Councilmember Neil Tibbott kicked off his campaign for Edmonds mayor Thursday evening, as supporters packed downtown’s Café Louvre to hear his promise of sound, thoughtful leadership unencumbered by political ideology.
The event was emceed by Tibbott’s colleague on the Edmonds City Council, Tom Mesaros, who praised Tibbott’s work on the council, saying, “I can’t think of a better fellow to do the Mayor’s job.”
Mary Monroe, chair of Edmonds Citizens Economic Development Commission, also offered her support, citing Tibbott’s valuable work as council liaison to the commission.
“I so admire the way Neil represents the council on our commission,” she said. “I respect that he provides us the full range of council views and opinions, not just his own. He makes sure all viewpoints are represented, even if he doesn’t personally agree.”
Former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson recalled how he met Tibbott white serving as mayor, and that he’s always been impressed by his values and character.
Tibbott’s son Nate provided a personal perspective, praising his father and noting that, “The qualities that make a good father translate into a great community leader — consistency, showing up every day, not changing just to please the crowd or make folks happy.”
Taking the podium to the strains of “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, Tibbott began by relating how 20 years ago, when he and his family were looking for a place to settle, they found Edmonds.
“It was perfect for us,” he said. “Charming downtown, scenic waterfront, recreational opportunities — we loved it, settled in and never looked back. We raised four children here, remodeled the house, coached soccer, got to know the merchants and business folk, built friends across the city.
“I care deeply about Edmonds and I want to be able to give back,” he continued. “I want to be the mayor who’s the chief defender, advocate and collaborator for the city, and I want us to come together and be proud of our city.”
A one-term councilmember who also served on the Edmonds Planning Board, Tibbott joins one other candidate so far in the 2019 mayoral race — City Councilmember Mike Nelson., who launched his campaign in late February. Current Mayor Dave Earling is not running for re-election.
Tibbott went on to outline two trends that he sees at work, one positive and the other “not so positive.”
“First, I’m excited about the great things happening now,” he began, noting Edmonds’ planned multigenerational Waterfront Center, the plans for Civic Field, the city’s recognition as the state’s first creative district, its environmental programs and the emergence of new businesses.
“It’s exciting. We’re a happening place,” he continued. “But I’m concerned about what would happen if we do not continue to invest in these programs. I want to make sure they succeed. I want to make sure that City Hall supports services that help families and businesses be fruitful. I am the candidate in this race offering sound leadership backed with the skills, administrative background, professional experience and working knowledge of how to lead planning efforts and accomplish the work we need to do.”
Tibbott described the second trend, the deterioration of civil discourse, as one that “moves me deeply and tears at the heart of our relationships.”
“As we listen to the national conversation it’s easy to hear the lack of civility between people and opposing parties,” he said. “Unfortunately, that trend is showing up in some of our meetings, and the way we deal with one another in the city.
“I plan to guide vital conversations across the city,” he pledged. “I’ve worked more than 20 years in communications and public engagement. I know how to build consensus. I know how to create strategic plans that work. I care deeply about our city, and I want to be the mayor who moves us forward in these areas.
“Tonight in this room are folks from across the political spectrum, but we’re all here tonight for one reason — we care about our city,” he continued. “I’m not bringing agendas from outside. I don’t represent any special interests. I’m not compelled to implement the latest ideas from Seattle. Other candidates may give you a laundry list of programs they want to implement, but they’ll do it without specifics, like how they’ll pay for them. People who’ve worked with me know that when I bring forth a program, it will have a solid plan behind it.”
Returning to his theme song, Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” Tibbott went on to explain its significance in his campaign.
“There’s a superstition going around our city that it takes politics to win an election,” he concluded. “To me, that’s pure superstition. I’m not running as a Democrat, a Republican or any other political party. I’m running to provide sound leadership for our future, preserve what we have, and to serve you as Mayor of Edmonds. I look forward to your vote in November.”
Learn more about Neil Tibbott at the Tibbott for Mayor website.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel