Two-term Edmonds City Councilmember Diane Buckshnis is seeking re-election in November to Council Position 4, where she vows to continue serving Edmonds as a strong voice for governmental and financial transparency, the environment and community empowerment.
Buckshnis is being challenged by Edmonds attorney and political newcomer Jenna Nand.
On Council since 2010, Buckshnis points to several accomplishments during her tenure, including efforts to create greater governmental transparency through revamped financial reporting, policies and procedures. She also described her push for more accountability and inclusion in the Edmonds Housing Strategy, advocating for creation of a new Housing Commission and greater city council involvement.
“My greatest satisfaction in serving on the city council comes from being an agent for positive change,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a long time to make change, but knowing that I’ve been instrumental in making it happen and thereby helping Edmonds become a better place for all makes it so worthwhile.
“I’m passionate about helping people,” she added. “I’m a very goal-minded person, but I’m also a good listener and believe strongly in helping people understand the issues we face.”
Buckshnis grew up in Portland, Ore. and graduated in 1979 from Portland State University, where she earned B.S. degrees in both business administration/finance and psychology. Her professional work in banking and finance has taken her all over the world, including a stint assisting the Lithuanian government rebuild its post-Soviet banking and regulatory system.
She and husband Steve Tholl have lived in Edmonds for the past 20 years, during which time she has volunteered with a host of organizations where she has become a familiar figure, staffing tables at events, organizing and fundraising. These include Off-Leash Area Edmonds, the Edmonds Art Festival, Edmonds Rotary, Edmonds Floretum Garden Club, Edmonds Senior Center, Edmonds in Bloom, Students Saving Salmon, Save Our Marsh, and Taming Bigfoot. Additionally, as a councilmember she has served as the liaison with the Citizens Tree Board and the Mayors’ Climate Protection Committee.
In addition to the Tree Board and Climate Protection Committee work, her environmental credentials include nine years on the Water Resources Inventory 8 Salmon Recovery Council and five years on the Salmon Recovery Grant Funding Committee, through which she helped make the Edmonds Marsh eligible for competitive grants. This work will bring her to Washington, D.C. next month, where she will join Mayor Dave Earling in helping federal officials understand the impacts and importance of the Edmonds Marsh estuary restoration effort.
“I’ve been passionately involved in the whole Edmonds Marsh restoration since the start,” she said. “I’ve closely watched the various studies and work to restore buffers, daylight Willow Creek, and ultimately restore salmon to this precious environmental resource. I strongly believe that nature can restore itself if given the chance, and it is our responsibility to provide that chance.”
Buckshnis is a member of Edmonds Rotary, which is responsible for maintaining the Lynnwood-based YMCA Women’s Shelter, and was involved in developing the recently-completed year-long city council study on homelessness and participating in Snohomish County Tomorrow’s Affordable Housing Alliance. She also sits on the board of the Edmonds Senior Center.
One issue high on her current priority list, Buckshnis said, is evaluating the necessity of the city’s proposed $27 million Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector project, aimed at accommodating emergency vehicles when at-grade rail crossings at Dayton and Main Streets are blocked.
“Things have changed since we first started considering this project many years ago, and I really feel we need to look closer before committing such a large sum of money,” she explained. “We need to look at the impacts of this large concrete structure on our beach environment, the dive park and traffic patterns to name a few. Ideas like evaluating the feasibility of a comprehensive health facility in the new Waterfront Center with the capability of treating medical emergencies should be considered as alternatives to needing the connector to bring in responders. We need to research more aspects before moving ahead on building this.”
Looking to the immediate future, Buckshnis laid out three primary goals for the coming year.
1) Ongoing governmental oversight to ensure financial accountability and transparency so taxpayers can understand where their tax dollars are being spent.
2) Supporting economic development that respects community empowerment and Edmonds’ small-town heritage, which includes addressing housing, homelessness and opioid abuse.
3) Continuing to support the environment, open space and parks with a key focus on protecting the Edmonds Marsh estuary and the city’s tree canopy.
“I’ve always been an independent voice,” she concluded. “I’m not wrapped up in politics. Rather, I believe in being plugged into our community, helping people understand, evoking positive change, and working for what’s needed locally.”
— By Larry Vogel