Wilson denies any deal for appointment to County Council seat

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.”

  1. I have read through all the applications for Mayor and came to some of the same conclusions as Diane T. I was very surprised as to how many applications were hand done. This isn’t High School it is a very important position. I was most impressed by Mr. Van Hollebeke’s application. He even had several recommendations from other people in the community. Almost as many as applications for the position.

    He may have stated that he does not currently plan to run for Mayor when it comes up for a vote but he has certainly put in much more effort into his application for the temporary position. He presented himself very professionally. He would have my vote.

  2. Mayor’s appointment:

    Although Mr. Van Hollebeke’s credentials are impressive, he has stated that he would not fight to keep an elected Mayor. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I believe in a representative government with checks and balances which was a condition of government my hero, John Adams, would not budge on. He was right. A City Manager does not provide for a representative government with check and balances. For that reason, I will not support Mr. Van Hollenbeke.

    Mr. Plunkett:

    Mr. Plunkett is also spreading lies that the Democrats are plotting against him. For those of you who do not know, Mr. Plunkett was the Chair of the 21st LD Republicans and is currently running a Republican PCO.

    Mr. Plunkett does not seems to remember that he has appointed two Democrats to the Council. The most notorious is Diane Buckshinis, who was endorsed by at least one Democratic Organization. The majority of the Council , without any apparent discussion, led by Mr. Plunkett, appointed her to Ms. Pritchard-Olson’s seat. Ms. Buckshinis has voted with the majority of the council, run by Mr. Plunkett, 100% of the time.

    Let me remind you that Mr. Wombolt, a Republican or one having Republican values, also sought appointment for that seat. He was considered only by Mr. Wilson and Mr. Peterson. Furthermore, Mr. Plunkett also voted to appoint Mr. Peterson to an open seat. Mr. Peterson also affiliates with Democrats.

    Another Democrat, Ms. Frailey-Monillas, has also voted 100% with Mr. Plunkett. She has supported the City Manager position and the purchase of Skippers.

    Mr. Plunkett is very good at playing to hysterics. However, once the facts are reviewed without bias, the truth is readily apparent. Mr. Plunkett controls the majority of the Council. And, there is no plot among local Democrats to work against him. His accusations regarding Mr. Cooper and Mr. Wilson are PATENTLY FALSE.

  3. It cannot be denied that Van Hollebeke would do a credible job as mayor.
    However, I prefer Cooper largely because Van H. has some baggage in my opinion. I believe in 1999 as a Councilman he joined Earling to approve a 4 to 3 vote proposed by Haakenson to raise building heights to 30′ boxes if they had pretty little curly cues around the edges called “modulations”. There was no public hearing. This started a decade of heights controveries which had laid largely dormant for nearly 20 years, and has been accompanied by numerous expensive legal expwnses laid on the public. since then, not to mention the large number of square box buildings in the bowl. And I beleive he participated in a “revolving quorum” illegal Council meeting during that time again with Haakenson and Earling, in which the fourth member waits outside and they then rotate after a period of time.

  4. To set the record straight, I vote for the person not the party. It is true that I end up voting for Republicans more often, but I also will continue to vote for a few Democrats if they remain, in my opinion, the better candidates.

  5. Does anyon really believe that D.J. Wilson wants more open space? Remember, D.J. wouldn’t even try to purchase land on our precious waterfront. He wants it developed. How can we trust this person with our precious county open spaces?

    D.J. is a developer backed council member who took $3000 from a Seattle based waterfront developer who wants 6 story buildings! He SAYS he’s for open space, but his action show something else.

  6. @Dave. I beg to differ. Not all land is suitable for conversion to “open space”, so failure to convert land of your choosing is not proof that others don’t want it. Land that is bordered by four lanes of traffic, train tracks, and a parking lot, and is smaller than a baseball diamond, a park does not make. Besides, who said it was going to be a park?
    Secondly, a contribution from a developer, years ago – how long do you intend to repeat this as an indictment of character? Is there a quid pro quo for contributions? If there is, that is illegal. If you have proof, get that to the PDC, now. If not, your actions are in violation of the PDC laws, and show poor decorum. What about developers who made the hideous “six pack” developments thrown up on 212th St SW – they donated to a few local campaigns, too. Why aren’t you hounding them, as they actually DID damage? Just because you (and Plunkett) took their money, doesn’t mean you’re responsible for what they did to my neighborhood. Right? So stop insinuating quid pro quo for contributions, as it cuts both ways.
    Please maintain your comments relevant to the issues at hand, so that we can all focus, vice having to go through the same campaign talk daily.
    At issue: is there a conspiracy wherein votes are being exchanged? I personally do not know, but I find it hardly credible. Who should be our next Mayor ? I’m waiting for the interviews, but am pleased with the list of contenders. County Council? Again, I’m waiting for the dust to settle a bit.

  7. Todd, offering excuses for the voting record of D.J. Wilson isn’t a good idea.

    Look at his record,

    D.J. Wilson took $3000 from a Seattle Waterfront Developer who is still seeking taller buidings on our waterfront.

    D.J. Wilson voted to shut the public out of the land-use process. Do we want someone who fears the public on the county council?

    D.J. Wilson opposed efforts to purchase land on the waterfront, even before all the information is in.

    D.J. Wilson is on the record stating a desire for taller buildings on the waterfront.

    Do we want a councilman on our county council who is in bed with developers, shuts the public out of the land-use process, opposes the purchase of open space, and wants taller buildings on the waterfront of Edmonds?

    Todd, would you want someone with this voting record in Everett?

  8. Dave, thanks. You didn’t answer my questions, which is sort of self-incriminating on your part. So, let’s take a stroll through your logic once again.

    – $3000 out of how big of a campaign budget? And this is supposed to buy his vote, in your opinion? That’s illegal, and kind of funny that you think it would happen. How much did you and Plunkett take from developers? (yes, I have the numbers, but I don’t care). It doesn’t matter – I don’t think votes were bought. My point was that you two took contributions from developers, those developers ruined a perfectly good street in my neighborhood, and no-one is blaming YOU, are they? Judge by actions. And there are no votes scheduled for taller buildings. I’ll tell you when there are, and we will see who comes out in support.

    – As for the “shut the public out” line. A vote opposing Title XX revisions was actually a vote to allow citizens to speak with their Council members regarding land use, and limiting risk of lawsuits against the City. Why would you oppose that? See, it’s all a matter of perspective. People who think differently than you aren’t evil, they just see things differently.

    – Land on the waterfront. The information wasn’t in? So, you voted to spend $100k of un-budgeted funds on a lark, after three months of secret meetings? If you recall, based on the record, the vote was made to make an offer to purchase. If the info was not yet in, how could you vote FOR making an offer? Were you that fast-and-loose with our public funds? Is $100k not real money now? Please. We can go back and revisit that debacle if you like, but we, as a community, need to focus on important issues ahead of us. Not a good example for you to bring up.

    – DJ can have all the desire he wants for tall buildings on the waterfront. The majority of the City doesn’t want tall buildings – but not everyone. To say DJ wants tall buildings is actually an endorsement. Diversity of viewpoints provides stronger decisions, so we need at least one dissenter on the Council to force some rigor in decision making. A technical guy like you understands the danger of group-think.

    Finally, your last line is a bold assumption. I have not yet decided whom to support for a County Council seat, as I stated. I want to learn more about the candidates first.

  9. Thanks Ray. I’ll consider that a compliment. Y’know, submariners have a tendency to want to see facts, and not decide things based on innuendo, or guilt by association. If we write a shipmate off based on innuendo, we’d quickly run out of shipmates! So that’s not naivete, it’s deciding based on truth instead of assumptions.

    — Now, go to 212th St, E of 5 corners, and look at those hideous developments crammed onto the lots there. The developer made major campaign contributions to Plunkett and Orvis. Plunkett and Orvis voted for land-use decisions that enabled those eyesores to be built. Now, does that mean that the votes were paid for? In your mind, yes. In my mind, no. It looks like a juicy conspiracy, but I don’t see it that way.

    — So, if you don’t see bought votes now, does that make you the naive one? Heck, these developers didn’t “propose tall buildings”, as DJ’s contributors did. These guys actually built these eyesores and ruined a whole street in our town. You going to get angry about that? I didn’t think so. There’re no bought votes. This is our small city, not DC.

    Do YOU make your campaign contributions expecting votes to change because of it? No. You give to those whose votes reflect your thinking. The “tall building developer” gave to DJ’s campaign, probably because he expected DJ to vote in favor of taller buildings, more so than his opponent. That’s not buying a vote.

  10. Ray,
    The only naivete showing is that Todd continues to provide well balance, logical thought to the table no matter how much others prefer to revel in their cocoon of ignorant pettiness and name calling.

  11. Just for the record, Plunkett and Orvis voted AGAINST the new zoning regulations at five corners. We felt four stories was too high.

    Is that why you don’t like the development there? It’s not high enough?

    And most of the development east of five corners was there before Plunkett and I were elected. I know, I used to live in Rustic Manner on 212th, which is actually a very nice development.

  12. Dave – apples and kiwis, friend. I’m talking about the brand new 6 packs (six units crammed onto one lot) built along 212th, S side of the street, E of 5 corners. Same ones that Ms Petso used as stark examples of poor practices recently with her photos.

    If you would please re-read my post, I said several times, that though this happened while you were on Council, I do not think that campaign contributions from this developer caused you to vote in support of the zoning that allowed 6 packs to be built. I was protecting you, not attacking.

    This was an example of how events that happen together (campaign donations, code changes, and construction), aren’t necessarily cause-and-effect.

    Nice attempt to work in building heights, though! On that subject, I appreciated your presentation on the use of setbacks and step-backs as a way to keep multi-story buildings from walling in a neighborhood. I think the 5 corners area would be a proper place to apply that theory, for all of the reasons you cited. “Taller” is not a good goal. “Appropriate for the neighborhood” is a better guideline. Four stories right up against a residential lot next door, probably not the best plan.

  13. I don’t think you’re trying to defend me, I think you’re making stuff up because you have choosen to sympathize with D.J. Wilson who has made some bad decisions. Once again, I voted against the new five-corners zoning. Look at the record. If you want to challenge me on a vote, give me the courtesy of knowing what vote it was, and at least quote the result accurately.

    Only D.J. Wilson took $3000 from Al Dykes, owner of the safeway property.

    D.J. Wilson also voted to shut the public out of the land-use process. As a result of the vote, folks who could speak to the council, could no longer speak. I find your take on this issue to be very deceptive. You’re better than that Todd.

  14. @Dave: there’s a difference between a discussion (which rhymes with percussion for a reason) and a conversation. This is devolving into a never-ending discussion. Sigh. Here goes, hopefully for the last time.
    – I didn’t mention your vote regarding Five Corners. Please re-read above for the properties mentioned. They’re East of Five Corners.
    – 3000 bucks was contributed. So what? See above for why I say that. Money doesn’t buy votes. If you say it does, then you’re indicting yourself. I think money follows votes, not the other way around – isn’t that what you believe in?
    – Your interpretation of Title XX’s meaning to the citizens is not the only one. See above. You have the right to your view – that using the Council for quasi-judicial land use proceedings gives citizens a “voice”. Others may have their view, that having Council members who take developer contributions making decisions, opens up the city to lawsuits – as borne out by several other communities. Also, that Council members would not be able to speak with citizens about land use as a matter of course, lest they end up having to rule on the issues. So, your way actually reduces the opportunities for folks to speak to the Council, due to conflict of interest.
    I offer that the Title XX is not cut and dry either way – it’s a tough call. So, don’t paint those on the other side as ‘wanting to deny access’. It’s a difference of opinion, not ideology.
    Lastly, I have sympathized with no-one in particular, and endorsed no-one. I saw unjustified attacks, and felt the need to respond. I will continue to respond as long as the unjustified attacks and inappropriate accusations and characterizations continue. Navy officers call it being a good “S**t screen”. Crude, but sufficiently descriptive.

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