Former member Lora Petso back on Edmonds City Council

Former Edmonds City Councilmember Lora Petso was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the City Council Tuesday night, receiving the necessary four-vote council majority. Casting votes for Petso to replace Dave Orvis, who resigned for personal reasons in May, were Councilmembers Michael Plunkett, Steve Bernheim, D.J. Wilson and Diane Buckshnis.

“I think it’s important to have experience, and Ms. Petso brings experience,” Buckshnis said following the vote.

An attorney, Petso served on the council from 2000-2004 before losing her seat to the late Councilmember Peggy Pritchard Olson. She ran again in 2009, when she and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas beat out incumbent Ron Wambolt in the primary. Fraley-Monillas defeated Petso in the general election.

Petso was sworn in and took a seat on the council immediately after the vote. She made it clear, however, that she would abstain from most votes during the evening because she hadn’t had an opportunity familiarize herself with the issues. During a break in the meeting, she said she looks forward to using her strong analytical and budget skills to assist the council in navigating the city’s upcoming budget challenges.

In other significant action Tuesday, the Council voted 5-1 (Plunkett opposed, Petso abstaining) to raise the city’s water and stormwater rates to cover the costs of improving the city’s water system infrastructure (including aging water pipes and insufficient water pressure for firefighting) and to meet increasing regulatory requirements related to stormwater runoff.

Starting Aug. 1, rates will go up 7.5 percent for water and 8 percent for stormwater, and will increase an additional 7.5 percent and 8 percent respectively for the next two years (Jan. 1 of 2011 and 2012). Sewer rates will remain unchanged. The average Edmonds utility bill will increase $8.76 per month under the new rate structure.

After showing photographs of the city’s deteriorating water mains, City Public Works Director Noel Miller said that the city must invest in its infrastructure to ensure its reliability and to protect it “for future generations.” In the case of stormwater, the city is facing an increasing number of federal, state and local regulations that require extra staff to ensure compliance. In addition, the city needs more staff time devoted to educating citizens about how their everyday actions— from washing their cars in the driveway to using weed killer on their lawns— results in contaminated stormwater runoff that travels into area lakes, streams and Puget Sound.

The council also approved an update to the city’s storm and surface water comprehensive plan that includes funding for a variety of projects that address stormwater runoff. Councilmember D.J. Wilson, who founded the multi-jurisdictional Lake Ballinger/McAleer Creek Watershed Forum to address pollution issues in the lake, asked that the budget for Lake Ballinger-associated projects be increased from $40,000 to $100,000 a year.

Also on Tuesday, the council:

– Voted 6-0 (Petso abstaining) to support amendments to the city’s sign code that will clarify the definition and criteria for wall graphics and murals, including murals planned by the Edmonds Mural Society.

– Appointed six members to the eight-member council levy committee, which will be charged with helping the council determine content and direction for levy likely to go before voters in early 2011. Petso requested to delay her pick until she had a chance to study the candidates who applied, and the eighth selection will be delayed until a new mayor is appointed. Those appointed, and the council members who chose them, include: John Reed (Fraley-Monillas), John Carlin (Plunkett), Bill Vance (Peterson), Evelyn Wellington (Wilson), Darrol Haug (Buckshnis), and Harry Gatjens (Bernheim). The council also approved specific direction for the levy committee, which can be found by visiting the July 6 council agenda here.

  1. The city council continues to honor the memory of Peggy Pritchard Olson:

    Ms. Olson was much beloved by the entire town. Her constant giving to the community was an inspiration to us all. She wore a button that said “Edmonds Loves Peggy.” She was one of the great civic leaders of Edmonds.

    Our city council shows their respect for Peggy in an odd way. First they ignore her express wishes and appoint Diane Buckshnis to the positioned vacated by her death. Then they follow this insult up by appointing the woman Peggy beat in the election in 2003.

    For a group who claims to be so involved in the history and heritage of Edmonds, they have pretty short memories.

  2. M Young..they claim to care about the heritage and history of Edmonds?? Are you kidding me? My family has been Edmonds residence for over 65 years and we have never witnessed a city council this dominated by people who do not care about this town..only about their individual else do you explain their quoted “vision” of edmonds as a bird watching capitol, or an eco-friendly town light on tourism? Or to change over 100 years of a mayoral system so they can appoint and control their own manager? I have abstained from the politics of this town because of friendships on both sides of the political fence..but that stops now…”appointing” an individual who this town has TWICE said no to in the elections..what a slap in the collective faces of this community…enough is enough..I will be organizing a “take this town back” group and I assure you come next election these jokers will be history…btw shame on you Wilson!

  3. Micheal, I agree with you . I would be happy to join your group. All the four who voted for Petso did was follow a politcal agenda that has nothing to do with the best interest of Edmonds now we have two council persons who the voters of Edmonds resounding said no to. Who knows what will happen when they vote for mayor I also totally agree with on Wilson nothing but politcs

  4. Mr. Young,

    C’mon, we know you don’t like Ms. Petso because she opposes taller building and she supports acquiring more land for parks. She also won’t tolerate the public being excluded from quasi-judicial hearings.

    Why don’t you just say you disagree with her, rather than getting all bitter.

  5. @Dave: Once again you strive to re-frame the argument. Then you follow that up with some ad hominom insinuations, make sweeping generalizations, beg the question, and come to an irrelevant conclusion. You are a walking encyclopedia of logical and rhetorical fallacies. Try making a logical argument for once instead of spouting rote inanities. Stop flogging the dead horse that is building heights. The only person talking about it is you and you are starting to sound like rain man.

    If you want to talk about bitter, take a hard look in the mirror.

  6. How about, instead of saying everything will be better, or worse, given the most recent Council appointment, we wish them the best and offer the Council all of the support we can muster?

    The Council’s job ain’t easy. But arguing about the personalities (either by supporting or criticizing them personally) doesn’t lend any support to getting the job done of straightening out our City operations, bringing people to Edmonds, and reinvigorating our town. I’m being pragmatic vice realistic, I know, but we all need to step up our game quite a bit to survive in this economy.

    When a Council decision is upcoming – email your Council members with your thoughts. When the Council makes a decision, let them know, here and elsewhere, what you thought of their decision. But we must allow them to learn from their mistakes, and count on them to grow as they gain more experience.

    And so what if Ms. Petso lost two elections – I am counting on her growing from that experience, and doing something different to regain the confidence of the voters. To write off her future contributions is to write off our City, at this point. Edmonds needs to move forward.

  7. In answer to Dave Orvis;

    When a building heights issue comes up, then that issue will be relevant. As it stands, we have a strict code that restricts building heights, which means we’ll get ample warning before any action to relax those restrictions. I’m on the Planning Board, and I’ll tell you when that happens, so that we can all see who shows up to speak in favor of tall buildings.

    Until then, your continuous use of “tall building people” as an epithet designed to stifle debate and inspire fear, is 100% irrelevant. We have real issues at hand, and this serves only to distract.

  8. Calling all the funny people above: Dave Orvis is an prime example of a proud and honorable citizen who served us well for ten years as a Councilman. You would do well to emulate some of his characteristics.
    First, perhaps you might consider being frank about the issues you believe in, instead of dancing around them with your petty character assasination attempts whenever someone disagrees with you. Secondly, you should discard the snarky commernts you make ad nauseam as that practice only diminishes you, and severely so, in the minds of others.
    Thirdly, you might look for ways that you can serve and better your community rather than striving to serve your own angry and aelfish interests.
    In summary, GROW UP!

  9. Mr. Young,
    You’re not fooling anyone, you’re upset because you are not getting you’re on development in Edmonds. You wanted taller buildings in MPOR, you didn’t get them. You wanted taller buildings in downtown, you didn’t get them. You want taller buildings on the waterfront, and I hope you fail their too. Lora Petso does help your cause, so you’re upset. Let’s just be honest.

    Heights on the waterfront is still a major issue in Edmonds, and as long as politicians who accept $3000 dollars from waterfront developers (like D.J. Wilson) are still on the council, taller buildings will always be an issue. Lora Petso’s appointment is not good news to these folks.

  10. Shoot, bad grammar on my part: redone with corrections

    Mr. Young,
    You’re not fooling anyone, you’re upset because you are not getting you’re way on development in Edmonds. You wanted taller buildings in MPOR, you didn’t get them. You wanted taller buildings in downtown, you didn’t get them. You want taller buildings on the waterfront, and I hope you fail their too. Lora Petso does NOT help your cause, so you’re upset. Let’s just be honest.

    Heights on the waterfront is still a major issue in Edmonds, and as long as politicians who accept $3000 dollars from waterfront developers (like D.J. Wilson) are still on the council, taller buildings will always be an issue. Lora Petso’s appointment is not good news to these folks.

  11. Mr. Martin – You are the master of “petty character assassination attempts whenever someone disagrees with you.” Pot, meet kettle.

    Dave – Again, give the dead horse a break. If you ever feel possible to have an intelligent debate, I’m there. However, you consistently make logical errors in your rhetoric with which no high school student would pass a civics class. You re-frame arguments and answer them yourself.

    I am not a developer and I have no money to build your bigger buildings. I own a house and three small, very small, businesses in Edmonds. So you can stop acting like I am a part of Dr. Evil’s plan to destroy Edmonds. The fact is you and I disagree about what is right for the future about Edmonds.

    In your words, let’s just be honest. For years you have simply been unable or unwilling to engage in a real discussion to discuss those differences. You resort to name calling and disingenuous twisting of the truths to attack those who do not believe in what you do. A few hundred years ago you and other small minded people would have been burning women as witches because your crops failed. The times change, but the danger behind narrow-minded, pigheaded, self righteousness never changes.

  12. Michael,

    I stopped reading your response after the phrase “intelligent debate”.

    Look, I know you don’t like Lora’s beliefs. Fine, why can’t you just say you disagree with her. It has nothing to do with Ms. Olson. You dissagree with Lora because she’s a small town charm person not a “wreck and build it bigger person” like yourself.

  13. Dave Orvis -I stopped reading your response after the phrase “intelligent debate”.

    That does not surprise me. It is good to know one’s limitations.

  14. After reading the above posts it is no wonder our beautiful town is in trouble..I will definitely send this link to other citizens so they can see it for themselves..Incredibly ideas on how to get our budget balanced, how to generate revenues for our city, just childish back and forth..reminds me of a council meeting..if council expects to get a levy passed with this “vision” and pettiness I guarantee you it will not happen..every conversation going forward should begin “I believe we can create necessary revenues, provide services by doing…” the building height rhetoric is so yesterday..if I presented a study showing that raising building heights by 5ft would add to small town charm and tax revenues would you all then agree we need to do something? And if not does that mean you are against Edmonds having a small town charm? The arguement is so ridiculous..I am a lifetime resident, don’t own any commercial buildings..all i want is for this town to be solvent, great place to raise kids/retire to,and to be governed by folks who feel the same..that is not the case and unless something changes we are in for some very difficult times

  15. Mr. Burdett,
    I have never believed that adding height would ever add tax revenue to the city. How’s does ruining the small town charm of Edmonds increase the draw of folks to our fair city?

    Studies have also shown that historic preservation is the key to economic development.

    Please share all this with your friends, the public has not been supporting height limit increases.

  16. I’ve only been a resident of Edmonds for 11 years but for those 11 years it’s the small town charm that’s keep me here. I fully agree with Mr. Burdett, if the above banter is any indication how our council is run we’re in deep trouble! I’ve long been interested in being a part of the council; with the comments written here I’m not sure if I’d rather not be amongst the junior high behavior or take it as the #1 reason to jump right in and help get it back in line. Moreover, I’m here to support the town I love – Yost Pool is a prime example of our community rallying behind what they feel and love is a part of our history; what’s good for our families. We have so much to be proud of in Edmonds, finding a common ground, electing voices, the people WANT and improving what’s broke should be the only issues on the table, not some petty personality disorders that seem to have affected judgment. I will hold fast to my high hopes and continued love for the city of Edmonds and pray our “leaders” figure it out.

  17. So, anyone who talks about small town charm and opposes height increases has “personality disorder”, is a “junior high school student”, is not talking about “relative issues.”

    BTW, no one on the blog chain is on the council, so how does this get linked to how council debate goes.

    Look, this is the same old stuff, and I’m not intimated by it. Call me what you want, I am going to about small town charm, keeping our limits, and expanding parks.

  18. @Joleen;
    You are needed. Your participation is wanted. And you seem to have the same vision as many of us – a modest vision of keeping Edmonds’ best characteristics, and working to fund it in a reasonable manner. Without alienating newcomers!
    There are many avenues for participation – simply communicating with your Council members about relevant issues would be a great first step. Having a diversity of inputs leads to stronger decisions by them. They’re not of the “junior high” mentality – that was the exchange above – no Council members on that roster.
    There are openings on the Planning Board that will be announced soon – perhaps you could put your name in the hat for that. (that’s where I’ve chosen to start my civic engagement). Gives you a whole different perspective on debates like this, as the Planning Board screens most issues before the Council gets them.
    You can also run for Council. There are several seats up next year. In any case, you can email me at if you’d like to chat about it more. Don’t just pray for leaders, you can help them succeed,… or… you can be one.

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