Letter to the Editor: Councilmember Mike Nelson’s conflict of interest



An open letter to the Edmonds City Council and Mayor Earling:

Earlier this year, Mike Nelson was appointed to the city council to fill the vacant position created by the departure of Strom Peterson. Later, it comes to light that Mr. Nelson is “Executive Director” of the Service Employees international Union (SEIU). (Most of the employees of the city of Edmonds are SEIU members.)

My question is: Did the mayor and the city counsel know about Mr. Nelson’s SEIU affiliation before he was appointed, or did Mr. Nelson withhold this pertinent information until after his appointment?

It would seem to be a conflict of interest, to have an official of the SEIU sitting on the city counsel.

Cliff Ruthrauff

24 Replies to “Letter to the Editor: Councilmember Mike Nelson’s conflict of interest”

  1. Hey Ron! Great to see your comments again. Hope you are doing well.
    About Mr Nelson, he just abstained on the new contract in the last council meeting but you would have to have know what the item he pulled from the consent agenda was ( it was the contract). He dos not give a reason for his abstaining. His conflict is an open one and one which he told Teresa in his interview he consulted with the City Attorney on before his appointment. So, it isn’t a secret but in my opinion,it is a problem since all the negotiation are in executive session where the public cannot know what his involvement in those session is or isn’t.


  2. Thank you, Diane; I’m doing good.

    Mike Nelson was appointed to city council in March of this year. It should be noted that although there were several other clearly more qualified applicants for the open position, councilmember Petso chose to vote for the selection of Mr. Nelson. One more reason to vote in the current election for her well-qualified opponent, Neil Tibbott.


  3. I love this time of year! Let the politics begin! We are in the home stretch of this election cycle! 3 weeks to go! So, the above remarks all make sense except for the initial one. One of the most important things you have to remember is to “GET YOUR FACT”S STRAIGHT” ! When innuendo’s are made like the Mayor knew that Mike Nelson was affiliated with the SEIU and Mike was trying to hide this? “Come on, man”! To make an accusation that Mr. Nelson has a hidden agenda is to say he is part of the Monillas-Bloom-Petso clan on the current council. Do you really think he want’s to be mentioned in the same air space? This is the type of verbiage that perpetuates that the entire City of Edmonds and all their employees are “corrupt”.
    You see, this is what I’m talking about. The minute you start saying things publicly you need to be prepared to present the “fact’s” and “nothing but the facts”. It is not whether someone has done or not done something but it is the mere accusation that can taint and ruin a reputation. “Aren’t you sick of this”?
    The City of Edmonds has a Great Mayor! It is a privilege for the City of Edmonds and all of us Citizen’s to see the progress that is being made. Do you remember what the climate was 3-4 years ago? I do! The City Attorney’s office does a fantastic job covering their legal arena. The one area that needs improvement is The City Council. When you have Council Members litigating the City for frivolous reasons, who picks up the tab for that? Does that mean we have to do without snow removal services so that we can pay outside attorney’s fees? Does it mean that our Council is so inept that they need “counseling” services to play well with each other? Does this mean that almost every time there is a vote for something good in this City that the vote is “blocked” 3-3? Or it get’s “tabled”?
    I am not making this up! I am passionate about this City. I go to Council meetings and I observe. I take a pulse of what is happening. I am one of many who come to Council meetings and see the same “shameful display” meeting after meeting! Our City deserves better! Our Community deserves better! There are very good people on the City Council. All were elected by the Community of Edmonds voters. Each candidate possesses “talents” that should be used to better the City. You should leave the office better than when you arrived! This hasn’t happened! The City Council needs a change!
    It is “Time for Change”!
    These are my facts as I have seen them 1st hand. I’m not telling any of you anything that hasn’t happened. This is just my “opinion”.
    Let me reiterate, I love this time of year! I had a conversation with one of my son’s just recently about what it means to vote. My son said that “my vote does not count”! I said to him, “do you know what an honor it is to be able to vote”?
    So, it doesn’t matter who you want to vote for. We all have choices! The choices you make today will affect the future going forward. Make an informed choice! There are very good candidates and incumbents alike running for the Council positions. Make your vote count!
    I don’t know if you can tell who I am voting for but it is my pleasure to work on the “Tibbott for Edmonds” campaign. Neil Tibbott would be a great choice for the Council Position#7. Why, do I say? You see, everything that I wrote above will not happen on Neil’s watch! Neil; loves this City and all he want’s to do is serve and find solutions to perplexing problems. When I think of Neil, I think of integrity and commitment to excellence. I think of a man of “Faith” who has mentored me along the way. He is my friend, my brother and my neighbor. I have watched his family grow into some really “cool” kid’s (especially Nate). Neil’s Wife, Margaret, she keep’s Neil grounded. Neil has truly been blessed!
    What better way to show your support for Neil than to vote for him on November 3rd! “Go Team Tibbott”!!!!!

    Ron Smith


  4. We are a democracy of We The people, first and formost……….not “we” of a particular religion, or any religion for that matter…..The Pew Rearch Center shows in their latest polls that Washington state is almost evenly split between Christians and those that are either not Chritians and non belivers or other religions. Across our country, Pew shows a decline in Christian believers and an increase in other faiths such as Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, etc. and other non affiliated or non belief growing…….

    Sooooo, with all due respect to Christianity, Jesus and God, this does not represent ALL the people.

    As Mr. Tibbott (I guess referred to at Christian religious sites online as an ordained minister, hence “Dr. Tibbott:” easy to fully research online ) is a Christian minister and a “church planter” and as the Chair on the Planning Commision for the City of Edmonds, I hope Mr. Tibbott recused himself if he was a part of any meetings that had to do with the recent purchase of the Edmonds Conference Center by a church as opposed to the city purchasing the building for any number of uses. ………just cehecking as Mr. Tibbott is referred to as a “church planter”……….and this new coming church appears that it will be a new church with a new combination of two.

    We have a separation of church and state in our Constitution and unless I have missed something here, the first allegiance to a Chrstian minister is to their church, God and Jesus. …………One need only look at the many Christian ministry websites Mr. Tibbott is and has been involved with…….that to me would create an unneeded confict of interest for our city government that is supposed to represent ALL people……. A former recent Mayor saying that Edmonds is a faith based (usually a reference to Christians ) I believe according to recent polls is simply not true and is a devisive comment in my book.

    I also have to say that with all the law breaking, rules, etc. I have seen here, I was shocked at the number of churches we already have………all tax free, of course

    I see a system here that in my opinion has included a lot of wink/wink, back door deals and the breaking of laws, rules, regulations and quesionable ethics……….in my opinion

    Thats what I see and I see the few that have stood up and questioned any of this. ……those that asked the questions
    ……those few that have asked the questions regarding ethical matters……

    And for those that believe Im a heathen and need to be “saved”, I grew up in the Lutheran Church and am very spiritual, thank you very much

    Again, we need people in our government that ask the questions for all the people and believe in the rule of law and consider all the people in every decision they make


  5. Oh, and by the way we do not need any religion in our government process any more than a President of a union running our government……

    Clearly conflicts of interest and not representative of ALL people under the circumstances.

    Alvin Rutledge will represent all people and will work for transparency, PUBLIC SAFETY and maintaining present building height restrictions. He is clearly for all the citizens and the city of Edmonds. He has also been a grand community volunteer!…….Plain and simple.
    That’s what we need…..uncomplicated…….no complications


    1. Like most of us, Ms. Ryder, you have stated that you want our government to be transparent. So I find it ironic that you appear to be a strong supporter of councilmember Petso.

      Perhaps you are not aware that Ms. Petso has not provided voters any information about her campaign finances. Her filing with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) indicates that she has chosen the Mini Reporting option – which means that she will raise and spend no more than $5,000, and therefore is not required to file reports on the contributions that she receives or on her expenditures. However, to provide transparency to voters, candidates usually file those reports even when they have chosen the Mini Reporting option. For example, councilmember Mesaros has chosen Mini Reporting but is being transparent by reporting contributions and expenditures.


  6. Sorry!!!!
    Wow! I would really hate to be on your bad side? I apologize if I offended you. My intent was not to offend anyone. My intent was just some facts. You are right about separation of religion and politics. That is a personal, democratic point-of-view. I applaud your passion. When did I use the word “Christian”? You see, this is what I was talking about in my reply earlier that if you don’t have facts and you make up things to make yourself feel better at someone else’s expense. Now if I were to publicly state this to everyone and just made this up about you, then I could be considered somewhat of a hypocrite.
    Again, my sincerest apologies. I was just telling everyone why I supported Neil Tibbott for Council Position #7.
    PS: I have heard of Alvin Rutledge and from what I hear, he is an honorable person with a respected reputation.


  7. I have already listed the links for the sites for Mr. Tibbott’s ministry duties as a minister and “church planter”. previously here. “Church Planter” is a direct quote from the sites regarding Mr. Tibbots. I found no other sites for Mr. Tibbott except for Christian Ministry sites and as he is a minister, this was not surprising.

    I guess I’m wondering WHY I am “spew venom” mentioning that Mr. Tibbott is a minister. The facts are Mr. Tibbott is a minister, simple as that.

    You can find the links to this information and Mr. Tibbott at this site, as I listed the links before, speaking of facts. …….

    We have a clause in our Constitution regarding SEPARATION of church and state…..very simple

    Separation of church and state is not a “personal” view……This is in our Constitution!


  8. I took an oath to defend both the wise and ignorant of this country. Honor. Courage. Commitment. Those are not just words, but a way of life for me. And while I will defend those who choose not to believe in God, I am pleased to report He was very much present while I was in uniform. Press on Tibbott. You have my vote.


  9. I am not making a judgement on the qualifications of any candidate, but let’s all be clear about something… the separation of church and state protects the rights of all citizens, including Christian ministers, to run for public office. I have heard people’s misunderstanding of the “establishment clause” many times, but to imply that religious people should not constitutionally be part of the governing process is an interesting opinion but not an actual fact.


  10. First, I understand that this conversation veered wildly off topic. And while I think it’s a great idea and one that has most likely kept us out of civil conflict, I want to take this opportunity to correct a widely misquoted idea: There is no mention of Separation of Church and State in the Constitution. There is only the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment, which reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Thomas Jefferson did discuss it at various times, but it is not in the Constitution.

    Carry on.


  11. Interesting dialogue here. I am pleased to see that common sense is coming out of the woodwork to counter vox nihili…


  12. Interesting dialog, indeed, but we still don’t know:
    1. Did Mr. Nelson withhold his SEIU affiliation when applying for the appointment?
    2. Did the counsel know, and appointed him in spite of the conflict?


    1. Yes, we do. 1. No, he did not hide his day job with SEIU. 2. Yes, they were or should have been aware of it and appointed him anyway.
      (vox rationis…I hope).


  13. Mr. Mike Nelsons “Executive Director” position with the SEIU (as many employees for the city of Edmonds belong to SEIU), is much more of an issue than whether Mr. Neil Tibbot is a christian. Mr. Nelson being on the Edmonds City Council is a clear conflict of our interest. The fact that Laura Petso voted to put Mr. Mike Nelson on the council, has me firmly in the Neil Tibbot for council camp.


  14. It’s a completely false, non-issue that Mr. Nelson works as the director of a union. This is more knee-jerk union bashing by right-wing business interests.

    Gee, I wonder if those attacking Mr. Nelson would have the same problem if a council member or mayor formerly or currently worked in the real-estate, development or business fields or if any elected city official had received large contributions from people representing those fields. Of course not. Your issue is that you don’t like unions.

    If you’re going to say it’s a conflict for union official to be an elected official than you also have to call it a conflict for anybody working in real estate, development or business to be an elected official.


  15. As a left wing activist, I dont like seeing any democracy for any government bought and from what I have seen here in my opinion there is a lot bought and paid for here in place of democracy……whether it is the real estate big associations from somewhere else across the country and locally promoting their only agenda or the unions or any entity using big money, cronyism, wink, wink, corruption,etc. it is not a stretch to believe our democracy here right now is bought and paid for.

    This isnt just about unions…….or development entities….. Its about the very fabric of what our country stands for and that is democracy for all…..

    .Democracy cannot be BOUGHT and paid for, otherwise it is not democracy and we dont have democracy here right now.

    We do not have equal, fair representation for ALL. One need only do a little research to see this has gone on for a while and continues…….”a house divided against itself cannot stand”…….I believe this was Abraham Lincoln……..and here we are

    Shame on us.


  16. Whoa down a bit. The issue is: Does Mr. Nelson have a conflict of interest or not? What does he and others have to say about it? What the issue is NOT about: The false and “evil” intentions of three long service community and Council members. Lets get back on track and disregard the deflections.

    What about it Mike Nelson?


    1. I have always and will continue to recuse myself from any matter pertaining to SEIU local 925 city employees before the Edmonds City Council to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. I work for a separate legal and financial entity of SEIU. I am not an employee, supervisor or elected leader of SEIU Local 925. I disclosed who I worked for prior to my appointment.


  17. While my interactions with Councilmember Nelson have been limited, I find him to be quite level-headed, civil, approachable – and honorable. At some point, every elected official is going to run into a “conflict of interest” issue – how he or she deals with this conflict is what is most important. I’m confident Mr. Nelson will do right.


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