‘You’re the ones I’m working for,” Petso tells supporters at campaign kickoff

Councilmember Lora Petso with 1-year-old grandson Augustine.
Petso speaking to supporters gathered in the Hickman Park picnic shelter Thursday night.

Edmonds City Councilmember Lora Petso picked an appropriate setting for her campaign kick-off Thursday night– Hickman Park in Southwest Edmonds.

The park is just a short distance from the home where Petso and her husband, Colin Southcoate-Want,  run their actuarial consulting business. Many of the supporters who gathered for the event expressed their gratitude for Petso’s role in ensuring that City acquired the land from the Edmonds School District so the park could be created.

Petso, who lost her bid for re-election in 2003 but was appointed by the council in 2010 to fill a vacant seat, acknowledged to the group that her passion for parks has made her a target of critics who think she cares about little else. “You know what, if that’s the worst thing they can come up with to say during this election season, I’m a happy park liker,” she said. As if on cue, Petso’s 1-year-old grandson Augustine — toddling over from the nearby playground — appeared at her feet and she gathered him in her arms.

Petso, who is being challenged by political newcomer Darlene Stern, said she got into politics “by accident” 15 years ago when she ran for — and won — election as a commissioner for the Olympic View Water District. She has been re-elected to that position in 1995, 2001 and 2007. She is proud of her leadership role on the current council — serving as council vice president and also as chair of the finance committee. “It has allowed me at least in some part to help smooth things out with finance issues, with how the council operates,” she said.

“I hope there has been some noticeable improvement in the last year in how the council conducts their affairs because we really have worked hard on trying not to surprise people, trying to get some basic common sense practices in, and I hope it’s starting to show,” Petso added.

She admitted that the council’s recent combative discussions about whether to place property tax levies on the upcoming ballot “were an exception to a professional-looking council deliberation, but I will just plead the excuse that if you talk to any six or seven people in town and ask them to agree on the levy, it’s going to roughly resemble the council deliberations,” she said.

“It’s an young council and an inexperienced council,” Petso said, noting that with five years she has the second highest  seniority, behind three-term Councilmember Michael Plunkett. “It’s nice to have someone with some experience around and I think I can really serve you with that,” Petso said.

While many of the faces have changed since she was first elected in 1999, Petso said, two main issues have remained: building height limits — which she reiterated she strongly supports — “and trying to figure out how to pay for city services.” She noted that she favors two out of the three property tax levies that the majority of the council voted to place on the November ballot — $1 million for street maintenance and $500,000 for parks and building maintenance. Petso said she opposes the third measure — $1 million measure for city services — because it could be used to hire employees, and those workers might be laid off if the levy wasn’t renewed.

Petso reiterated her commitment to working for her constituents, noting “truly I am for us. I’m going to try my very best to stay out of political maneuvering over the next six or eight weeks while still protecting our interests.” Because she isn’t affiliated with a political party, Petso said she won’t be seeking their endorsement, “so I can’t draw on this party or that party for mailing lists and support and all the important things,” she said. “But the advantage of it is, you know that you’re the ones I’m working for.”

As Petso ended her remarks, Rich Senderoff, a member of the Edmonds Economic Development Commission, told the group that Petso’s opponent is relying on campaign speeches rather than substance and “for me, actions speak louder than words.”

“There are candidates in this election — Lora’s opponent — not any bit of public record — not one,” Senderoff said. “Not any testimony before council — zilch. Not any letters to the editor, or taking a position on any issue in the entire time that they have lived in this community. I know that she (Petso) supports neighborhoods and the unique parts of this community that people value, that make Edmonds not a city but a community, and that’s why I can support her versus the candidate she’s running against.”








  1. I learned a lot by going to observe an Edmonds City Council meeting. Listening and watching the members was eye opening and helped me decide who I would support in the election.

  2. Lora Petso is well known by a majority of Edmonds voters. Ms. Petso has been a candidate for city council in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2009. In those 4 elections she won the first time and was rejected by the voters the last 3 times.
    Ms. Petso was a strong and persistent advocate, she was not a council member at the time, for wanting the city to purchase the entire 11-acre site that previously was home to the Old Woodway Elementary School. The city council in its wisdom decided to purchase one-half of the site for Hickman Park – which is larger than the previous park that was there. Ms. Petso’s position was that the city should spend an additional $4 million to $5 million that the city really couldn’t afford. And with what’s happened in the economy the past few years, had she prevailed our city’s finances would be in even worse shape. And its scary to think that she may have prevailed had she been on the city council!

    Regarding Mr. Senderoff’s comments, Darlene Stern, who is challenging Ms. Petso, doesn’t have the city council experience possessed by Ms. Petso, but she has many other relevant qualities that will make her the better choice. I have met with Ms. Stern several times and have learned that she’s able to get up to speed on complex issues very quickly; she has the intellect and is willing to put in the time to make that happen.

    After the passing of her husband, our former police chief, Ms. Stern focused on carrying on his legacy. Much as he did, she worked to unite the main drivers of our community—public, civic and business. To that end, she is a director of the Chamber of Commerce and an honorary member of the Edmonds Rotary Club. She also serves on the board of the Edmonds Police Foundation supporting those that are dedicated to protecting us. And now she seeks to bring the public sector into the mix by serving on the Edmonds City Council.

  3. I do not know Ms Stern and I am sure that she is a very nice lady however I do know Lora Petso who has demonstrated time and time again that she knows what this community needs and actively gives of herself to help its citizens. When I was a member of the Economic Development Commission the biggest factor for commercial growth for Edmonds was found to be in Tourism, especially Sports related Tourism. Every week end thousands of parents of teenagers involved in baseball, soccer and football especially travel far and out of state to different games. What a terrible shame that the city council at the time totally lacked of vision and missed the opportunity for this kind of growth by voting to not buy the entire parcel at the Old Woodway school instead of the half and thus making more playing fields available. Play fields are sorely missing in Edmonds. When I organized and started a community garden for Edmonds citizens who do not have a garden or simply would like to have a plot to help the Edmonds Food Bank, Lora Petso bought a plot and tried her best to even have low cost water for the garden. She was right along all of us digging, planting and was a great supporter of the project. Lora Petso, Joan Bloom and Diane Buckshnis are in touch with the community and work hard to bring positive steps to make it a better community for all.
    Mr. Wambolt is completely and sadly out of touch with what this community needs which is why he was “rejected” to quote him by the community in his many bids at various offices. I urge all of you to support known values and assets such as Lora Petso, Joan Bloom and Diane Buckshnis. Edmonds need them for a brighter and less contentious future. They will not need to be brought “up to speed” and they have proven themselves already. They are the right choice for Edmonds.

  4. For those who do not know Ms. Larman, she is no longer a resident of Edmonds and her Edmonds home is for sale.

    And for the record, I was rejected by the voters only once.

  5. Sorry Ron, this is incorrect information. We still own our home in Edmonds and pay all taxes associated with it which still makes me a resident of Edmonds. We certainly will vote there if our home has not sold by then.
    Living part time in another community makes you see your own with different eyes. Your pettiness is such a waste of energy and sad!
    Edmonds is a wonderful city whose residents for the most part want to keep it pretty much the way it is, just better and better organized, with better communications between the leadership and the citizens, more openness and more honesty. I believe that once the hurdles of dealing with the previous administration have been resolved and once good honorable, hard working and smart people such as Mayor Cooper, Petso, Bloom and Buckshnis are on City Council Edmonds will have a chance to really go forward. Does Edmonds’ citizens want to remain in the same system as the previous administrations and with similar people sponsored by the previous leadeship or does Edmonds want to go forward with new, hard working, smart and honorable people at its helm. That is the real question and the choice is very clear..

  6. Laura Petso is by a country mile the best qualified and knowledgable of city politics when compared to Ms. Stern who undoubtedly is a fine lady, yet is a person with scant knowledge and understanding of what she is striving for.

  7. Ron B.:

    When I highlight your candidates’ track records you call my remarks nasty. It seems like you only like transparancy when your enemys’ are the subjects of the scrutiny.

  8. People, You have to remember it’s the citizens of Edmonds who will make the decisions not you.
    Try and make your comments short and sweet because some of us don’t want to read your long rehashed post.
    Have a great day. Where ever you live.

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