City releases list of Edmonds Council applicants

The City of Edmonds on Tuesday afternoon released the names of the 18 applications for Council Position No. 1, which is being vacated by Councilmember Michael Plunkett. The full applications will be posted here as soon as the city makes them available, but meanwhile, here are the applicants:
Steve Bernheim
Lori A. Chrisman
Harry Gatjens
Richard David Gurtiza
Randy Hayden
Tad Helke
Roger Hertrich
Dan Hinrichs
Kristiana Johnson
Michael Mearns
William H. Patton
Alvin Rutledge
Steve Shelton
Natalie Shippen
Glenn Steinberg
Darlene Stern
Dick Van Hollebeke
Ron Wambolt

Interviews of candidates are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, and the City Council will consider nominations at the regular Council meeting on Tuesday, June 5.

  1. One name that sticks out at me is Michael Mearns. He is a great guy, free thinker, and an Edmonds farmer. He won’t be afraid to stand up for what he believes is best for the City of Edmonds.

  2. Interesting that Steve Berheim decided not to run but, is now deciding to apply. What’s that about. There ought to be a law that if you give up your seat, you should not be able to apply for another.

  3. I feel very proud to live in a town in which 5 former Council members are willing to put forth an effort to return to an often tough and punishing job in order to serve their community.

    My appreciation to ALL you would be Council member;: including former Council members and all the other aspirants! Good for each one of you fine citiizens!

  4. Is there any doubt who will be appointed? It seems that the “fix” is in, Bernheim will be appointed and the other great, hardworking, and able candidates will be politely shown the door! Mr. Bernhiem had his chance, served his term and decided not to run. Now he is deciding to be appointed.

    Maybe the City Council will think outside the box, and consider a fresh face (and hopefully fresh ideas with a double helping of common sense) when they make the appointment. Maybe…..

  5. Ray’s comments are the best. We have serious problems to work on and it looks like a number of people are willing to step up and try to help. Sadly our selection process is just 6 people. It would be nice to see how the public perceives these candidates but the official way would be to hold a primary and then a general election. All of this would be too costly. This vacancy while just announced was well along the way to happening before the last election and could have been part of the election process last year. Maybe My Edmonds News could structure a poll that would give people a chance to express their choices. Likely now that the list is known we will see lots of “campaigning” but that is not as helpful to give good thoughtful opinions to the 6 who will make the decision. Last time we went through the appointment process the discussion by the 6 people left a hollow feeling for me. Some of the reasons to vote against some candidates seemed lacking in thought. It would be and interesting process to have some polling done by MEN to see what people are thinking about the various candidates on the list.

    Again Ray, some good thoughts.

  6. Diane (T), Not sure I understand that Bernheim is the “fix” but I do like your fresh face idea and common sense ideas.

  7. The average council member seniority as recently as at the end of 2011 was 4 years 11 months. Now after the addition of two new council members, Joan Bloom and Frank Yamamoto, and with the upcoming departure of the council’s most senior member, Michael Plunkett, the average seniority will drop to only 2 years and 4 months.

    New council members have much to learn; it takes at least one year to become productive. With the urgent need to remedy the city’s financial woes, the last thing the city needs at this time is an “apprentice council member”. That’s why I have decided to apply for the vacancy. Obviously I am biased, but thinking objectively I believe that the council now has an abundance of “fresh faces”. What’s needed is a new council member who will be productive on day one.

  8. Ron W.,
    Experience can be good or bad, and it entirely depends on what one does with it. “Hitting the ground running” assumes that the candidates who have not previously served on the Council cannot make a difference effectively. That is a narrow view. Your knowledge of the Council’s working and knowledge of the issues are important in your candidacy but more important would be what you will do with that knowledge and experience.

    Assimilating into the Council well isn’t necessarily a good thing. There are serious financial issues facing the the City and what are the serious ideas to remedy the situation by this Council?
    A Metropolitan Parks District (a TBD for parks). Why? Can Edmonds not deal with the Parks and the Parks budget as a City, with some restraint and an eye toward maintaining the fabulous parks that we have? Taxes, which the MPD would impose, are revenue, but separate taxing districts “hide” such costs from the General City Budget. The TBD has done little to maintain our roads, and the issue are discussed by the Council, acting as the TBD in a separate meeting. The increase proposed included every project the Council could think of. It was a huge failure with the voters, as were the levy proposals. Now, the “group think”, is that let’s try it again with the Parks. Is that a “fresh idea”?
    The recent “whopper” increase for utility connection fees, is a “backdoor tax” which runs contrary to the stated desire of the Council to attempt to provide more affordable housing in Edmonds and has little chance of becoming the “cash cow” the Council hopes for but will raise the cost of new housing to the consumer by a considerable amount.
    Will the Council consider looking at reducing “consulting fees” and consider using the City staff as the professionals they are? Rather than argue that the salaries are too high, juxtapose extremely high cost of consulting fees with information that could be produced by the professional City staffers who are paid to produce the same information.
    Any budget that has no allowance for litigations which are known, is a budget that is smoke and mirrors. It was, after all, those smoke and mirrors budgets that balanced only because maintenance was deferred on our roads, public buildings and police and fire services. (The recent burglary issue in Edmonds should highlight the need for a crime prevention officer, but it has not. Would a crime prevention officer have made a difference? Probably more to the general public than the $100K spent on the “visioning” project consultants, the consulting fee for the Westgate and 5 Corners “visions” and so on).
    The workings of the Council aren’t mysterious (minus the current affinity for Executive Sessions). The budget is what it is (no matter the accounting method). Fresh ideas and common sense should be primary in considering the selection of a Council member. And the first consideration should be someone who has the expertise with financials to be able to think clearly through the numbers, make sense of them and act upon those realities.

  9. Diane:
    I’ll just say that I agree with your concerns about the many issues you’ve listed, and that I said nothing about “assimilating into the Council well”.

  10. Whereas I agree that there is an urgent need to remedy the city’s financial woes, I strongly believe the City’s most urgent need is to correct and update its Code. The City represented during the February 2-3, 2012 City Retreat that the Code rewrite is a major issue that needs to be addressed.

    I appreciate that the City has started work on this challenging process. I hope the urgency and importance is recognized by all.

    The following is from the City’s Code, Chapter 2.01 – Mayor:

    2.01.010 Duties.

    The mayor shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the city, in charge of all departments and employees, with authority to designate assistants and department heads. The mayor shall see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced and that law and order is maintained in the city, and shall have general supervision of the administration of city government and all city interest. [Ord. 2349 § 2, 1983].

    My great concern is how can any Mayor see “that law and order is maintained in the city” when it is widely known that the City’s code contains many errors and inconsistencies.

    The City has no way of knowing how much of our city’s financial woes are directly or indirectly related to the City’s Code problems. I fear very significant taxpayer money as well as citizen’s private resources have been wasted for years directly or indirectly related to the long acknowledged problems with the Code.

    Please read the following comments found in the October 25, 2005 City Council meeting Minutes:

    October 25, 2005:

    Councilmember Dawson asked what the $140,000 for the Zoning Code update included and why it was necessary to do it now. Development Services Director Bowman commented he had been describing the need to update the Zoning Code since he was hired in 2000. The update would be a 2-year process; the $140,000 would be used to hire a consultant to assist with developing the rewrite of the code. He noted even the simple Zoning Code amendments the City’s limited staff has developed recently have consumed a great deal of time; therefore it was necessary to have the update outsourced. He acknowledged there would need to be further discussion with the Council regarding policy before the rewrite began. The City’s code dated to the 1980s and piecemeal amendments make it difficult to use and administer.

    Councilmember Dawson asked how the $140,000 cost was determined. Mr. Bowman answered that was staff’s estimate of the cost to rewrite the code. He recalled the cost to rewrite the Critical Areas Ordinance with the assistance of a consultant was $100,000.

    I hope the City Council appoints a councilmember committed to finishing the long overdue Code rewrite.

  11. Steve Bernheim was a terrific councilmen. He actually didn’t speak until he had something to say that made sense, go figure, but Pleeez give the council members some credit for individual thinking. Nothing is fixed and the game is not rigged.
    Ex councilman Wambolt was a very effective member of the council. His only problem was that he is to honest. People would rather handle a stinging insect then listen to the truth about something that goes against them.
    Dick Van Hollebeke was a great council person and would have been a good Mayor if long past health issues were not a factor. To my way of thinking over half the people on the list would do a good job and I don’t know about a third.
    About hiring consultants. We have farmed out Millions of $$ in consultant fees over the years to tell us what we already know or what we could be doing for ourselves.
    The hiring of consultants often is a CYA method used by the hiring body to create the illusion of progress while not taking any accountability for the end result.

  12. Ray said it well in Comment #3. We are very fortunate to have so many well qualified applicants who have a passion for our City and are applying for this difficult, demanding position. I would like to note that during my time as a staff member at the City I was fortunate to work with many great people who volunteered their time to work on commitees and work groups. As the Staff lias and later a member on on the Transportation Committee I worked with over 20 different volunteers. Three members later became Councilmembers and 1 former councilmember served on the committee as well. All terific people. However if I had to cite the hardest working most productive member of all those committees and work groups, it would be an easy choice, Kristiana Johnson. Kristiana is very bright, very knowedeable regarding municipal affairs (she worked for many years as a planner for a municipality), she is an excellent listener, now serves as a Planning Board member and will make a great Councilmember.

  13. I, too, want to thank the people on that list for stepping forward.

    And, a bit off the subject, a note for Ron B.: in November, Forbes ranked Washington no. 7 (right after 6th-place Texas) in their Best States for Business list.

  14. I think we all need to support the City Council and Mayor Dave in their process to select a new City Council member. If you have ever been in a position to hire then you will understand that this is a difficult time because, unfortunately there can be only 1 winner. Form Steve Bernheim to Ron Wambolt, this is quite an impressive list. Whether a candidate is a former Council member or not, if that person has the qualifications that is necessary to lead, immediately, then the Council will do the right thing. We need tio quit living in the past, especially when it comes to making public comments. This is what I have been trying to say about a lot of you in Edmonds, move forward? Quit worrying about shoula,coulda woulda! The negative rhetoric that is diguised as “blogging” keeps the old wounds from healing. I hope we can show sevility and good sportsmanship. Why don’t we talk about the fecal runnoff from the dog park into the sound and a nearby creek? Now thats worth blogging about!
    Have a great Edmonds kind of day!
    Ron Smith

  15. So, questioning why a Councilperson did not seek re-election in November, turns around and applies for the open Council seat in May is negative blogging. Trust the Council.

    Okay, and your beef with the fecal run off from the dog park into the Sound? The Council are handling that (and approved the dog park too!). ” Woulda, coulda, shoulda.” Move forward, trust the Council to do the right thing. Stop worrying. Quit living in the past, the dog park is a done deal.

    By the way, my posting was specifically about Mr. Bernhiem. The other candidates for the position are a quite talented pool, and those who have previously served have been away long enough to bring a fresh outlook to the Council, if appointed.

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