The second Monday in October will be known as Indigenous Peoples Day in the City of Edmonds, according to a resolution unanimously approved by the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night.
The original resolution — proposed to the council by the Edmonds Diversity Commission — called for that day to be known as both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day, with the goal of “providing a more balanced representation of our region’s cultural history.”
However, after hearing several speakers during the public comment period address the issue — some advocating for the Diversity Commission proposal and others asking that Columbus Day not be included at all — the resolution was amended by Councilmember Mike Nelson to limit the city’s recognition only to Indigenous Peoples Day.
“In a sense what we’re doing is, we’re still going to have a federal holiday as Columbus Day, still recognized by the State of Washington,” Nelson said. “But in this city we are going to simply recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.” You can see the entire resolution with Nelson’s amendments (indicated by strikethroughs) here.
Among those speaking against linking the two days was Jeff Stone, an Edmonds resident and Edmonds School District educator. “The legacy of Columbus is a legacy of murder, of torture, of genocide. Indigenous Peoples Day is not about that,” Stone said.
Presenting another point of view — in favor of recognizing the days together — were teenage brothers Ethan and Cole Sargent, both students at Meadowdale High School and members of the Tlingit tribe from Alaska.
“I see it as a way of reshaping Columbus Day,” Cole Sargent told the council. “I’d like it to be on the same day but I don’t want to replace it. I want to focus it more on the people who were here before Columbus and recognize them.”
Cole’s brother Ethan quoted from his history teacher, who stated that “Wars are not won with swords, they are won with words,” Ethan Sargent added that “trying to wipe out Columbus Day and pretend that this guy didn’t exist, it’s like trying to put a Band-Aid on a broken bone — it’s not going to work. I think that if we focus on treating this as an educational opportunity to restructure how we teach children, how we teach adults, how we teach everyone the real truth, the real history, that is how we are going to win this and how we are going to reach what we are looking for.”
– Approved a request for $41,000 in additional funding to complete construction on the Edmonds Veterans Plaza. The council action followed a detailed presentation from Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite on the history of the project and the current challenges facing the project, much of which we detailed in our report on last week’s Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee meeting here.
– Had a discussion on City of Edmonds Sustainability/Climate Goals, including costs and staffing required to fulfill the commitments contained in the climate change resolution approved by the city council June 27. Resolution 1389 supports Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling’s endorsement of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, calls on the council to rededicate itself to partnering for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction while maximizing social and economic benefits. The resolution also has elements that involve assignments to city staff and the Mayor’s Climate Protection Committee, and also sets renewable energy goals.
Several residents offered their support during the public comment period for continuing this work, stating that it is up to cities and states to take the lead on climate action because the federal government under President Donald Trump will not.
During the council discussion, Development Director Shane Hope said staff hoped to get more guidance from the council regarding several items, including “who’s expected to do what,” resources needed and timelines. The resolution calls for an annual report by 2018 on current municipal and community-wide greenhouse gas emissions, and a recommendation to the council for a GHG emissions target for near and long term by July 1, 2018. It also calls for an update to the city’s Climate Change Action Plan, plus development of a work plan for renewable energy goals by Nov. 1, 2018.
Staffing needed to do this work would include one full-time person at $88,0091 plus office equipment and benefits for the first year, with a half-time position thereafter, Hope said.
In addition, the resolution calls for the city to use 100 percent renewable energy for municipal facilities by 2019 and 100 percent renewable energy for the city’s community electrical supply by 2025.
Hope asked for clarification if the renewable energy for municipal facilities included natural gas and Councilmember Mike Nelson, who included the amendments on these items as part of the June 27 plan, said that natural gas was not included. Hope also asked if the deadlines for the above items were flexible and Nelson said they were.
A discussion on the community’s electrical supply will have to wait until Oct. 17, when Snohomish County PUD will attend the council meeting and provide an update on its renewable energy plans, Public Works Director Phil Williams said.
The council also approved as part of the consent agenda the Edmonds Police Officers’ Association collective bargaining agreement, as well as an interlocal agreement with the Edmonds School District to continue a long-time arrangement to place up to three students into the Meadowdale Preschool program run by the Parks and Recreation Department.
– Heard Mayor Earling make a proclamation for Constitution Week in Edmonds Sept. 17-23, with Judy Lehman of the Daughters of the American Revolution accepting.
– Received a Snohomish Health District presentation by Interim Administrator Jeff Ketchel and newly appointed Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Beatty on updates, services and funding for the agency. Ketchel focused much of his report on how the health district is working to address the opioid epidemic in Snohomish County, and directed citizens to a new website created for that purpose: snohomishoverdoseprevention.com. Edmonds City Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, who chairs the health district board, demonstrated one of the agency’s new initiatives: a “lock bag” that allows people to safely secure their medications.
– Heard a biannual report on the city’s critical areas ordinance.
— By Teresa Wippel