Amid marsh setback controversy, council president suspends councilmember as port liaison

Council President Kristiana Johnson
Council President Kristiana Johnson

As the Edmonds City Council awaits a response from the Washington State Department of Ecology — expected soon — on the council’s letter supporting a 125-foot setback for the Edmonds Marsh, Council President Kristiana Johnson said that a minority opinion letter advocating a 65-foot setback has damaged the members’ ability to work together.

Johnson also confirmed that she suspended Councilmember Dave Teitzel as the council’s liaison to the Port of Edmonds, which owns property next to the Edmonds Marsh and has been advocating for the 65-foot setback.

Johnson said the suspension stemmed from Teitzel’s decision to put his name on the Oct. 25 minority opinion letter — also signed by Councilmembers Tom Mesaros and Neil Tibbott. She said it is also related to a comment Teitzel made while attending the Oct. 10 Port of Edmonds meeting, during which he recommended that “the Port continue to work with the DOE to express their views and talk about how science comes into play,” she said.

Teitzel’s comment “wasn’t representing the council’s opinion or viewpoint,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the suspension was for one meeting, although she isn’t sure yet when he will be reinstated. However, she added, “I have great appreciation for Dave Teitzel. He’s worked very hard his first year and I look forward to working him in the future.”

Councilmember David Teitzel
Councilmember David Teitzel

Teitzel said that while he disagreed with Johnson’s move to suspend him, “I respect her opinion and will abide by her decision.”

Johnson said that she will work to schedule time at a future council meeting so that councilmembers can talk about how to move forward following the “minority opinion” letter, which drew a swift, sharp response from the four councilmembers who supported the wider setback.

In their dissenting letter, Teitzel, Mesaros and Tibbott reiterated their belief — expressed during past council meetings — that “the marsh environment is more likely to be improved within the next few years by allowing a reasonable level of development.”

But that minority opinion letter was described as “unprecedented and divisive” in an email response signed by Johnson and fellow Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Mike Nelson. The four comprised the majority in the council’s 4-3 Sept. 28 vote supporting the 125-foot setback through the city’s Shoreline Master Program.

“It is disrespectful to the conduct long established and upheld by past councils,” the response noted. “What sort of message does this send every time some councilmembers disagree with a vote that they fire off letters to state agencies and other governing bodies in opposition?”

Johnson attempted to start a discussion about the issue during last Tuesday’s, Nov. 1, council meeting — the first meeting held since the dissenting letter was issued — but the topic was introduced late in the evening and didn’t get any traction

“My concerns are really about the council’s ability to work together,” Johnson said. “I think that this has been damaged and needs to be sorted out.”

— By Teresa Wippel


  1. What part of majority vote did the Mayor and dissenting council members not understand? Is this once again a my way or the highway mentality? We need to work together and respect one another even when we disagree. The Mayor and dissenting council members actions were anything but respectful.

  2. the city council is a bunch of losers. What is the point? Who wins. Surely not the preservation of the marsh. As a 50 year voter none of you have my vote. Please let us get on with the preservation of the marsh project.

  3. Boy, this Edmonds Marsh setback issue is getting out-of-hand. 1st the Mayor should be reprimanded! Then, a Council Member Dave Teitzel is now suspended. I smell a “rat”! This sounds like a former Councilmember, who is lurking in the shadows, has still got control over at least 3 other Councilmembers. I would say the name but the name is tantamount to Harry Potters “Voldemort”!
    What’s next? Are we going to call out the National Guard and place them around the circumference of the Edmonds Marsh?
    Come on people! Compromise! Don’t keep alienating the City Council and the Port of Edmonds against each other. There is a deal to be had here! Not everyone is going to be happy. Yes we are in a unique place within the Puget Sound and we want to preserve the natural beauty. But, we are talking about a set-back issue. Call it 50′, 65′, 100′ or 125′. Compromise! Find a solution!
    To our Mayor and City Councilmember Dave Teitzel, I apologize for the way you have been treated lately. It seems that some old wounds have been drummed-up.
    I am just an ordinary citizen who has an opinion. I say what I say!

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