Here’s our highlight of the Edmonds City Council portion of Monday night’s candidates’ forum sponsored by the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, which drew a full house to the Council Chambers. We will have summaries of comments from candidates from the Edmonds School District Board of Directors and the Edmonds Port Commission in coming days.
Edmonds City Council Position 1
Johnson, a retired government planner who grew up in Edmonds, told the audience “I like to think of myself as the hometown candidate that knows Edmonds inside and out,” Johnson said. Citing her years on the city council and past experience on the Edmonds Planning Board, Johnson added: “I know how to get things done.”
Challenger Josh Thompson
Thompson, an aide to County Councilmember Stephanie Wright, said he believes he has an opportunity “to make a real impact on the council starting on day 1.” He said he has six years of experience “helping people navigate government” to make their lives better.
Edmonds City Council Position 3
Incumbent Adrienne Fraley-Monillas
Fraley-Monillas, who grew up in nearly Richmond Beach, is a retired state worker who is an active volunteer with the Edmonds Senior Center, and serves on several boards, including the county’s Law and Justice Commission and chairs the Snohomish County Health District Board.
Challenger Alvin Rutledge is a 30-year Edmonds resident who has run unsuccessfully several times for local office. He said he ran again this year because there were candidates running unopposed.
Here were the questions, as posed by forum moderator David Cornell:
It’s estimated Snohomish County will add 238,000 people in the next 15 years, and Edmonds is estimated to grow by 6,000. What policies and actions would you support to ensure that Edmonds is ready for this influx of new residents?
Thompson: The planned redevelopment of Highway 99 through Edmonds is good place to absorb some of that population growth without impacting nearby neighborhoods, Thompson said.
Johnson: “6,000 residents is a lot to absorb but we’re ready,” she said, adding that the City’s Comprehensive Plan addresses the issue.
Rutledge: “It’s questionable” whether Highway 99 is the right place for growth.
Fraley-Monillas: She pointed to her involvement with Highway 99 redevelopment issues for the past seven years, noting that the recent subarea plan passed by the council will include transit-oriented development.
Should there be affordable housing units in Edmonds and how will the City Council ensure that developers provide affordable housing with new projects.
Fraley-Monillas: It will be necessary for the city to provide “some type of incentive zoning” to entice developers to build affordable housing, adding that Edmonds should have a range of options, from low-income to affordable to senior citizen to at-market housing.
Rutledge: Churches are the best place to place affordable housing, he said.
Johnson: The City Council recently passed an ordinance that provides developers with a tax break if they provide 10 percent low income housing and 10 percent moderate housing in the Westgate and Highway 99 neighborhoods, Johnson said.
Thompson: Highway 99 provides the best opportunity to provide housing at all levels of income, Thompson said, noting that the city is also studying the idea of permitting mother-in-law apartments to provide more housing.
How will you balance your duty to act on behalf of all 40,000 residents when faced with a vocal minority who stand in opposition?
Johnson: She said makes an effort to keep the entire community in mind when making decisions, even when she might share a different point of view.
Thompson: “Embracing opposing views are how you reach the best outcome,” he said. “We may not always I agree but…I will listen and I will learn from what you bring forward to the council regardless of how loud or not loud you are.”
Fraley-Monillas: “It’s a real challenge to represent 41,000 people,” she said “You have to be out there in the community to learn what the community wants, and that’s where my work all over the county — including in this city — is a benefit because I am able to talk to citizens from all walks of life.”
Rutledge: Continual turnover of the population makes it difficult to create a system for representing the entire city, Rutledge said.
As a councilmember, how do you plan to address the opioid crisis in this community?
Thompson: While the opioid issue is bigger than just Edmonds, the city could be “a more vocal partner,” Thompson said. There is a lack of detox beds, and “I think we need to bring a facility to South (Snohomish) County, one that provides services,” he said. Right now, Edmonds residents needing such services have to travel to Everett, “and by bus, that can be a three-hour round trip,” he added.
Johnson: Agreeing with Thompson, Johnson added “What we’re trying now doesn’t work. This is something this we need to address directly.” She noted the new drug take back box in the Edmonds Police Department as a good first step, adding it’s important for everyone to monitor their drugs to ensure they don’t get into the hands of young people.
Rutledge: He suggested that citizens should come to the council with a plan to address the opioid crisis.
Fraley-Monillas: Echoing Thompson’s comment, Fraley-Monillas said that the lack of “long-term treatment beds” is the biggest challenge related to this problem. Currently there’s a six-month wait for addicts to get into treatment, she added.
— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel