Letter to the editor: The reason behind ‘outside donations’ to Will Chen’s campaign

To the Editor:

Since today is the last day you’ll be publishing letters about candidates, we appreciate the opportunity to submit the following:  There has been concern that Will Chen has raised funds from outside Edmonds. It’s important to note that — after Janelle Cass — Will has raised more money from Edmonds than the other Position 2 council candidates combined. Where are these “outside” donations coming from? Many are from Will’s former professional colleagues, people who worked alongside him during his tenure in corporate finance. Many are from current and former clients (including low income or living on fixed income), who have benefitted from his financial guidance. Many are from members of service organizations to which Will has volunteered his leadership, expertise, and resources.

Think about that: people who in the past have worked with Will; or have been his clients; or have witnessed his dedication to public service, are now enthusiastically coming forward to support him. Why? Because they remember him as a person with integrity, competence and a strong work ethic. These endorsements are something to be proud of! It’s also of note that Will — who was a homeless 8 year-old child in China — came to this country in his early 20s not speaking English, and went on to earn two master’s degrees, in accounting and an MBA; passed the CPA exam; and since 2012 has owned a successful accounting firm in Edmonds, helping local business owners and residents.

Candace and Roger BelAir


  1. What percentage of funds is from outside Edmonds? 70-80% ? (trying to remember but Im sure I am in the ballpark). Most of Will’s storied resume is here in Edmonds, so you’d think it would be easiest to raise money right here in Edmonds. Taking everything for granted for a moment, accepting everything uncritically as to why the money was given, is it not a decision made by Will to accept the vast majority of money for a local election from outside of the electorate? The first decision made by Will on his journey towards city council is to get outside money, which is universally taboo in American Politics. Would he raise funds locally had he known this would be his biggest sticky wicket?

    1. Please note the endorsements Will Chen has received from 2 former mayors, several city council members in the past and present and other officials. What the city council needs is a person of character and integrity, plus one who knows how to be a good steward of resources. Will Chen has my vote!!!

  2. Thanks so much for an explanation in this letter, and Will Chen has my vote!!

    I’m also glad that we won’t have more letters to the editor during elections because I’ve read many that were spiteful, and it seems to me that spiteful voices feed on each other.

  3. Since when is raising money from outside your district “universally taboo”? Have you looked at where members of Congress raise their campaign funds? Do you not remember when Senator Bob Dole of Kansas was called was called the Senator from Gallo?

    1. You convinced me Pat. Funding a campaign mostly with outside money is okay now that you’ve brought up an old Republican Senator from Kansas.

  4. Edmonds is fortunate to have a slate of candidates for City Council, Position 2, offering many strengths. I would like to make two points regarding Will Chen:

    –HIS RESPONSE TO ACCUSATIONS about financial support from outside Edmonds has been one of thoughtful replies, explaining the community and professional ties supporting his candidacy — transparent, open, no counter accusation or hostility, just a considerate and useful answer.

    –LOOKING AT WHERE WILL CHEN BEGAN, with a period of homelessness in China, coming to the U.S. , leaving the plane of arrival and immediately starting work in a restaurant kitchen and, from there, educating himself, contributing as a citizen and professional in finance — he is a person bringing diversity and outstanding ability to solve problems and relate to others with respect, interest and a mutual concern. He has my vote, his record and response under attack, engender confidence and optimum suitability for Edmonds City Council . Dianna Maish

  5. Will’s campaign and demographics of donors speak to a bigger picture. I am not surprised donations are following Will’s journey. Will intrinsically and compassionately gives for the greater good. I know of individual examples where Will gave resources of time, knowledge and, or money when he had no expectation and, or way of knowing if he would receive anything in return, directly or indirectly. The City relies too heavily on resident funds. As a policy maker, Will has the diplomacy to work with Council Members. The Council will have an advocate to seriously consider community ideas on collaborative, healthy revenue sources without compromising the sanctity of Edmonds. On a tour of the 99 Corridor, Will shared an idea for along the route, of a contest of local and additional world artists. He among others, have the wherewithal to create a worldwide contest. This would expand Edmond’s attraction, revitalization, and pride. As we know, people want to be a part of a success story. Businesses may be more inclined to develop on the 99 corridor, and hopefully incorporate welcoming landscaping such as Will tends to the garden at his accounting firm. To create and sustain an intentional sustained environment, there is a need for documented benchmarks with realistic, set numeric targets to reduce area pollutants (air, traffic, noise, of noise, etc.) Reducing pollutants correlates with higher walk scores (which are not for just one portion of a city). Higher numbers increase property values, revenues to local businesses, competition for quality housing, and affordability to residents. Just as with the pollutants, the 99 corridor walk scores need documentation, numeric targets, and planned steps to implement, such as lighting, wider sidewalks, remedying less safe areas… The higher walk scores mean it is more convenient for people, who choose to walk, for errands and community enjoyment. Reduced dependency on vehicles circles back to lowering all of the above mentioned pollutants.

    Those who have had the opportunity to be a part of Will’s journey are fortunate. Will has integrity to make decisions on donation acceptance.

  6. Mr. Chen answered yes in the debate when asked if he had received any financial support from a political party and that the party was the Democratic Party. For that reason, I did not vote for him. I do not think it is appropriate for people running for a non-partisan position to accept funds from a purely partisan group, period. In the general I will vote only for a person who has not accepted funds from a political party assuming we do not end up with two persons who have accepted funds. I will not be voting for L.D. should he survive the primary. Mr. Chen, could in the end, get my vote, but I would much prefer a declared totally non partisan candidate win.

    1. Just wanted to clarify since I was moderating the debate — the question was whether someone sought an endorsement or was endorsed. Mr. Chen did ask for an endorsement from the 32nd District Democrats but they rejected him and endorsed Luke Distelhorst.

  7. Thanks for the clarification, Theresa. and my apology if I muddied the waters a bit here. This really doesn’t change my thinking on this any, however, since asking for the endorsement and being denied is almost as big a red flag to me as asking and being endorsed. Why is Mr. Chen asking for a partisan endorsement for a non-partisan position? If Mr. Chen is so determined to right the recent past wrongs about obvious partisan influence on our city politics, why would he even consider doing this? This is a good judgement and motivation question big time for me. He’s willfully participating in what many of us want to get rid of, and collecting a bunch of cash to do it. Why? This does not jibe logically with his obvious high intellect and abilities. I think this is a rather obvious stepping stone position move that might not be in Edmond’s best interest. Actions always speak louder than words.

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