Former Edmonds School Board president, local courts administrator, victim advocate and City of Seattle strategic advisor for rights of way and land use issues Susan Paine formally kicked off her campaign for Edmonds City Council Position 6 at a lively Monday-evening reception at Edmonds’ Café Louvre.
The council position is currently held by Tom Mesaros, who isn’t seeking re-election. Current Edmonds School Board President Diana White is also running for the Position 6 seat.
Paine’s mother, Alice Paine, introduced her daughter to the estimated 40 attendees, thumbnailing her work and education history, and her strong personal values of helping the less fortunate, environmental stewardship and preserving what’s best in her community.
“I’ve known her all her life,” Alice Paine continued. “I’ve seen her face many challenges along the way, but these have all served to make her stronger and better able to empathize with others.”
With this introduction, the candidate took over the microphone.
“It’s time for an Edmonds that’s distinctive,” Paine began. “We have to carve out our own personality, especially in the context of the Seattle sprawl that’s moving up Highway 99 in our direction. Paramount to this is keeping our downtown on a human scale. We have a gorgeous waterfront that sparkles in the summer, ferries, whales, a fishing pier and the best dog park anywhere. But we can’t take these for granted.
“I’m not a big fan of tearing out existing businesses that help define us,” she continued. “The recent bookstore closing saddens me. We have great shops and need to create opportunities for more to help encourage foot traffic and enliven our streetscape. I’m talking sustainable economic development that supports our small businesses. We have the potential, but we need to claim it now before the opportunity passes. If we don’t make the effort to define Edmonds, it will end up looking like any other generic spot.”
Paine said she sees this effort as important not only in downtown, but in our other neighborhoods such as Five Corners, Westgate, Perrinville, Firdale Village, and most notably Highway 99.
“I see improved safety along Highway 99 as a prerequisite,” she said. “It’s a natural gateway to Edmonds, introduces us to residents and visitors, and needs to reflect this. It’s impossible to have a thriving district in an area with this many pedestrian and vehicle accidents.”
Paine said “a top priority” would be funding for Highway 99 improvements. “Our major focus should be on Highway 99 — it’s where we have the most troubles,” she said. “Accordingly, I propose we shift our priorities and redirect money earmarked for the waterfront connector to this much more important use.”
She also sees opportunity on Highway 99 to create more housing options, with many currently vacant properties that could be re-imagined as housing.
“If we don’t grow our housing stock with a diversity of price points, the cost of housing will continue to rise and be unreachable for many people,” she said. “Housing stock diversity is key for Edmonds, but it needs to be done in a sensible, sustainable way that also recognizes the need for open space.”
Going hand-in-hand with this, Paine went on to advocate an active role for Edmonds in supporting human services.
“We can do better for our struggling neighbors by adding human services funding to our budget,” she said. “We need to put in a budget line for this, to make local funds available for shelters, drug intervention services, and other measures to help people out of crisis and on the path to rebuilding their lives and becoming productive members of the community. By providing funds to put these programs in place now, we can help prevent this scourge from advancing. We need to do this for our community; it’s very preventive.”
Explaining that while this money would come from city funds, she cautioned that it needs to be well-informed and data-driven.
Moving on to the environment, Paine spoke of the need to preserve and expand the city’s open and green spaces, and articulated her strong support of preserving and protecting the Edmonds Marsh.
In conclusion, she summarized her core values.
“I’m a big believer in life-long learning, environmental stewardship, and diversity,” she said. “You get the best solutions with a diversity of opinions and a collaborative approach. Teamwork is the key. I care deeply about Edmonds and the amazing folks who live here. It would be a great honor to represent you on the city council.”
With this, Paine turned over the microphone to City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, who pulled no punches, giving her strong support to Paine’s candidacy.
“I’m supporting Susan all the way,” she began. “I’ve known her more than 10 years. Our children went to school together. I can’t think of anyone better poised to move our city in an appropriate direction. We’ve had many years of pro-development, anti-environment, anti-marsh, anti-fish sentiments on council. It’s time to move forward and protect not just our city, but what our city is on.
“Susan has a tough opponent in this election who’s connected with the ‘old guard’ of Edmonds,” she continued. “We need folks who care about Edmonds to stand up for what’s important. Not how many apartments we can put in, not how high we can build, not how much of the little space we have left can be developed. We need folks who care about other people, and that’s Susan. I urge you to join with me and let’s get her elected!”
Learn more about Susan Paine at her campaign website, www.SusanPaine.com.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel