For a guy who’s had a hard time getting a majority of people to vote with him on just about any Edmonds City Council issue lately, D.J. Wilson is getting a lot of credit for being able to influence the upcoming Council vote to decide Edmonds’ next mayor.
Rumors have been circulating that the only reason Wilson provided the fourth vote at last week’s City Council meeting to appoint Lora Petso to a vacant council seat, was to ensure that Petso would return the favor by voting for Wilson’s preferred mayoral candidate Mike Cooper.
Wilson is supporting Cooper, the story goes, because Cooper is a current Snohomish County Councilmember. If Cooper becomes mayor, it opens up a spot on the County Council, a position that Wilson would like to have.
Wilson has made no secret of the fact that he would like to be appointed to the County Council post, but he vehemently denies any connection between that and his vote for Petso. In fact, he calls the whole story, which has been attributed to fellow Councilmember Michael Plunkett, as “unfounded hysterics.”
“There is no deal,” Wilson said. “Anyone who follows the City Council knows that if I say one thing, people on the council do the opposite. Just because it’s a rumor out there that Michael is promoting doesn’t make it true.”
And besides, even if Cooper does end up being the winning candidate out of the eight who have applied for the mayor’s job, there is no guarantee that Wilson will be appointed to the seat.
Once there is a vacancy, precinct committee officers from District 3 (the council district that Cooper now represents) meet to pick their top three candidates for the appointment, ranking them in the order of preference. Those choices then go to the full Snohomish County Democratic Caucus, which approves them and sends them on the County Council. The Council, in turn, interviews all three ranked choices and makes the final appointment, with the winner needing three out of four councilmember votes.
Wilson said Sunday that he has been busy calling PCOs to ask for their support, and so far has 14 committed to vote for him if Cooper indeed gets the mayoral appointment and resigns. But Wilson also noted that another official interested in the potential vacancy. Lynnwood City Councilmember Stephanie Wright happens to be married to Richard Wright, chair of the 21st District Democrats (and the 21st legislative district is where many of the PCOs belong).
So why does Wilson, who is in his first City Council term, want to move to the County Council? He said he’s excited about the possibility of immersing himself in the county’s growth management efforts, and believes there is “a lot more I can bring to the table in terms of protecting open space.” He’s particularly interested in furthering the concept of voluntarily transferring development rights from privately owned farmland, forestland and natural areas to areas that can accommodate additional growth, and he believes that the Highway 99 area of Edmonds could benefit from such an approach.
But if the County Council isn’t in the cards, Wilson said he isn’t feeling worn down by his City Council service, despite recently being on the losing end of most council votes.
“The thing we have going for us in Edmonds is a sincerely engaged electorate that produces an engaged council,” Wilson said. “If I’m on the council in the future, elections change things. Even if things go my way less often in this council, it could change after the next election.”