As this election season draws to a close, it has become clear that Edmonds may not be ready to lift its veil of racism. In this election year we had a race for mayor and four city council positions. The Progressive Voters Guide endorsed Mike Nelson for Mayor; and Alicia Crank, Susan Paine and Laura Johnson for their respective positions. The guide also had a “you can’t go wrong” stance on the Buckshnis/Nand race. Nelson, Johnson, Buckshnis and Paine have all been elected. There seems to be a trend there: The majority of Edmonds voted on the progressive end. Yet the trend that carried the progressive city council and mayoral results somehow broke down and flipped when it came to the Crank/Olson race. We need to ask ourselves why.
Why did Edmonds vote progressive on all other races except council position #5? On paper, out of all eight city council candidates, Ms. Crank is arguably the most qualified. She has been a community, non-profit and business leader for over 20 years. She currently holds the position of Corporate Relations Officer for the YWCA. She has served on several boards and commissions in and around the city, including the Edmonds Senior Center, Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and the Edmonds Sister City Commission. She is currently serving on the Edmonds Planning Board and is Vice Chair of the Snohomish County Airport Commission. Her resume is very impressive. But she still lost. To a candidate whose professional experience does not quite measure up. Why?
It is unbelievable to me that Edmonds chose to be represented by someone who conducts themselves so carelessly. Someone who used a high school girls soccer team photo in campaign material, without parental consent for those minors and against WIAA rules- an ethical lapse that could have had real consequences for those girls. Someone who thought nothing of exploiting a local cultural event for their own political advantage. Someone who clearly lacks the understanding that behavior like that is not acceptable. The entitlement Ms. Olson showed throughout her campaign was appalling. It was showcased for all to see at the end of the My Edmonds News‘ Facebook Live interview when Ms. Olson asked Ms. Crank, “Why did you chose to run against me?” As if once Ms. Olson had declared her intent, no one had the right to challenge her.
Edmonds residents had the chance to elect four people of color in this election: two on city council, and two at the county court. I’m not saying race was 100% of the reason Alicia and other people of color were not elected, I’m just asking that we acknowledge it very well could be. It sure looks that way on paper.
If we are really going to have an open and prosperous community, we need to take a hard look at our own actions. Our biases clearly show in the results and that will negatively impact the welfare of our city. Please join me in encouraging Alicia Crank in applying for the vacant council seat left by Mike Nelson. Edmonds needs her leadership.
Publisher’s note: We gave Vivian Olson an opportunity to respond to this letter. Here is her written statement:
My opponent and I ran positive campaigns. Although my intention was only to work hard and do what I could to get the word out, shortcomings in my knowledge led to missteps including ads highlighting different hats I have worn over the years (the “Soccer Mom” one with my daughter and her t-shirted teammates among them). I hope those hurt will accept my sincere apology and give me a chance to re-earn their trust.
My pledge to representative government — and the trust the citizens have in me to follow through on this promise — generated widespread support throughout the city. I am grateful for it and am so excited to take on this role.
Citizens should weigh in with their elected officials on their choice for the upcoming councilmember appointment and on all things. We are elected to represent you.
— Vivian Olson