Olson kicks off campaign with promise of civil discourse, preserving Edmonds’ charm

Pledging to bring disparate groups together by fostering “civil discourse,” and to preserve Edmonds’ small-town ambience through building codes and architectural standards that “codify charm,” Vivian Olson formally kicked off her campaign for Edmonds City Council Position 5 in a Monday evening event at American Brewing Company in Harbor Square.

“The critical issue facing Edmonds right now is our failure to converse in a civil manner,” she said. “I believe that together we already have all the answers we need among us.  The challenge is staying in the room long enough to actually have these conversations, and come up with meaningful, effective solutions.”

Olson also cited her experience with government contracting, engineering and technical disciplines, and years being part of the Edmonds community as among her qualifications for the council seat being vacated by retiring Councilmember Dave Teitzel. So far, Olson has one opponent — Planning Board member Alicia Crank, who announced her candidacy for Position 5 last week.

The first issue Olson hopes to take on is building codes, especially those affecting structures in the downtown core. For many citizens, it is the charm of these buildings and their surroundings that give downtown Edmonds its signature ambience, making the city a draw for day trippers and a joy to residents. She made it clear that her aim is nothing short of baking charm into the building codes.

“Downtown Edmonds has numerous old buildings, many single-story, a number of which will likely be either replaced or renovated within the next 20 years” Olson explained. “The current code allows 30-foot buildings, but doesn’t guarantee we’ll end up with something that is consistent with and adds to our unique charm. We’re already seeing downtown buildings going up that some feel are out of step. We need to get ahead of the rest of the building turnover and put guidelines in place that guarantee we’ll like how it looks 30 years from now. And we need to do this collaboratively, with everyone in the room.”

Olson’s campaign manager, Debra Rich Gettleman, describes the candidate as the woman of the hour, and what Edmonds needs right now.

“She is the person, she wants to listen, she wants to have creative, smart conversations that bring everyone into the room,” Gettleman explained.  “She’s looking to break down barriers and meet people where they are. She is really about finding solutions together.  She’ll tell you upfront that she doesn’t have all the answers, but believes in the strength, knowledge and wisdom of the community. She wants to harness that and work together to come up with answers.”

One way Olson proposes to do this is by getting out of the downtown core and holding weekly “Wednesday walks” in Edmonds’ neighborhoods. She says these will begin at a neighborhood gathering place such as a coffee shop, where she will talk about issues facing our community and listen to ideas and feedback from residents. She stresses her firm belief that we can all work together to come up with solutions that make sense.

Olson cited her background and education as providing a strong foundation for her to be an effective city councilmember. After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1989 (“no, I did not know Captain Marvel!”), she went on to earn a masters degree in aeronautical science. While in graduate school, she also took several certification courses in government contracting, contract law, cost accounting and quality assurance. Her work experience includes supply contracting branch chief for the U.S. Air Force and contract administrator for Hughes Aircraft. She and husband Gregg settled in Edmonds, where they raised two daughters, during which time she worked as an independent businesswoman and coached swimming at Harbor Square Athletic Club.

“I believe my combination of experience, education and personal values make me as well-poised to do this job as anyone has ever been,” Olson said. “But it’s not about how awesome I am; it’s about how awesome you are. It won’t work without you. So bring your ideas, let’s have civil conversations where everyone is included and every idea is considered, and let’s come up with solutions that make sense. We don’t have to fear a future that we all help create. I love you, Edmonds!”

Learn more about Vivian Olson at her website..

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel


8 Replies to “Olson kicks off campaign with promise of civil discourse, preserving Edmonds’ charm”

  1. Vivian Olson will engage you in a civil manner, listen carefully, and consider your opinions. She believes in the power and value of all people who care about our city. But don’t take my word for it. Join her for a “Wednesday Walk” and experience it first hand!


  2. Vivian is an excellent listener, has a deep love for Edmonds, is politically agnostic, actively volunteers her time, is very smart and takes the time to learn all factors around an issue before taking a position. These are all characteristics of a great legislator. It’s an honor to support her!


  3. Looking forward to supporting a candidate that has her priorities being rooted in fact based information coming to the table rather than already supporting a solution that has not involved civil discourse – all very important to me and my family. I strongly believe that local government affects us as citizens acutely and I’m encouraged that Vivian is running and will engage the public. I look forward to hearing more during her Wednesday walks!


  4. We don’t need more flowery rhetoric. We need real change.
    What are her plans for affordable housing, tackling our regressive tax structure and curbing drug overdoses/homelessness?
    Zoning the city to be more beautiful is dandy but it doesn’t matter when you have homeless people in your streets.
    Wake up! Bernie 2020!


    1. Jonathan, how about couching you statements with, “I’d be interested to know”?

      Reading your words comes across as angry and pointed. I don’t know candidate Olson from any other stranger. Yet, rather than jump to conculsions, it seems more prudent to ask questions in a productive manner.

      She apparently has invited you to walk with her. Why not take that opportunity to ask your questions vs. hide behind the keyboard?


    2. Jonathon,
      You are correct. We do need action and positive discourse to make real change. Thank you for reaching out to our campaign. Vivian’s plattform is about so much more than zoning and physical aesthetics. Please read over our website at VO4E.com and send us your contact information so we can hear your ideas and address the issues that matter to you and all of Edmonds. Yes, come meet Vivian on a walk and let’s find solutions together!


      1. Vivian, the Council and City of Edmonds will greatly benefit from your intelligent, data-driven, and inclusive approach. You are a collaborative and thoughtful decision maker who will reach out to the community and effectively consider and balance both facts and community passion. You are exactly the type of leader the Council and our fair City needs, especially with the impending loss of several other talented councilmembers this election cycle. Good luck and thanks for your continued community service.


  5. Vivian practices what she preaches – civility and careful listening. After listening, she is ready to talk intelligently on the complex, interlocking issues we face in Edmonds – with due consideration for our limitations in funding and taxing. Vivian will be great addition to our Council.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *