Election 2021: Tibbott comes out swinging as he launches council campaign

Neil Tibbott stresses his core message of bringing political climate change to city government, an end to partisan politics, and restoring balance, civility and respect.

Former Edmonds City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Neil Tibbott kicked off his campaign to rejoin the city council in a gala Thursday evening bash at the Edmonds Yacht Club.  The event took full advantage of Gov. Inslee’s action to roll back most COVID restrictions, with more than 120 mostly unmasked supporters filling the downstairs ballroom, where they enjoyed light snacks, listened to live music and heard remarks from key supporters.

After spending years on the Citizens Transportation Commission and the Planning Board, Tibbott was elected to the city council in 2016,  He abandoned his plans to run for re-election in 2020, opting instead to throw his hat in the mayoral ring, where he joined a field of three other candidates – city planner Brad Shipley and fellow councilmembers Kristiana Johnson and Mike Nelson.  As the two top vote-getters in the primary, he and Nelson advanced to the November election, where he was defeated, earning 46.7 percent of the vote to Nelson’s 52.9 (the remainder were write-ins).

The current race pits Tibbott against Position 3 incumbent and 11-year councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas. Since they are the only two candidates in the field, both are assured a place on the November ballot. (The final slate of candidates for the remaining council races – Positions 1 and 3 – will be decided in the Aug. 3 primary.)

The evening began with a welcome from former Emdonds Mayor Dave Earling, who wasted no time getting into the key issue in the upcoming election: the need for change in city government.

“Many of you pay attention to what’s going on in our city, and are uncomfortable with the current council and mayor,” he began. “We now have a chance to change this with a good, thoughtful, thorough candidate – Neil Tibbott.  I support him wholeheartedly.”

Earling then introduced Jeff Lewis to emcee the event.  In addition to being an independent business owner, Lewis has 30 years in the banking industry and – significantly – was Neil Tibbott’s college roommate at the University of Washington. After briefly welcoming attendees, Lewis introduced the first speaker, Edmonds resident, business owner and college basketball star Jordan Monroe.  She is also the wife of 2020 city council candidate Nathan Monroe, and as of last month a new mom.

Business owner Jordan Monroe talked about leadership and commitment, stating that Tibbott would leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

“I want to talk with you about two things tonight — leadership and legacy,” she began. “True leaders keep showing up – they have commitment and compassion – and Neil Tibbott has both.

“To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about legacy until last month,” she laughed.  “But with the birth of my son and first child Archer only five weeks ago, I found myself thinking about what kind of legacy this city will leave him when I’m no longer here. Neil and (his wife) Margaret have raised kids here. They know what it’s all about. The future will be safe with them.”

The next speaker was Mike Rohrbach, Tibbott’s neighbor, decades-long friend, Husky linebacker on the championship 1978 Rose Bowl team, 40-year Edmonds resident, and executive director of the youth sports organization Run to Win.

“I’ve had the chance to know and work with a number of great – and some not-so-great –  people over the years,” he explained.  “Let me assure you — Neil is one of the great people.  He’s a neighbor, friend, influencer for change for what is important and good in our society. He’ll provide strong leadership, so let’s get him in office and change our community for the better.”

Councilmember Kristiana Johnson stressed her full support of Tibbott, recalling her 14 years of working with him in several capacities.

Next to speak was friend, former mayoral candidate, and 12-year Edmonds City Councilmember Kristiana Johnson.

“I have one simple message for you,” she began. “We need Neil back on City Council!”

Once the enthusiastic applause died down, Johnson continued, saying, “I’ve known and worked with Neil for 14 years.  Neil knows about communication, he will talk with you about what you and the community need, he will read his councilmember packet [this remark drew laughs from the audience], he will ask critical questions, and he will talk to his fellow councilmembers.  He’s a gentleman, quiet and hard-working.”

Taking a serious tone for a moment, Johnson gave a personal apology stemming from the 2020 mayor’s race.

“I’m here to say I’m sorry,” she said.  “After I was eliminated in the primary, I endorsed the wrong candidate – I backed the wrong horse. The current mayor has stopped talking to me entirely. And why should he? He’s got his four votes all lined up. We need Neil back on council for a return to effective checks and balances and good governance. I know he can get the job done. He’s done it before. He needs our support.  I’ve already written him a check for $500. He has my full endorsement.

“And with that it is my great pleasure to introduce the man of the hour, Neil Tibbott!”

Taking the podium, Tibbott began by praising Edmonds as an “incredible place to live” and recognizing others in the audience including former Police Chief Al Compaan, former Mayors Earling and Haakenson, current and former councilmembers Kristiana Johnson, Vivian Olson and Ron Wambolt, and former Snohomish County Councilmember Gary Nelson (“that’s no relation to Mike Nelson,” Nelson yelled from the back of the room), Port Commissioners Jim Orvis and Steve Johnston, and current council candidates Janelle Cass and Will Chen.

“We have some important things to talk about,” Tibbott began. “Edmonds is a great place to live, we love being here, we enjoy the city. But we have a problem — the political climate has changed for the worse. Sadly we have some councilmembers who mimic the partisan politics we see in Washington, D.C. and Olympia. They ignore important issues that need to be addressed. There is a lack of civility.”

“We know what the issues are,” he continued. “Protecting our homes, housing and neighborhoods. Supporting police and fire. Improving the environment.  Maintaining parks, businesses, schools. These are the issues that rise to the top and bring us together.”

Tibbott and family, from left: daughter Molly, Neil Tibbott, mother-in law Norma Carrillo, and wife Margaret.

He went on to speak about the situation exemplified by a few councilmembers – “the gang of four” – who he said are more concerned about making political points than doing what’s best for Edmonds.

“It seems like they will do anything to push their partisan agenda,” he explained. “They’ll move up meetings, push back hearings, surprise us with last-minute ordinances that force late-night meetings, all instead of focusing on the priorities in front of them. Transparency is at an all-time low. Will someone please just return their phone calls! Now wouldn’t that be nice. We need to clean up the mess at city hall.

“Therefore, my top campaign priority is this – political climate change for the City of Edmonds,” he stressed. “City hall has become a toxic waste place. It’s time for civility and people to be the priority, not political posturing.”

Taking aim at Fraley-Monillas, Tibbott cited Mayor Nelson’s request in December for enhanced emergency powers. Despite all other councilmembers opposing the measure, Tibbott noted that his opponent continued to argue for giving the mayor more authority.

“This kind of political posturing must end,” he emphasized. “And replacing my opponent holds the key to making that change.”

Moving on to other issues, Tibbott stressed the need to get back to things like stormwater systems (“not a terribly sexy issue, but I’m kinda wonky about it”), and the critical areas ordinance.

He went on to outline his commitments, noting that there will be more as the campaign progresses. These include improving the environment, with particular attention to the Edmonds Marsh (“who ever knew it could take this long”), to leave a lasting legacy for our city.

“I know I don’t have the greatest reputation for supporting the marsh,” he added.  “But I’ve turned the corner on this, I apologize for my earlier lack of full commitment, and I look forward to taking an active role.”

Supporters filled the Edmonds Yacht Club on Thursday evening in support of Neil Tibbott’s bid to return to the Edmonds City Council.

Other commitments mentioned by Tibbott include supporting police and protecting neighborhoods and single-family homes.

“I could say a lot about the police chief selection debacle, a sad state of affairs my opponent led us into,” he said. “It’s taken too long and cost too much.  I have nothing but respect and praise for the men and women of the Edmonds Police Department who throughout this have done their jobs with professionalism. This is no time to cut funding for police – it’s time to increase their training budget, let them know we have their backs, and give them what they need to do their jobs.”

On housing and housing affordability, Tibbott was clear that this is a regional problem that demands a regional solution, and that Edmonds simply can’t solve it alone.

“I’m willing to go to work with our regional leaders to address this,” he said. “But I’m not willing to sacrifice the livability of our city on this regional problem.”

In conclusion, he returned to his core theme of political climate change for Edmonds.

The youngest Tibbott supporter to attend was 5-week-old Archer Paxton Monroe, here with mom and dad, Jordan and Nathan Monroe, and grandmother Mary Monroe, former chair of the Edmonds Citizens Economic Development Commission.

“We can’t change the mayor in this election cycle, but we can change the makeup of the city council,” he began. “We need to break down the wall of partisan politics that is undermining effective government. We need to restore balance, civility, and respect.

“We are fighting an opponent who is backed by a well-oiled political machine,” he warned.  “They are professional, experienced, occasionally ruthless, well-financed, and completely focused on one thing – getting their candidate elected. They will do anything to ensure my opponent’s re-election.

“Our focus is different,” he concluded.  “We do what’s best for Edmonds. Remember – you’re not electing me to wield political power. I’m not interested in political power. You’re electing me to support an environment of respect, teamwork, communication, collaboration and finding the best solutions for our city. I’m Neil Tibbott, and I’m asking for your vote.”

Learn more about Neil Tibbott at his campaign website, reelecttibbott.org.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel


  1. So….he’s aligning himself with failed candidates and Trump supporters? This will break the same way as the mayoral race. He’ll earn 45% of the vote and lose, but to his credit he’ll at least accept the truth instead going full Trump and stopping one count, starting another, then suing 48 times without evidence only to lose every time.

    1. Neal Tibbott is the antithesis of Trump. You obviously know nothing about the Neil or his beliefs.

      1. Robert, you don’t understand. Everyone not running a campaign that mirrors DC politics is a die hard Trump supporter, which as we all know, means they are basically fascist dictators.

        I joke.

    2. James, probably best if you don’t make assumptions about people. I have never, nor will I ever support Trump or anyone who aligns themselves with Trump. I voted for our current mayor, as well as Mr. Tibbott’s opponent in this race. I won’t repeat either of those mistakes again, and I support Neil Tibbott 100% in his bid for council seat #3.

    3. Have you actually looked at any Council minutes? Decisions? I have. Reach out to Neil and ask the hard questions you have, you’ll actually get a response.

      As a moderate blue, I cannot draw a single parallel as you have. I would like to hear the facts you have, I hear plenty of political rhetoric from Councilperson Fraley-Monillas but seem to get facts from Mr. Tibbott.

  2. Don’t understand how Trump is anyway involved in this subject. Forget the Trump and focus on what is best for Edmonds.
    Neil Tibbott wants to move Edmonds government back to a democracy. He is supportive of a government that works for the people that live here. His message is pretty clear and it supports us, the citizens. Get out and support this man. We need him to help repair the damage done by the current administration.

  3. Neil Tibbott is the right person at the right time. Our city needs his leadership and insights.

      1. Sam – glad we agree about candidate Tibbott, he’s definitely the right person for the job. Met him at a gathering once and liked him immediately. I’d say he’s mostly scholarly, little bit of spork.

  4. Neil if far from perfect (just ask him). The only candidate thus far who doesn’t seem entitled to win. He’s a spork, a great compromise between different things, and compromising and understanding is what Edmonds is about. I endorse Neil. The best person for this job.

    1. Me Too. Where does he stand on this upcoding zoning what ever…This I do need to know to be sure. You know Matt?

  5. The more I hear about him the more convinced I am he is a definite yes. I want to flip this Council. I need to know more about Kristinia where she stands, Johnson she seems like on of the 4. WHO are the 4 exactly. I know Luke is one I think Johnson too…Someone just 4 last names of the ones that are in print as the 4 who go with Nelson every time…

    1. The four are Adrienne Fraley-Monillas who Neil is running against, and she is the leader of the pack. The others are Luke Distelhorst(opposed by Cass, Chen and Petso), Susan Paine current Council President, and Laura Johnson.

      Kristiana Johnson is an honest, transparent Council member who has opposed much of the goofiness that has been supported by the Mayor and the 4. She is opposed by Alicia Crank who has served the public, but seems to have the support of the 4 which is concerning to me.

      Will Chen is a fine fellow, but I believe the stronger candidate is Janelle Cass. You should look over her website, and talk with her. She has a very impressive background and is a local businesswoman.

    2. Distelhorst (Position #2), Fraley-Monillas (Position #3), Paine (Position #6), and Laura Johnson (Position #7) are the four who appear to serve at the pleasure of Mike Nelson.

      Position #1 (Kristiana Johnson), Position #2 (Distelhorst) and Position #3 (Fraley-Monillas) are up for re-election.

  6. Neil is a decent person from my interactions willing to listen and actually respond to residents dealing with real issues in the city. I have been beyond blown away by his willingness to listen to constituents and hear them out. He certainly has the best interests of our city in mind. Not only that, he is supported by another candidate I have had many interactions with, that being Will Chen. It will be a vote for Tibbot and Chen in my household. Great article, as always.

  7. Thank you Helen,
    Agree with you totally. This is the only way to stop the madness. The final option if you will…we’ll clean up the rest in November.

  8. I’m definitely going to vote for Mr. Tibbot. I really respect his apology on the Marsh issue.
    It takes guts and shows great respect for the voters to do that. People who can admit they were wrong are generally good people.
    Thanks Mr. Tibbot.

    1. It’s pretty crazy when Clint and I agree on something. Tibbot did a good job building broad appeal. I don’t want to say anything more to ruin the obvious common-ground he represents for the city. Not a lot of people can do that. No one can do it quickly.

  9. Neil has served the citizens of this area with integrity for years. And I have never seen him divide our community for political gain. If we have any chance of holding off the remaking of America through zoning threats disguised as infrastructure, our local leaders will need to represent us, not their political party.

  10. The Homestead Act removes the right of local government to zone. Say goodbye to single family housing, building height restrictions. Again, like I pointed out about our Mayor and how he really haswn;t been tricking anyone, ya’ll for this. Your single family house is now defined as “infrastructure” and is taking up too much space.


  11. It was great to see Kristiana Johnson at Neil’s event. She had some health issues last year that slowed her a little, but it’s clear she’s now restored~ looking and sounding stronger than ever. Neil will need allies like Kristiana when he returns to City Council.

    Among the three councilmembers on the ballot this year, Kristiana is the independent thinker, always seeking what’s best for Edmonds, not working some hidden political agenda. Most importantly, she is NOT part of the Bloc of Four that controls everything that happens on City Council.

  12. yes, yes, yes! the political direction needs to change, support Tibbott. next get rid of this partisan incompetent hack of a mayor.

    1. The WA. Democratic Party did to Edmonds what the Republican Neo Con party has been doing for years to local City Councils, County Councils, and School Boards thru out the country, not to mention packing the Supreme Court with Conservative Justices to the point of stealing one position from Obama.

      My point is, it isn’t a good thing from either direction and you reap what you sow. Edmonds has paid the price for what is little more than the theft of a proven political power strategy from the Right. Irrational partisanship is what is killing Edmonds and the Country as a whole. Hopefully Mr. Tibbot and some like minded moderate thinking Council people can get Edmonds back on the right track at least. Common sense decisions that solve real problems for real people would be nice for a change , locally and nationally.

  13. Neil Tibbot is an excellent candidate who listens to the Citizens of Edmonds and wants what’s best long term for our charming City.
    Adrienne F-M and Mayor Nelson operate on their own agendas and could care less what the Citizens want.
    Neil will do an excellent job and bring some sanity back to our City Council.

  14. Chen looks like a real good leader type, pragmatic sort of person. Crank is going to fall in line and toe the line and the running up against Johnson tells us all that.

    1. No for Chen. Yes for Lora Pesto. She is the most experienced where she needs to be for council. She is very very well educated. She is in my opinion the best and safest choice.

      1. Thanks for the comment! Yes, I am a safe choice! I am a longtime resident, with a record that can be verified by researching City Council minutes 2000-2003 and 7/2010-12/2015. Assuming that no one would want to actually do that research, the short story is: yes, I will listen to people and do my best for our community.

  15. Don’t expect any change as long as the people in charge aren’t even acknowledged. Western Washington is single party. That isn’t saying Greens, Independents, Libertarians or the evil Republicans would be doing a better job. It is just saying they have zero political input in our region. The last neo-con in this area was Scoop Jackson (D). He may have been big on the environment but he was right up with Wolfowitz in developing military interventionist policy. We don’t have healthy debate about policy in this state. The only question is which Democrat you want?You can’t get elected dogcatcher on this side of the mountains unless you are a D. So much for our vaunted tolerance and diversity? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last Republican mayor of Seattle was in the 1930’s. Blaming any other political party is like blaming bigfoot for homelessness.

    1. Mayor Murray was up to some pretty bad stuff with some vulnerable young men. Democrats re-elected him. People wouldn’t cross the party line even for that reason. Ubax Gardheere, currently a Equity Committee chairwoman in Seattle, is running for King County Council. She’s on video threatening to blow up a bus full of kids. She’s a Democrat though. There are two standards. “Are we the baddies?”


  16. I’d say blaming any political party for homelessness is like blaming Bigfoot for homelessness. R’s and D’s didn’t invent or advocate the exponential growth of mental illness, substance addiction or poverty. Those are just aspects of life as it is in the richest country ever on the face of the Earth. The question is why is this rich country having so much of these problems you would normally expect to see in underdeveloped third World countries.

    I haven’t seen any thoughtful ideas for solving our problems coming from the Right since Reagan and Gov. Dan Evans, neither of which would be particularly welcome in the Republican Party of Trump and recent Gov. candidate Culp. No ideas, just uber patriotism and calling all liberals unpatriotic Socialists or Communists. Not much thought process going on there.

    On the flip side the liberals come up with brilliant ideas like de-funding the police and forcing solid middle class neighborhoods to accept low income housing and rehab. centers of all sorts. No wonder everyone is p. o.’d at each other. Stupid ideas are no better than no ideas as far as I can see.

    I’m just hoping Tibbot, K.J., W.C. or J.C. or L.P. can join D.B. and V.O. to break this liberal cabal and put some brakes on Nelson and Paine’s liberal agenda for Edmonds. We need to get a District concept going and start actually talking with each other rather than just one side telling the other what’s good for them. I’m sick and tired of politicians and their over loyal, unthinking drones telling me what I should think about anything – tree code, homelessness, up zoning or anything else.

    1. Amen. In my conversations and dealings with Neil, he is honest and humble. His agenda has always been thoughtful and transparent. All one really has to do is compare records. Rhetoric or results. Unfortunately, AFM gets the wrong results from continued convenient trigger speech. If we want a protest council member, keep voting AFM. The Citizens of Edmonds will continue to see the circus acts take place at City Hall and within Council. Let’s get back to a traditional 3 ring circus and get AFM out of the fourth ring.

      Neil has my vote.

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