Letter to the editor: Time to make council meetings more efficient and professional


The goodwill and extensive investment of time between and during city council meetings are recognized. As it is near a full-time job, city councilmembers deserve more money; however, the economic times are not right. It is natural to learn while working, especially in elected positions.  Even for the councilmembers who have been in office for multiple terms, they continue to learn patience.

Based on Aug.4 and many prior meetings, the city councilmembers are requesting more efficient and professional city council meetings, including accountability. Regarding weekly city council meetings, is this fair to the councilmembers and ultimately us, the citizens? What about time for review, speaking with constituents, staff, and time to process, especially when it comes to action items.

Council President Fraley-Monillas stated something to the effect of more can be accomplished during meetings. If she clocked her time, she might be surprised by her repetitive statements. She may also review her authority and responsibility. When the mayor is given the power by the council to speak, it is the council president’s role to take over facilitating the meeting. The mayor is not to play both roles.

Councilmember Kristiana Johnson has, at more than one meeting, formerly requested the mayor to keep track of motions and to keep the discussion on the topic. Conversations held within the motion or amendment create more efficient meetings. City councilmembers, not necessarily to their fault, have often shown to be lost or confused as to the more specific discussion’s topic, including at the Aug. 4 meeting.

If facilitating systems are not second nature, kindly review Roberts Rules of Order or other parliamentary procedures. Do whatever is necessary to make the meetings smoother, more efficient, professional, and continue to keep them amiable.

All of you deal with conflict daily, and COVID has added stress. Without going outside the rules, do whatever is in your power to help each other ease the process. One example, during the most recent meeting, you respected and honored councilmember Olson’s request for more time to review a subject on which citizens are divided. Regardless of views on a topic, that behavior appears to be a sign of councilmembers supporting each other and looking out for the greater good of their constituents.

Thank you,

Lori Rasmussen



5 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Time to make council meetings more efficient and professional”

  1. Most people are familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order and it works. Robert’s and similar rules keep meetings on track and moving smoothly. If Council does not have such rules in place now, I urge Council to adopt Robert’s immediately and to establish methods to adhere to Robert’s.


  2. Ron Wambolt,

    I am curious about your question. To gain support in a debate or argument, individuals often use a distraction tactic to move away from the issue (in this case, the content of the Letter to the Editor). Ron, I volley to you, to bravely comment, regardless of years, if any, of either of us, or any of us in Edmonds. Over the years, as an observer of Edmonds City Council Meetings, what are your thoughts on the raised issues in the LTE?

    Thank you.


    1. Lori, just presuming here but I suspect Ron’s question of how long you’ve lived here, or a better question of how long have you been involved in council meetings is in regard to the general comments of some that “maybe we should employ Robert’s Rules”. The reason this comes up is because I used to be involved in Edmonds city boards and many council meetings. Roberts Rules were the order of the day. And Ron used to be a council member. I’m not attending the council meeting these days but it sounds as if this protocol is slipping away?

      In 2003 time frame when I was on the Historic Preservation Commission I actually bought a book on Roberts Rules to learn it so I could run our meetings. Not exactly a natural way of doing business (exact opposite of my day job) but it does keep things on track. Council was very strictly run the same way. Sounds like we may have slipped from this by what I’m reading in people’s comments.


  3. On July 16, 2013, after much discussion, City Council repealed Resolution 292 via Resolution 1295 and adopted Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th Edition, as its official rules for conducting council meetings. The City Council was clear that the city official serving as parliamentarian should consult this version of Robert’s Rules when asked to provide guidance on a procedural question. City Council decided that members wishing to use a shorter version of Robert’s Rules for their own convenience should use Robert’s Rules of Order In Brief, but the council does not recognize this volume as an authority nor as the city council’s official rules.
    City Council decided to get specific and adopted the following modifications to the Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th Edition:
    1. Contrary to the ** footnote on Page 35 and first bullet point on page 488, motions before the city council must be seconded.
    2. Contrary to page 43, line 23 of Robert’s Rules of Order, The Mayor participates in discussion and debate only with the permission of the Council and does not make motions. Tiebreaker votes by the Mayor will be as provided by Washington State law.
    City Council concluded by saying that any matter of order or procedure not covered by the modifications set forth in this resolution shall be decided by the presiding officer pursuant to state law, city ordinance, and Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition (in that order of priority), with the assistance and advice of the City Attorney.
    I don’t recall Mayor Nelson asking City Council for permission during the June 23, 2020 City Council meeting before making his several minutes long comment about Councilmember Kristiana Johnson’s email.
    Mayor Nelson also did not rule on her point of order request that followed his lengthy comments.


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