Letter to the editor: Consider the better options before choosing candidate Lora Petso

Editor:

As a resident of Edmonds who has been involved in charitable organizations, dedicated time to the Economic Development Commission, and have tried to present facts during critical votes that lead to positive momentum in the City of Edmonds, I am writing to express my concerns with voting Lora Petso back on the council. So far, the arguments against Will Chen and Janelle Cass have been unfounded and based solely on their ability to effectively build relationships both in and outside of their communities. Both of them come prepared and dedicated to a better Edmonds for all residents. I am certain that Lora Petso is not the best candidate in this race. A few salient points that I believe need to be brought back into light:

  • When I was a resident of the Five Corners area, the traffic was unbearable and the neighborhood needed a catalyst for redevelopment, beautification and to be brought into the fold outside of the Bowl area. Lora Petso voted against this important project that accomplished all of its goals. Five Corners is a focus area that will lead to further economic opportunity and the council, except for Lora Petso, put their money where their mouth was by investing in this project.
  • Lora Petso voted against the formation of the Public Facilities District. This district was formed to increase the visibility of Edmonds as both a community focused on cultural opportunities and bringing a greater emphasis on the arts in our community. Prior to COVID, the Edmonds Center for the Arts would host 80,000 visitors at a diverse collection of over 25 performances per year. John F. Kennedy said it well  “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”  The Center for the Arts, given Lora Petso’s stance, would not exist and the City of Edmonds would not have the benefit of cultural programs, a wide range of artistic expressions, summer camps, and just as important, the economic vitality this asset brings to the community.
  • Lora Petso voted no on the installation of a community solar project on city property at zero cost to the city.  From My Edmonds News ” After nearly two hours of debate, the Edmonds City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to approve a site lease for the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative to install a solar project on the city-owned Frances Anderson Center roof in downtown Edmonds. The lone “no” vote came from Councilmember Lora Petso, who said she wanted more time to study the proposal.” Solar panels (made in Washington) installed at zero cost, and an important working study on the benefits of solar alternative energy in our Community would have been held up for another “study.”
  • Lora Petso was the lone no vote in funding the Strategic Action Plan process. The Strategic Action Plan was intended to be the roadmap for the City of Edmonds to focus on those projects and initiatives that bring vitality to the City of Edmonds. Again, an important initiative that included public input would have been delayed and more city staff and public time would have been aimlessly spent getting to a plan to bring vitality and opportunity to the City of Edmonds.
  • I also find it ironic that Lora Petso makes the claim to have “led” the effort to create Hickman Park. The goal here was simple, avoid any development in her neighborhood. The City of Edmonds had always planned to develop a park in that neighborhood. This effort was not “led” by Lora Petso, this effort was led by the community, previous councils, and city staff.

These are just a few of the reasons that I am encouraging residents of Edmonds to carefully consider their vote for this city council position. More of the “same old” management isn’t going to move Edmonds forward in both a diverse and equitable way. I am not throwing my support in the ring for one of the other candidates. I am throwing my support and efforts to researching those two candidates as a better alternative to Lora Petso.

George Bennett
Edmonds

12 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Consider the better options before choosing candidate Lora Petso”

  1. Mr. Bennett-

    Thank you for the specifics. I have not reviewed the minutes or details, but here are the reasons as far as I can recall.

    Five corners: I think the public comment was about 50-50 on that project. Presumably I voted with about half, and you were among the other half. You won!

    PFD: Yes, after working months to help make the project happen, I voted against it in the end. At the time, my understanding was that we could not meet the requirement to “break ground” in time. Later, I enjoyed my years of service as Council liason to the PFD board.

    Community Solar: Nice sounding, but in my opinion the project started as an illegal gift of public funds to “accredited” investors. I believe the project was opened up, perhaps to all investors, but I suspect that if the City is collecting any rent, it is not market rate.

    Strategic Action Plan: Yes I voted against it. We could have saved all the time and money we invested in that plan, and could still have done whatever projects were needed through our comprehensive planning process.

    Hickman Park: I apologize if I claimed to have “led” the effort; my husband and I worked with many others to get this lovely park. In particular, the folks involved with SENA (Southwest Edmonds Neighborhood Association) put in a lot of work.

    Statistically, it seems unlikely that anyone would agree with all votes by any one Councilmember over a four year term (or more in this case). That is probably why we have seven Councilmembers, and provisions for public meetings, public comments, and Council discussion and debate.

    Ignored

  2. So my point is true. You voted on the wrong side of history. My facts are facts. You’re correct, statistically speaking, no one will ever agree with every decision a council member makes. Again, I appluad your service and dedication to our City. I also welcome and support the other candidates.

    Being a candidate for office in Edmonds isn’t a task I would take on. With that being said, I am challenging Edmonds to look throughly at the other two candidates. I have, and both present better alternatives.

    I didn’t always disagree with your positions. It was just the ones that really mattered and that’s what has me voting otherwise.

    Ignored

    1. Ray,

      I agree that Mr. Bennett’s unwarranted attack on Lora Petso is repulsive. Lora’s respectful response demonstrates her dedication to public service and to the residents of Edmonds.

      As a Council member in 2015, I proposed a town hall meeting to be held in the Westgate area to offer residents the opportunity to voice concerns about the proposed Westgate rezone. Lora Petso was the only one of my fellow Council members who supported this request. She located a venue for the meeting, coordinated set up, and attended the town hall meeting.

      At Council deliberations, Lora carefully prepared seven amendments to the proposed rezone. Three of those amendments were approved by Council. Here is a link to the myedmondsnews article report on that meeting:

      https://myedmondsnews.com/2015/04/rezone-of-edmonds-westgate-commercial-area-approved-with-amendments/

      Lora is the most qualified and experienced candidate running for Edmonds City Council. She has never sought the endorsement of a political party because she is truly non-partisan. She represents all Edmonds residents, with a laser focus on our quality of life.

      Lora Petso has my vote.

      Joan Bloom
      Former Edmonds City Council member 2012-2015

      Ignored

      1. I don’t get the repulsive part. I am mindful and respectful or her service, but as a voter and citizen respectfully asked difficult questions. That’s all. I don’t get the defensiveness. Change my mind instead of avoiding the questions.

        Ignored

  3. I voted for Lora Petso because I consider her a known quantity with a real independent streak. Your references to what you consider her “wrong” votes demonstrates to me that she is capable of independent votes, whether I agree with them or not. Her polite response to your somewhat negative (I would rather like to read why you want who you want, rather than why you don’t want L.P) LTE, shows me that she has good character and a track record whether you agree with it or not.

    Mr. Chen troubles me with accepting money from a political party and his seeming need to amass over $30,000 to run for a rather low paying and work intensive part-time job, when he already seems pretty much time committed even prior to what would be this additional burden on his available time. Just suspect this is a stepping stone for him, similar to what may have been Mr. Nelson’s motivation to run for Mayor.

    Ms. Cass is my strong second choice in the Primary. She lacks the experience on council but that doesn’t bother me too much. I liked her answers in the debate and pretty much agreed with all she said. I hope she and Lora make the General and I have a tough choice to make.

    Ignored

  4. George –While I wouldn’t call your comments repulsive, I would call them out of sync with the idea of voting your conscience. During the time I lived in Edmonds while Lora was on the City Council she seemed to devote a lot of time to understanding the issues in depth as opposed to several other Council members who appeared “asleep at the switch”. and not know much about the issues being voted on. Your main critisisms of Lora seem to be that she didn’t vote with the majority and some of her votes were against “more government”. I don’t believe that “more government” is the answer to all problems although there are many who do and seems to be where your heart is (at least from your comments). Finally, there has been a total breakdown of process on the City Council and I believe that Lora’s experience would take us back in the right direction.

    Ignored

    1. Thanks for the insight. I wouldn’t call my comments repulsive either. I never have and never will question the character of Lora Petso. She served faithfully on Council, and there is a large amount of respect from me for that service.

      I know there are three candidates currently trying to unseat Luke Distelhorst, an appointed Council member. In my opinion, any of the three is a better choice that will.shift the tone and direction of Council. I posed difficult questions that require some thought. For me, I am willing to select either Janelle or Will if my choices remain the same. While Luke is thoughtful, intelligent, and shows a great deal.of passion, I don’t agree with his direction. If Lora is the lone wolf standing during the election, then that’s the choice I make.

      For now, it’s not. I don’t think I created any obfuscation in my points, believe them to be accurate, and wasn’t trying to demean the candidate in any way.

      I stand by those points and albeit am taking a lot of flak for them. It’s an important election, we vote our conscience, and part of that is pointing out facts and asking questions.

      Ignored

    2. Good. This was informative and I liked Lora? My concerns are all about zoning issues questions answered now. Then on to other things.
      The territorial views are disappearing. I set and look and just shake my head, thinking what are they doing?
      I want to know exactly what is planned? Story’s, how many. 1.5 is all that is acceptable to me. I want none Actually. We have enough density
      …that has been said over and over.
      I believe we do. No to the split lots for profit.
      Too hard to watch and manage….
      I say if Edmonds Bowl was required to do this and there is room…then it wouldn’t be happening.
      So, there you have it. When it was said recently the beautification of Downtown Edmonds Bowl will be enough to preserve our cities charm, or something of that nature…I blew. Suggesting all uphill…will take on the multi unit idea….that was enough. I am actually switching parties…First time…I am a moderate but now I will be voting Republican. No…no one is truly bipartisan…maybe a Buddhist monk. Ha….but find me another. That part of our world is clearly on the decline.
      So, if it takes switching to stop Socialist lunacy so be it.
      I will email Lora Pesto. She was my original first choice then I saw Janelle and heard all those stories. So thought ok Cass. I like Lora’s personality. And yes that is important. Clearly so did Edmonds. Until….a vote, a change of ideals to the extreme…changed that.
      Thank You, for this piece. Deb

      Ignored

  5. My wife and I have been neighbors of Lora Petso and her husband Colin for twelve years. She supported our questioning of the city’s right to allow a private developer to “shoe horn” 28 new homes into the former public school property adjacent to Hickman Park. I would say that she has an extraordinary memory of complex public ordinances and building plans for the city and the county. I found her to be unafraid of the negative comments of people on the city council and its leadership and focused only on what she thought benefited the RESIDENTS of Edmonds. I think she is not a supporter of “Kirklandising” Edmonds. I think that she owes Nothing to the money interests in Edmonds and, as a member of the bar, I’m willing to bet she is probably not a “closet Bolshevik”. My wife and I are both well educated and not given to voting for incompetent candidates and she has our vote.

    Ignored

  6. It is time for me thank those who made such kind, and totally unsolicited, comments. Thank you!

    Deborah, please do contact me. From your comments that I have seen on this blog, I think your first instincts were correct. For over 20 years, I have worked, on Council and as a citizen, on some priorities we seem to have in common: protecting single family neighborhoods and adding parks. (I am sufficiently non-partisan to be excluded from presidential primary elections, if that matters.)

    Ignored

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