The candidate forum drew a crowd to the City Council Chambers Monday night.
Larry Vogel took photos and Teresa Wippel took notes during Monday night’s annual Edmonds Chamber of Commerce candidates forum, which extended an invitation to all those running — with or without opponents — for Edmonds Port Commission, School District Board of Directors, Mayor and City Council. What follows are photos and brief excerpts from Monday night. The entire forum was recorded by the city for future viewing and can be watched online on the city website. You can also watch My Edmonds News’ one-on-one interviews with all candidates (with opponents) for local elections at this link.
Port Commissioner David Preston, running unopposed for position 2, said the port has worked hard to attract tourism through whale watching, concerts by high school Sea Jazz musicians and Artists in Action. “We’re putting in new bathrooms down there, which may not seem real exciting but it is down there, when you are walking around,” he added.
Port Commissioner Jim Orvis, also unopposed, for position 4: The port is “a leader in developing environmentally sensitive procedures in the marina and boat yard, and many of these have been adopted by other facilities around the Sound,” he said.
Three candidates seeking election to the Edmonds School District Board of Directors: Gary Noble, Susan Phillips and Diana White. Noble cited improved district graduation rates and test scores during his 11 years on the board. Phillips had served seven years on the board before resigning in early 2014 due to a family medical emergency. She is now running unopposed to regain her seat, and pledged “to continue to work to strengthen relationships between school, community and home.” White, seeking her second term and currently serving as board president, said she is committed to helping all students succeed, “including our struggling learners, our English Language Learners, our low-income and special needs kids, and especially our students of color.”
School Board candidate Carin Chase, seeking the open Director Position 1 seat, said she is concerned that “in the amount of time that’s been spent worried about [standardized] testing, classroom preparation, that we are pushing out those things that foster imagination and creativity [in students].”
School Board candidate Bill Willcock, also running for District 1: “The real danger of standardized tests is the over-reliance in them as a sole measure of success,” adding he would “fight hard for a more comprehensive view of student achievement at the classroom level, taking in more inputs than just a standardized exam.”
City of Edmonds candidates running unopposed include Mayor Dave Earling and City Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis and Tom Mesaros. Earling said he has prioritized communication with citizens, including regular columns in local publications, and information via social media and video, “so they…feel like they are a part of the community.” Buckshnis, running for a second term, cited among her accomplishments improving the city’s financial policies, and her commitment to Edmonds’ “traditional values and character.” Mesaros, who was appointed 18 months ago to fill a vacant council seat, said he is prioritizing leadership, collaboration and stewardship. “Government always seems to want more money, and I’ve learned after being on the council that there is never enough money,” he added.
Councilmember Mike Nelson, appointed earlier this year to fill position 2, “I do believe Edmonds is a special place and I want to keep it that way. That’s why my priorities are threefold: a strong economy, a safe community and a healthy environment.”
Nelson’s challenger, longtime community volunteer Al Rutledge said he would prioritize gathering input from the community: “When you’re elected, you’re supposed to represent the citizens and the people in this town,” he said.
David Teitzel and Alicia Crank are vying for the open position 5 council seat. “I care deeply about Edmonds,” said Teitzel, who has lived in the area since 1987. “My campaign theme is to be included…and we need to do a better job of demographically including people.” Among Crank’s priorities: Open government and transparency, housing affordability and smart growth and development, including a focus on “building up businesses that are here.”
Edmonds Planning Board Chair Neil Tibbott is challenging incumbent Councilmember Lora Petso for position 7. Both candidates were asked what development should take place along the Edmonds waterfront: Tibbott noted the attempt by the Port of Edmonds, rejected by the city council, to gain approval of a master plan for Harbor Square development, “and I believe we lost an opportunity to bring new business, new opportunity to the Harbor area. One of the things I was looking forward to in particular…was more residential development in that area, so people could live there and also commute back and forth to Seattle or Everett on the rail system.” Countered Petso: “One of the key elements for development along the waterfront will be to respect the views. Just as in the Bowl… if you have high-rise development on the waterfront you are going to impact views.” Another key to waterfront development is the train noise, and the council has taken steps with directional horns to reduce those impacts, she said.
Jan Kavadas has served for years as official timekeeper for the chamber forum.