intensive care unit, where “I witnessed a lot of families that did not have the advantages that we had” — including those who weren’t native English speakers and were struggling financially. “I saw running for the school board as the best way to reach out to those families in need,” he said.
Edmonds School District Director 4
Deborah Kilgore has a doctorate in education, and has worked as “a professor, a researcher and a scholar of learning in education.” A long-time school volunteer with three children, Kilgore noted that she has worked with diverse people over the years “who have very different life experiences from my own, and we all want the same thing. We all want a fair chance for our kids.” Factors that will help achieve that goal, she said, include reasonable class sizes and teacher workloads, “a little bit less time testing and a little more time learning” and parent involvement.
Cathy Baylor is a nationally certified music teacher and professional educator who said she “has chosen to be a teacher, despite the fact that it will never pay well, for one important reason: I believe that I can truly make a difference in this world if I can make a difference in the lives of children.” She has served as president of five education-based organizations during the past 30 years, “so I know from experience how to work on a team, build consensus, pull in outside resources and take action.”
Note: It was announced that Edmonds City Council incumbents Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Mike Nelson, and Edmonds Port Commissioner Fred Gouge, were unable to attend the event due to longstanding family vacation plans.
— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel