Height limits, economic development and the environment took center stage at the Edmonds Senior Center Monday night as all six candidates for Edmonds City Council gathered at a forum co-sponsored by the Senior Center and the Alliance for Citizens of Edmonds (ACE).
We have provided a very high-level overview below, but will be posting a video of the entire forum on My Edmonds News late Tuesday or early Wedneday — just in time for the arrival of general election ballots in mailboxes later this week. Remember that you also can watch our individual interviews with each council candidate, available under the Edmonds Election Watch 2013 tab on the home page.
At the forum, the candidates agreed on many of the issues discussed, including the need to further business development along the Edmonds stretch of HIghway 99 and the importance of partnerships in creating options for the aging Harbor Square Business Complex. The future of Harbor Square is uncertain following the Council’s decision last week to no longer pursue a set of redevelopment ideas prompted by a Port of Edmonds proposal.
But there were a few notable exceptions to that genial tone, mainly related to the perennial Edmonds hot-button issue of building heights. Position 1 challenger Randy Hayden accused incumbent Kristiana Johnson of voting to support taller buildings — a charge she firmly denied and then proceeded to explain all of her votes related to height issues since she was appointed to the seat in June 2012.
When the candidates had an opportunity to question each other, Position 3 incumbent Adrienne Fraley-Monillas suggested to challenger Ron Wambolt that he used to oppose taller buildings but has since changed his position. Wambolt also denied Fraley-Monillas’ assertion, stating that he opposes building height increases, particularly in areas of Edmonds where they are out of scale with the rest of the buildings in the neighborhood.
Wambolt then asked Fraley-Monillas to name one piece of council legislation that she has seen through from start to finish; Fraley-Monillas replied that her strength is in fostering consensus on council and listening to constituents.
Position 2 incumbent Strom Peterson reiterated his commitment to environmental issues, including his opposition to coal trains running along the Edmonds waterfront. His opponent, Al Rutledge, said that one of his first priorities after being elected to the council would be to acknowledge comments made by citizens who come to testify.