Letter to the editor: Oppose plan for additional mayoral powers


The following letter was sent to Edmonds City Councilmembers:

I was alarmed to learn that Mayor Nelson has requested emergency powers to be able to deal with the effects of the COVID crisis especially on businesses in Edmonds. I strongly object to this plan. Moreover, l am surprised that the members of the city council did not immediately reject his plan. It is a bad idea.

There are many reasons to reject his request for such powers:

The requested emergency authority is not necessary. The city council can meet on moment’s notice if necessary to deal with urgent issues that arise. Moreover, in his comment in MEN, Ken Reidy points out that we already have an emergency plan, the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP)*. The CEMP prioritizes minimizing economic disruption to the economy which makes the mayor’s need for emergency power to help businesses redundant and unnecessary. The mayor wants control over nine code areas that represent virtually every important area of Edmonds government and he wants the council to get out of his way.

It is a dereliction of duty for the city council to relinquish their role as the legislative branch of our city government. In so doing, the city council would be abandoning the mandate they were given by the citizens who voted them into office. In addition it is contrary to the history and practice of American governance to allow one person with complete “emergency” powers to be running the government. In America we expect to have several independent branches of government working together even in an emergency… one person rule is not acceptable.

We have a system of checks and balances for a reason; that reason is we do not want one person to be in complete control of our government. The city council should unanimously and unequivocally refuse to abdicate their authority to the the mayor for any period of time.

Gerald Bernstein, M.D.


4 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Oppose plan for additional mayoral powers”

  1. Our Mayor might be the worst mayor to give emergency powers to as well. He’s been in trouble with the WA State Attorney General for illegal electioneering, and he put Edmonds into a bad-faith legislative situation with the Safe Storage Law which was struck down by the Superior Court. Now he’s nullifying WA state driver license laws. Our mayor has a pattern of being extralegal.

    Can we give emergency powers to Kristiana Johnson instead?


  2. Having watched the Senate Committee on Un American Affairs Hearings when I was just a kid in the 50’s; I’m very suspicious of anyone who tries to lecture me on what is American and what isn’t. People’s lives were literally destroyed by an ideological political nut job. There are seven people on the city council and a vote will be taken in regards to the mayor being given emergency powers. I hope the issue fails because I don’t think it’s necessary. As to whether it would be un American or not for it to pass, that is just a matter of opinion.


  3. The HUAC hearings in the 1950s targeted individuals as being un-American. The letters Councilperson Kristiana Johnson and l wrote did not accuse anybody of being un-American. The clear purpose of the letters was to respond to the challenge proposed by Mayor Nelson to the American system of governance, namely the separation of the powers of government. Comparing the intent of our letters or positions to the HUAC hearings is erroneous.


  4. I encourage interested citizens to visit the City’s website and search for the City’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). When you find such document, you will note the following:
    1. The document name is: Microsoft Word – Edmonds CEMP August2015.docx
    2. A January, 2017 date at the bottom of each page.
    3. A notation that the CEMP was adopted on April 18, 2017. (FYI, this was via Resolution No. 1386)
    4. Reference to Ordinance 2224 (FYI, this was effective in the early 1980’s)
    5. Reference to Municipal Code 6.60
    City Council had an update to Municipal Code 6.60 on its September 15, 2020 agenda. It was pulled from the agenda after Mayor Nelson said it was not ready for Council review yet. I encourage City Officials to inform the public when review of Municipal Code 6.60 will be brought back to City Council for consideration.

    Resolution 1386 informs us that “Washington State law requires the CEMP to be reviewed and updated at least once every two calendar years”.

    That did not get done.

    I encourage City Officials to inform the public when the review and update to the CEMP will be executed.


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