Letter to the editor: Why I support Buckshnis, Crank, Johnson and Paine for city council

Editor:

I never meant to get involved in politics.

I only meant to work with those trying to protect our environment. However, the more I got involved with environmental issues, the more I realized how essential it is to have elected officials who understand and care about the issues.

Those of us working to protect our Edmonds environment need to have decision-makers on the city council who comprehend and respect the scientific data related to environmental protection. Unfortunately, some candidates for city council have actively worked against science-driven action. That’s why I am strongly supporting Diane Buckshnis, Alicia Crank, Laura Johnson and Susan Paine for Edmonds City Council.

The Edmonds Marsh is an example of an important local issue that involves significant scientific data. Both Susan Paine and Laura Johnson are long-time members of the Save Our Marsh group, which has been championed by council member Diane Buckshnis. All three are fully informed of the issues and well prepared to lead us forward on marsh restoration. They are joined by Alicia Crank in working to also address climate change, smart development and environmental justice.

These candidates have proven their environmental leadership through previous actions in community service and elected positions. Edmonds is fortunate to have candidates of their caliber running for city council. I trust them with the future of our wonderful city.

Marjie Fields
Edmonds

16 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Why I support Buckshnis, Crank, Johnson and Paine for city council”

  1. Nothing specific was provided as demonstrated environmental leadership for my opponent- I hope Marjie or Alicia can list her record here so the readers can make their own side-by-side comparison of the environmental leadership shown by the candidates in the race for Position 5.

    Here is mine:
    1) Four years on the Edmonds Citizens’ Tree Board with regular attendance and leadership (current Co-Chair)
    2) Many volunteer hours working at “planting-” and “invasive control-” parties
    3) Attendance and/or participation in Watershed and Clean Water events and meetings of the Mayor’s Climate Protection Committee, “Save our Marsh” group, and the Edmonds Port Commission
    4) Support for the Zero Waste Initiative at Edmonds festival events (including two-time Co-Chair of Waste Warrior effort at Taste Edmonds)
    5) Personal support as well as written and verbal advocacy for reduction of plastic use and waste, separation and collection of compostables, and the Edmonds Marsh restoration project
    6) Proactive thought and conversations regarding the possible co-location of a waterfront connector and the Willow Creek daylighting project

    Vivian Olson
    Candidate, Edmonds City Council Position 5

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    1. The WA State Sierra Club has endorsed 28 candidates throughout the Sno-Isle Group’s region for the upcoming election. These include Alicia Crank, Susan Paine, Laura Johnson, and Diane Buckshnis for Edmonds City Council; Mike Nelson for Edmonds Mayor; Carin Chase, Nancy Katims and Rory Graves for Edmonds School Board; and Stephanie Wright for Snohomish County Council.

      As the Sno-Isle Sierra Club Group’s Political/Endorsement Committee lead, I can attest that a well-defined, non-partisan process for evaluating candidates is followed. Candidates are sent the Sierra Club Values questionnaire for their consideration. They are then selected for interviews based on their completed questionnaires, public positions taken on relevant issues, and other pertinent public information. Following the interviews, endorsements for local elections require two levels of approval (e.g., Sno-Isle Group Political/Endorsement Committee and Sno-Isle Group Executive Committee).

      Alicia Crank’s Sierra Club endorsement is based on her solid record of working collaboratively to address the vital public policy requirements of responsible environmental governance including climate change, smart development, and environmental justice. She is committed to open and transparent government and is knowledgeable and passionate about economic development, city planning, and social justice.

      Although the Sierra Club and Washington Conservation Voters are distinct organizations, they both share commitments to support environmentally responsible candidates expected to be environmental champions. It’s worth noting that Washington Conservation Voters has endorsed Alicia Crank, Susan Paine, Diane Buckshnis, Mike Nelson, Stephanie Wright, and Dave Sommers (for Snohomish County Executive) who are on the Edmonds ballot.

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      1. Mr. Senderoff was this process fair for all races in Snohomish county? I ask because Councilmember Buckshnis and Jenna Nand similar on policy so I’m curious why no dual endorsements? Also please correct me if this false. I’ve heard you work on the Councilmembers campaign so did you recuse yourself during the whole process?

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    2. Alicia Crank is the most qualified candidate for city council because of her demonstrated ability to lead. When she arrived in Edmonds over five years ago, she immediately got involved with the local community. This was nothing new for her. In the Bay Area, Alicia had participated in an equal number of activities.

      In Mountain View, Alicia was the Director for Leadership Mountain View (a program very similar to Leadership Snohomish County) for 6 years. In the online newspaper (patch.com/California/mountainview/leadership-mountain-view-director-steps-down), they wrote “Alicia‘s guidance and direction took the leadership program to a new level of awareness and physical sustainability. Alicia‘s talents, expertise and extraordinary energy will be missed in the community. She could always be seen around town making connections and sharing her knowledge.”

      This is exactly what she has brought to Edmonds, starting with her appointment to the Sister City Commission. She also served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, the Senior Center and the Noon Rotary Club. She currently serves as the vice chair of the Snohomish County Airport Commission. I first realized her talent while watching her on the Planning Board. Alicia always arrives completely prepared for the meeting. The questions she asks are always on point and clarifying.

      I participated in the International Women’s Day event that started as an opportunity for a few girls to attend a screening of the Captain Marvel movie and attend a panel with women in the community offering advice about the future. This began as a small event for about 100 girls with local women sponsoring. Eventually this became an event that included a networking luncheon for Edmonds working women and a screening for about 400 kids. Most importantly she had managed to get sponsorship from the Seattle Storm, Alaska Airlines and Swedish Medical Center, among other companies.

      Alicia’s corporate connections enables her to draw on a large resource port. She also has a large contingent of local people who are only too happy to follow her into the fray. Alicia left a career in corporate banking to pursue her passion for community involvement.

      As a woman of color and a two-time cancer survivor she has faced obstacles, Alicia doesn’t make excuse. She just keeps moving forward in a quest to improve the community. These qualities make Alicia the best candidate for position 5 on Edmonds City Council. Most of all, Alicia is FEARLESS.

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      1. I’m urging all Edmonds voters to join me in voting for Jenna Nand to replace Diane Buckshnis on our city council. Nand is a newcomer to our politics, but we know enough about her and Buckshnis to have confidence that she’ll be a positive change.
        Buckshnis having been a “bank regulator” makes her believe that her financial skills are superior to most anyone else in our city – including city finance directors. That belief has contributed to her causing the departure of two or three finance directors. I must question how financially competent she really is. In 2009 when city council was deliberating joining Fire District 1, and prior to her being appointed to city council in 2010, she often spoke about the wisdom of our city making such a move – she stated that it wouldn’t be a good financial move for us. The truth is that since the deal took effect in 2010 our city’s expenses have been reduced between $1 million and $2 million every year. To put that reduction into perspective, had those savings not been taken advantage of city services would have had to be cut, or the city’s financial reserves would have gradually been eliminated over the past ten years. Good thing Buckshnis was not on council in 2009 as she may have caused us not to join the fire district.
        Our city lost two department heads this past summer and some citizens believe that Buckshnis contributed to those departures. In an interview a couple of weeks ago Buckshnis said that the HR director, one of the two who departed, had been looking for a new job as early as February. That HR director recently contacted an other council member to tell him that wasn’t true; she only started looking immediately after city council did not accept a salary study that she conducted. We get more than enough untruths from Olympia and D.C.; we don’t need them from our local politicians.
        Buckshnis is completing her tenth year as a city council member. Her attendance record is reflecting that her enthusiasm for the job is waning. Thus far in 2019 she has missed 7 council meetings. The other six council members have missed only an average of 3 meetings.
        Prior to this election cycle I was not acquainted with Jenna Nand. Initially I was apprehensive about how much Nand knows about the workings of our city. After monitoring her performance at the different election events during the past several weeks it became obvious that she knows quite a bit about the various issues. I am confident that her extensive formal education, intelligence, and superior interpersonal skills would very quickly bring added value to our city council.
        Position 4 needs a change. Please vote for Jenna Nand.

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        1. Mr. Wambolt:
          My father’s advice when I was starting my banking career (1975) was: 1) Finance is a “man’s world” so learn to drink a “man’s drink” (Scotch) and play golf; 2) There are two sides to every story and stay true to your integrity as there are always people out there that look at life through anger, envy or jealousy; 3) There will always be people who seek to negatively critique your work.

          Mr. Wambolt’s main criticisms over the years have been directed towards my financial acumen and oversight capabilities. I can engage in a “he said – she said”, but instead let me start with exceptional news regarding Edmonds’ current financial strength.

          A priority of mine has been financial transparency, including financial reporting format, fund balances, reconciliations, and budget amendments. Throughout this effort, I worked with a number of finance directors, staff, citizens, and councilmembers. Last week, we learned that our collective effort paid off as Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings assigned a AAA credit rating to the City of Edmonds; a first in the city’s history. Few cities and states have attained this high rating. Importantly, this credit rating will translate into significant savings in the upcoming sale of Civic Park bonds. To reiterate, this was a collective effort over many years and we all should be proud of this achievement for the benefit of Edmonds citizens.

          That said, I must respond to Mr. Wambolt’s speculations by providing factual history.

          It’s true, I was persistent (along with others) in the efforts to revamp our financial management and reporting policies, so that Council and citizens could more easily understand how their money was being spent and if it was being spent wisely. Today, the City has total financial transparency in which all fund balances are reconciled and placed quarterly on the City website. Many contributed to this effort, but some resisted.

          For example, Finance Director Lorenzo Hines refused to make any changes to the financial statements or amendments being suggested by the Finance Committee. The proposed financial statement changes were patterned after Redmond as their Finance Director, Mr. Mike Bailey was helpful with me and citizens in understanding the whys and wherefores. However, Mr. Hines was insistent on having our General Fund being reported as a “modified working capital approach”, which led to unreconciled fund balances and lacked transparency. Mr. Hines stopped coming to Finance Committee meetings and filed a lawsuit against Finance Chair Michael Plunkett and myself. After the lawsuit was determined to be without merit, he moved on to a new opportunity.

          Finance Director Shawn Hunstock joined the Staff and proceeded to work cooperatively with the Finance Committee, making significant changes to enhance financial transparency and reconciliations. New policies were created, reserves were established, and the budget amendment process was revamped, bringing clarity to Council and citizens. Mr. Hunstock left to relocate close to family, but we still keep in touch and he endorsed my campaign.

          Roger Neumeier took over as Finance Director, after many financial management processes and policies were updated. Mr. Neumeier initiated a focus on the financial relationship between the Public Facilities District (PFD; Edmonds Center for the Arts) and the City.

          While reviewing the 2017 State Audit Report, I noticed the PFD’s net worth had doubled by approx. $5 million and a footnote indicated the City had removed a receivable of like amount via a prior period adjustment; Council had not been made aware of this transaction. The change did not seem proper, so I brought the issue up with the Council President, Mayor, Auditors, PFD Board, attorneys, and bond counsel to better understand its appropriateness. Many meetings ensued. Ultimately, I argued my case before the Governmental Standards Accounting Board (GASB). GASB agreed with my analysis and the City & PFD were required to restate their 2017 audited financial statements. Essentially, the prior period adjustment would have resulted in “forgiving” approx. $5 million in payments from the PFD, requiring the City to pay the approx. $5 million in bond payments.

          Rather than being thankful that I had caught this error, the Mayor (and Neumeier) made assertions in the media that communication between Council and the Administration had deteriorated so much that Mr. Neumeier was retiring.

          Scott James became Finance Director shortly thereafter and along with the Staff and Finance Committee we continued policy updates, including the important “fund balance” policy (a AAA rating requirement). I’m confident James would say that we have an honest, mutually respectful working relationship with collaboration and occasional disagreements which we effectively resolve. I’m very proud (as we all should be) of Mr. James and his Finance Team (Ms. Deb Sharp, Ms. Sarah Mager and Mr. Dave Turley) for their dedicated efforts (over the years) leading to the AAA rating.

          Mr. Wambolt also suggested I was to blame for the recent Staff departures of Mary Ann Hardie (Human Resources Director) and Carrie Hite (Parks & Recreation Director).

          First, let me say that I have great admiration for women willing to take “risks” to advance their careers. I know firsthand that these decisions are multifaceted and difficult but my career accomplishments wouldn’t have been achieved without making similar ones.

          An Edmonds Beacon article (5/22/2019) indicated Ms. Hardie accepted the position to become Human Resources Director in the City of Lacey on 5/16/2019; and she was looking forward to the new opportunity as well as living in Thurston County. Yet, the Mayor publicly alluded that comments I made during Council’s deliberations on 5/7/2019 resulted in Ms. Hardie’s departure and the subsequent media sensation was reminiscent of what occurred with Mr. Neumeier. Given the timing of Ms. Hardie’s resignation, it seems improbable that Lacey’s hiring process could have been initiated and finalized in 9 days (from the Council meeting to her resignation).

          Carrie Hite called to tell me her intentions to resign. We cried with both joy and sadness as she was offered a wonderful opportunity in Redmond but would be leaving Edmonds. We continue staying in touch and she is doing great, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

          Finally, Mr. Wambolt baselessly speculated my enthusiasm for serving as a Councilmember is waning; nothing could be further from the truth! Citizens that follow Council know I am always prepared. I may have missed some meetings due to family or travels, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lapsed on my commitments to our wonderful city and its myriad of possibilities, our engaged citizens, and our bright future!

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        2. I’d say Diane Buckshnis has a pretty good reply to your comment Ron Wambolt. I would encourage everyone to read it.

          Other than rooting for the Packers, Diane is just what Edmonds needs.

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  2. Marjie – Thank you for your vote of confidence and support.

    Vivian – Thank you for your volunteerism in the areas you have listed. It takes many hands in numerous areas to foster environmental leadership. Why I will not try to answer Marjie’s reasons for support, I am happy to supply the answers I gave around my environmental leadership which lead to earning sole endorsements for this position from both the Sierra Club and Washington Conservation Voters:

    1. I have worked hard to be a good environmental steward in my personal life – recycling, not wasting resources, and keeping in mind my responsibility to keeping our environment habitable. I also supported the plastic bag ban.

    2. I have also extended my involvement as a member of the City of Edmonds Planning Board, which I am currently serving my 3rd year, as well as serving in the Vice Chair role of the Snohomish County Airport Commission. Serving in these two groups allows me to have a distinctive voice regarding environmental issues when it comes to master planning.

    3. I support the Growth Management Act and Shoreline Management Act. Everything we do in Edmonds must have positive impacts for our environmental future. I will continue to advocate for green building practices as well as preserving and protecting the Edmonds Marsh.

    On a side note, this is the second time you have mentioned “attendance at meetings” when addressing me. I would like to know if there is a specific case or issue you are questioning. I do not claim to have 100% attendance to all of the board and committee meetings I am a part of (and kudos to those that do), but I do not recall any absences that I have had being a detriment. I would hate to think that any meeting that I may have missed over the past couple of years due to a work obligation where I am raising money to provide free services to community members or due to the times where my chemotherapy made it hard to attend would be seen as a negative.

    I do not want to assume that this is what you are referring to, so please let me know so I can address it.

    Thanks!
    ~Alicia Crank

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  3. Attending a meeting is not the same thing as understanding and supporting the issues that the group is working on.

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  4. Mr. Santos: Yes, the endorsement process was fair and consistent for candidates throughout the WA State Sierra Club | Sno-Isle Group region. As stated, two levels of approval are required for Sierra Club endorsements. The Sno-Isle Group Political/Endorsement Committee for this election cycle included eight committee members. Committee members were aware of support given to candidates in previous election cycles. And committee members refrained from providing direct support to candidates for the upcoming election, until the endorsement process was completed.

    It’s not appropriate to discuss specific details of candidate endorsement deliberations. But to reiterate, endorsements were based on questionnaires, interviews, public positions taken on relevant issues, and other pertinent public information. Councilmember Buckshnis was previously endorsed by the Sierra Club and has a nine year Edmonds City Council record. Her endorsement reflects her determined efforts to protect environmentally sensitive areas including the Edmonds Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary and Brackett’s Landing Conservation Area; intent to ensure implementation of the Urban Forest Management Plan to enhance tree canopy; and continue financial oversight as well as promoting social equity, neighborhood vitality, and sustainable economic development. As previously indicated, Councilmember Buckshnis received the sole endorsements from both the Sierra Club and the Washington Conservation Voters.

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  5. Mr. Lindeke:
    1) Ms. Buckshnis was elected to be a city council member, not an auditor; the city has auditors. Her primary financial function should be to maximize city revenues and minimize city expenses.
    2) She caused the departure of two competent finance directors, and a highly respected city attorney.
    3) She is calling Ms. Hardy, former HR director, a liar. I choose to believe Ms. Hardy.
    4) This year Ms. Buckshnis, because of family and travel – not illness, has missed more than twice as much time as the other six council members. Perhaps this year she should have skipped traveling to football games.

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  6. along with the rest of Edmonds , i’ll be glad when this election season is over whewwwwww

    Do your homework before you vote!!!

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