Letter to the editor: Character and actions matter when voting for our next mayor


A letter from residents to residents

We have an important decision to make regarding who we put in the mayor’s chair We have two candidates who could not be more different. The people who signed this letter could also not be more different. Many of us have never met and there are many things on which we would not agree. We each have reviewed information and accusations about both candidates and have summarized some of our findings below.

Pay taxes

Neil Tibbott – Yes 

Mike Nelson – DELAYED: Over six years Mike owed the IRS $52,000 and had a lien placed on his property. He is current now. https://www.heraldnet.com/news/edmonds-mayoral-candidate-tax-lien-surfaces-before-primary/

Responsible for campaign finance violations

Neil Tibbott – No

Mike Nelson – Yes Mike is Executive Director of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Washington Attorney General Filed a charge against SEIU for campaign finance violations. The judgment was $233,205 in civil penalties. https://www.atg.wa.gov/news/news-releases/seiu-state-council-pay-250000-over-campaign-finance-violations

Supports marriage equality

Neil Tibbott – Yes: “I do and always have supported marriage equality, and would be the first to defend it if it came under attack in our city.” https://myedmondsnews.com/2019/07/edmonds-mayoral-candidates-meet-again-during-ace-forum/

Mike Nelson – Yes: “I one hundred percent support marriage equality and will do anything in my power to defend it.” https://myedmondsnews.com/2019/08/mayoral-candidates-share-views-with-business-community-during-edmonds-chamber-lunch/

Prevented conflict of interest

Neil Tibbott – Yes

Mike Nelson – No: Mike served on the council while city employee SEIU contracts were being negotiated. Chair of his executive board was president of the union of Edmonds. His boss and part of his salary came from the union the city was negotiating with. https://olms.dol-esa.gov/query/orgReport.do?rptId=694642&rptForm=LM2Form

Changed vote on Connector

Neil Tibbott – Yes: He voted against it indicating that the original Task Force study and recommendation never referenced marine sanctuary impact and that the size was substantially larger than initially forecasted. https://myedmondsnews.com/2019/08/mayoral-candidates-share-views-with-business-community-during-edmonds-chamber-lunch/

Mike Nelson – Yes: Mike co-chaired the Task Force that identified 50 alternatives and recommended the connector as the preferred option.  Mike then indicated he didn’t support the connector because all other council members voted to save $1.36 million in fire department staffing. https://myedmondsnews.com/2019/08/mayoral-candidates-share-views-with-business-community-during-edmonds-chamber-lunch/

Supports Edmonds police chief

Neil Tibbott – Yes

Mike Nelson – No: Mike publicly accused the Edmonds police chief of inappropriate behavior when the chief encouraged the public to wait for facts before jumping to conclusions. A teen accused Edmonds police of stopping him for merely walking down the street because of his race. The teen later admitted that he fabricated the story because he was late to soccer practice. https://myedmondsnews.com/2018/03/edmonds-city-council-oks-new-playground-phone-system-mesaros-supports-police-chief/

Free from political party influence

Neil Tibbott – Yes

Mike Nelson – No: Mike has received support from a political party. https://www.pdc.wa.gov/reports/contributions_download?filer_id=NELSM%20%20020&election_year=2019

We believe that these topics represent important criteria for choosing a Mayor to serve this great community.

Neil has been endorsed by five Edmonds mayors; current councilmembers; five former councilmembers; four Edmonds Port Commissioners; five Edmonds Planning Board members; four Economic Development Commissioners; and the Everett Herald.  He has also been endorsed by almost every mayor from the communities around Edmonds, indicating his ability to collaborate on regional issues such as transportation, housing, crime, environment and homelessness.

Mike has been endorsed by four state representatives; three Snohomish County councilmembers, the Snohomish County prosecuting attorney, the Mayor of Mukilteo (no confidence vote by their council), the Sierra Club, the Snohomish County Labor Council, Snohomish County Democrats, and the 21st and 32nd District Democrats. Mike has the backing of labor unions and the strong backing from a political party for a seat that is to be non-partisan. Could his being a registered lobbyist and ties with special interest groups influence his objectivity and be the invitation for outside interests to control the Mayor’s seat, if elected?

We strongly recommend that you also do your own research, weigh what “character” and “actions” you want to align your vote with.

Those of us who have signed this letter won’t and don’t always agree, but we all do agree that Neil Tibbott should be our next mayor.

Signed (all titles and identifying information provided by the co-signers):

Mike Schindler                  Veteran Non-Profit Leader, 3rd Generation Edmonds Resident

Steve & Shannon Bullock   40+ year Edmonds Resident/former city staffer

Don Hall                            Independent and local business owner

Bill Herzig                          Registered independent

Sharon Howard                 Environmentalist

Theresa Hutchison           Nurse and Mexican American

Greg Gorsuch                    Local business owner

Cheryl Gorsuch                 RN

Maureen and Jeff Lewis   Bi-partisan household

Jack Loos                           Progressive senior citizen

Philip Lovell                      Progressive, registered engineer

Jim Mesick                        Progressive

Steve Pennington             Veteran

Randal Phelan                   Structural bridge design engineer

Laura Phelan                     Homemaker

George & Joan Ringstad  Lifetime residents

Mike Rosen                       Democrat

Art Jones                           Independent business owner and long time resident

Carl Zapora                       Democrat, retired Public Hospital District CEO


31 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Character and actions matter when voting for our next mayor”

  1. I have a difficult time believing someone can fully support something that they take a leadership position against. From a previous debate: Johnson then asked Tibbott whether he — as an ordained minister — would perform a marriage ceremony for one of his children if they were gay? “From my tradition I define marriage as between a man and a woman, so in my tradition those are the weddings that I perform,” Tibbott replied.


    1. Ann, you’re making a good point in another way. The former mayors and council member who wrote in support of Neil Tibbot are being taken to the woods for highlighting possible conflicts of interest with Mike’s wife and her involvement with the police union. I agree that Mike’s wife is a bit out of bounds. The rest of their open letter is condemning and persuasive.

      People are criticizing Neil for not wanting to personally marry his [hypothetically gay] kids to hypothetically gay partners. That is WaaaaaaaY out of bounds. Neil has personal beliefs. He said he’d support his [hypothetically gay] children but wouldn’t want to officiate the [hypothetically gay] wedding. If I were a tattoo artist and a child of mine wanted a tattoo I found inappropriate, I’d support them in their right to choose but I maybe wouldn’t sick them. Neil did a great job articulating his position in what is really the lowest of blows. This is mudslinging, and this is weaponizing the Gay Civil Rights movement.


      1. Matt I wouldn’t have commented on Neil’s stance if it wasn’t raised in the letter. Didn’t mean to sling, just stating my thoughts that it must be difficult to fully support something when your religious beliefs are contrary


        1. I agree Ann. You make great points. I actually support gay marriage from a _conservative_ perspective. Marriage is just a contract between consenting adults, just like any other freedom of association. I’ve seen advocates for gay marriage, a room full of people agree on that, come to loggerheads over whether or not polygamists-fundamentalist marriages should be legal (again, more than one consenting adult in contract). Often people just want their own rights. I believe in Free Speech, and support Amazon’s right to sell Mein Kampf which is speech that tests the limits of freedom. Tibbot can support other people’s right to marry another adult without also not wanting to officiate over the wedding.


  2. This is a great editorial. It is plain and provides facts. I live in a home with a teenager, and have two somewhat adult children. They love Edmonds. I love Edmonds (as a transplant). My politics and beliefs are different than my wife’s beliefs. At the end of the day, we get to facts. It eliminates the emotional response and brings to light the who, what, when, why, and how of the matter. If I could sign this letter, I would. It is the first piece of meaningful response to my questions in a clear and concise format that actually provides additional resources to review and research. I try to stay away from commenting on MEN, but this election matters to me. Local political changes are the ones that will affect me and my family the most.

    Thanks all above for a very well written and well timed letter, I believe that it answers my questions about who has the willingness to answer the tough questions about how they lead and manage. To date, by way of Google searches, I compiled enough about each candidate, and by paying attention to local politics, trying to stay involved in the community (my wife and I have both served on local committees), and by seeing what influences each of them, it becomes a pretty clear choice.

    Hats off to both of them for being willing to throw their names into the hat for Mayor. It takes a large person to want to serve in such a vibrant and obviously willing to debate community. For me, Edmonds is better off with Neil Tibbot and a local view with regional respect and an approach that brings the community together versus separating it with partisan or end-game tactics.


    1. George, I was asked to post links and your request for facts is as good as place as any.

      Mike Nelson was specifically named in the AG complaint for illegal electioneering:

      Mike did not disclose this conflict of interest to those interviewing him for his City Council appointment (I have his application, and discussed his interviews with prior council members who did the interviewing):
      https://accesshub.pdc.wa.gov/node/17841 <- lobbyist since 2012
      http://www.edmondswa.gov/images/COE/Government/City_Clerk/Ordinances/2008/Ord_3689.pdf <- prohibition on lobbying the City for a company while sitting on the City Council


  3. Ann – The only reason you know Neil’s religious belief was because Kristiana Johnson asked him a question about his personal beliefs rather than about his policy views during the primary debate. Unlike Mr. Nelson, Neil didn’t back away from a difficult subject and very clearly articulated his personal religious and public policy views. That’s honest talk, and I for one appreciate it. You also have him on the record now, and the checks and balances in our system would be as such where if he acted different than what he has outright promised, action could be taken.

    As someone whom 100% supports LBGTQ rights, one factor that shows consistency with Neil is that that is that he does not – at all – campaign about his status as a minister or his religious views. I’ve supported Neil since day 1 of his campaign, and I honestly had no clue he was a minister until Kristiana Johnson decided to play in the mud during the debates. If you struggle to understand how he would support something publicly that he’s against personally, why would you also believe he would all of a sudden start pushing his religious views on people when not one bit of his campaign has been about that?


    1. I was responding to what was brought up in this letter – I didn’t originally bring gay marriage up, the letter writers did. I believe Neil will follow the law and be supportive. I however stand by my thought that it seems troublesome to assume his absolute support when he is a leader in a church that doesn’t legitimize gay marriage.


  4. If you believe these are facts, I’ve got a concrete bridge over a wetlands area to sell you. The co-signers of this and the other smear letters might want to get in the habit of actually researching what they are signing. How embarrassing for them. Edmonds will remember.


      1. Agreed – Nikki, please elucidate and enlighten which statements are not facts, why you think so point-by-point, and publish your sources. Without this, your post itself gives the appearance of smear.


    1. Nikki, might I recommend you research who signed the letter? You may find that many are well-versed in conducting research.

      That being said, I am certainly open to being corrected if any of these sources are incorrect.


    2. Nikki, Mike Nelson chaired the committee that recommended the “concrete bridge over a wetlands area”. The whole City Council (including Mike Nelson) lost touch on the the Connector. Brad Shipley got my support for being the OG against the Connector. Really, the community did a great job organizing against the idea. Mike Nelson can’t take credit for being against an idea he helped create. Kudos to both Mike and Tibbot for listening to the community.


      1. We certainly have seen what the DNC has done on the National level to Mr. Sanders in 2016, and now to Mr Biden and President Trump for the 2020 election. And here we are in little Edmonds where local politics has seen a new low. Vote for the side that slings the least amount of mud.


    3. Nikki, so any facts that you refuse to believe are “smears”? (Please read Matt Richardson’s comment earlier in this thread for links with facts). No one who signed the letter need be embarrassed. I too am asking you what “facts” are wrong? When you throw out an ambiguous comment, you should add some “facts” of your own.


  5. Facts are difficult to ignore. The writer not only restated facts but added back up for those who would like to do some research on their own. I do not know either candidate personally, however, I have attended several events where the candidates have appeared together and separately. It is clear that the best choice for mayor is Neil Tibbott.


  6. “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – John Adams


  7. Emergency Medical Services and Fire Protection are important and costly. City data to show the cost and revenue sources for EMS and Fire are had to find since we went to the subcontracting model for both. City data shows a substantial savings by going to the subcontracting model. More than $1m initially and current costs are substantially less that the cost projections at time of conversion. Subcontracting works and saves us money.

    The city hired a expert to help with the renegotiation of the contract and recommendations were made that increased the services for EMS while not impacting Fire safety. These recommendations were supported by 6 council members and only Council member Nelson objected and voted no for the saving. It is only a guess but it appeared the objections was based on the reallocation of jobs.

    I have asked both candidates for their views on the subcontracting model and only Tibbott has responded expressing support for the subcontracting model. My take on his response is he is committed to trying to find ways to keep our costs controlled and provide the needed EMS and Fire services for Edmonds.

    Finance Dept reports to Council have said we are overdue for a economic slowdown that will impact tax revenues. The last time that happened we had city employee furloughs and out right elimination of police programs. We are not yet facing this issue but one would have to deeply question any new programs or expenditures that council members may bring forward during the budget process. What may sound good to the voters may not be cost effective and not the best use of our scarce resources. This may be the best time to save more and spend less.

    The Trolley Car experiment for 5 week ends was fun but costly. The costs are known but the ridership is not yet been published. Before any council member floats the idea of buying a trolley and providing the service, we should all hope that other council members would float the idea of either saving money for the future or doing more deferred maintenance our buildings.

    Both candidates could help us with some input on how they would spend or save our hard earned tax dollars. What may sound good may not be cost effective. We should all consider the finances of the city when we make or decision on who will lead the way for spending our money. Grand standing about reducing utility taxes, or property taxes is just that, grandstanding. Lets’ all look beyond the showmanship of the folks running for mayor and council and select those that can actually deliver on the promise and not just talk about it.


  8. I have nothing against the letter or the people who signed it but I would point out it’s a little scant on the details surrounding the “facts.” As the saying goes, “the devil’s in the details.”

    Pay taxes: Delayed is not the same thing as not paying one’s taxes. There is a difference between tax evasion and just not having the money to pay one’s taxes. For that matter how do these people know that Neil has always paid his taxes right on time or all the time. If they have seen all his tax returns then they need to say so, otherwise this is not any sort of meaningful comparison at all. Besides, people can be totally honest and run into situations where they can’t meet their obligations so I don’t put much credence in what these folks have to say on taxes.

    Campaign Finance Violations: This is probably a fair knock on Mike but the violation has been admitted and the fine paid as far as I know. The A.G. has said there was no actual intent found to break the law. This detail is missing from the “facts” in the letter.

    The Connector: Neil indicated before the public outrage demonstration, just before the vote was taken whether or not to proceed with the Connector vetting, that he was for proceeding with the vetting process. This looks like a “death bed” conversion to me, speaking metaphorically. There is also a valid argument to be made that Mike was right to change his stance on the Connector when it was portrayed as critical to our public safety on the one hand, and saving money any way possible on the critical services of police and fire was okay on the other hand. Basically he was pointing out some hypocrisy in the two positions of the Mayor and Council. My take is he realized he was ahead of the curve on this and changed his stance long before the public outrage.

    Conflict of Interest: It will be sort of hard to always eliminate Union members and officers running for public office in arguably the bluest, pro union state in the United States. It isn’t conflict of interest until and unless he fails to recuse himself from union issues or demonstrably voting in favor of unions at the expense of the City. Where are the signees’ facts relating to what he has actually done while in office to betray the City’s interest? Some details here please, or you are just blowing hot air.

    One last important “fact” conveniently left out here. Neil joined himself at the hip with our lame duck Mayor to write and actually send a descent letter to the State to try to get a smaller set back for the Port businesses next to the Marsh area. Some would consider this back stabbing the council. Thanks to Kristiana Johnson in a debate he has apologized as I noted before, which is also an admission that he did it. A forced apology in a debate is not exactly screaming true repentance I think. I am sure, however, he wishes he hadn’t done it.

    These letters and endorsements are pretty much meaningless and totally subject to interpretation. I urge people to trust their own analysis of what has gone down in the past in Edmonds and to go with their gut instincts. Neither of these two brave (for running) individuals are either as good or as bad as their champions would like you to believe.


    1. Great Post C.W. I was thinking the Same thing regarding “Intent” & “Material” damages,
      without those two key components of modern law, there is not a valid case and/or crime committed, remembering that from my business law class in college, I did receive a B- grade so trust me (ha ha). I don’t have a law degree from Gonzaga like Mr. Nelson, I’m not that talented of an academic.

      Regarding Waterfront Connector debacle it was telling when Mr. Nelson came outside on two separate occasions to acknowledge and thank the large crowd forming during the Waterfront connector protest located at Court House last summer. I recall him saying “This is why we are here to represent you”. Ms. Buckshnis also had a letter read thanking the people and Adrian also addressed the crowd in person. I don’t know little things like that matter to me in my representative leadership and left a positive impression.


  9. Clinton, who or what individual or body of individuals determines what letters are meaningful and which ones are not?

    I would agree this letter is subject to interpretation depending on how one views each individual running for this office.

    I would also agree that both candidates are likely not as good or as bad as their champions profess. The intent of this letter was to compare recurring issues and offer additional sources either refuting or supporting often cited rhetoric.

    Bottom line: I personally intend to continue to serve this city when asked, regardless of who is Mayor.


    1. Mr. Shindler. A little honesty here please. The intent of this letter was to try to sway people to vote for your preferred candidate based on the “facts” which you want people to believe somehow makes Mike a flawed candidate without much actual proof. In short it was a thinly disguised negative attack on Mr. Nelson’s perceived character as you and your fellow signees see it. When you sign something you own it. I’m not condemning you or the others for putting it out there, I’m just urging the electorate writ large to see it for what it is and pretty much ignore it.

      My point is that your and my opinion about who to vote for is worth exactly what someone pays for it, which is pretty much nothing. On the other hand, your and my vote is priceless and something many soldiers like yourself have died trying to protect. If you really think hard about this I think you are the type of man who will see that I’m probably right here.


      1. Clinton, I’ve provided links and have stated that I will gladly modify such evidence should folks provide it. My intent remains as stated.

        I stand firm in my statement that character matters. One should not find this an attack if they believe their candidate possesses such, as I believe both sides do.

        I publicly stated my reason for supporting one candidate over another and cited sources. In today’s environment, it’s really troubling that no matter what one says or what evidence one produces, it is subject to being called out as “fake” or mudslinging.

        If you were to ask me if there is one person I would serve in battle with, I do have an answer for you…and reasons for it. For the record, I served the world’s greatest Navy.

        At the end of the day, I will always answer the call to service if I can add value to this city, regardless of who is sitting in the mayor’s office.

        I truly am one team, one fight regardless of political differences. Mission above self, in simple terms.


  10. “The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”

    -Will Rogers


  11. And I stand by my remarks Mr. Shindler. You’ve signed your name to what amounts to what many would see as a negative hit piece with little actual worth in deciding who to vote for in this election. If you are proud of it and stand by it’s veracity that’s fine with me and more power to you. Personally, I would not be proud of signing such a letter for either candidate. I think the voters are smarter than all this and the right guy will win and I will support him, until and unless I think he does not deserve my support anymore. That does not mean I expect him to always see my side of any issue. I only want him to consider all sides and be more about the office rather than himself. Peace, my friend.


  12. Clinton, what I appreciate is that we all are entitled to our opinion…even when that opinion is just that, an opinion.

    It is your last sentence that I have based my decision, based on my experience with elects and leaders who have served in combat … “be more about the office rather than himself.” One does hold truer to this principle than another.

    Peace to you. I’d still buy you a cup of coffee.


  13. I’m in Tucson or I’d take you up on coffee. I just read in their paper they have a ballot initiative to raise the Mayor salary from 42000 a year to 63128. This is after 20 years of no raises for Mayor or Council. Council makes 24000 now. Initiative would raise it to 42,000. Have to wonder what talent they get for those numbers? Especially Mayor.


  14. You are correct Ron. His salary is $225,000. He just received a 5% raise from the Mayor and Council and the city budget is over $1.5 Billion/Yr. Not a very good comparison to Edmonds for sure. Maybe more like a comparison to Seattle. The roads here are terrible and the parks are run down and full of homeless. Much easier to be homeless here than in the Seattle area. People here also want all the good stuff at little to no cost. Human nature.


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