Letter to the editor: Why I’m voting for Janelle Cass


Full disclosure, I am one of the leads on Janelle Cass’s campaign.

How did my involvement with Janelle get me here and how did Janelle get in the running for Edmonds City Council Position 2 in February 2021?

In October or November of 2020, I was asked to join a group of Edmonds citizens that were coming together initially with the purpose to identify and recruit citizens to run for non-partisan elected office. We/they believed that non-partisan, good government is possible. That group is now known as the Edmonds Civic Roundtable. I am not speaking for them in this letter. We divided into committees and my committee (I was one of two) was tasked with going out into our community to see who was out there willing and qualified to run for non-partisan office. I, and my co-chair, spoke with and interviewed countless individuals. Out of these, we identified a handful who were willing to look at running for office — Port position, city council. One was Janelle Cass.

We had some good, solid candidates and I personally was asked to join, work and support their campaigns. I looked at all of them and knew that if I was to do any of them justice, I could only choose one to join,  I chose to work for and joined Janelle Cass.

Allow me to digress for a moment. I had already witnessed the entire selection process of the chief of police and the cries by some to defund our police force. I had attended some housing commission meetings where rezoning our single-family housing was being talked about and apparently being pushed through without complete information or buy-in by our community a large. It seemed to me that decisions had already been made at city hall and these meetings were merely for show. I had heard some on Edmonds City Council and the mayor declare that Edmonds was a racist community and the entire police department needed to change and become more diverse, more responsive to our community, and better serve it. At this time, Acting Chief of Police Jim Lawless and Former Chief of Police Al Compaan had already made huge strides in this area over the past several years but this wasn’t acknowledged by Mayor Nelson or some on Edmonds City Council. These were just two issues of concern to me. So when I met Janelle a few months later and heard her views and concerns on these same issues, and others, I felt that possibly our beautiful Edmonds community had a chance at surviving; that we had a chance to turn things around and not face the struggles that some of our neighboring communities have had to experience.

So I began in earnest to try and convince Janelle to run for Edmonds City Council. She was deliberative in making her decision to run. As is her typical way in decision-making, she had to look at and analyze the many issues and reasons for her to take on this endeavor. In February she announced her candidacy and true to my promise to her, if she would run for this office, I would stand by her and work diligently to get her elected to bring back our Edmonds. To work to restore it, to make our city government more transparent, to reach out to our community on issues such as the selection of our chief of police, and housing issues, to look at and analyze the data before making critical decisions that affect our community — health and public safety and issues affecting Edmonds — were all at the forefront in Janelle’s decision to run for city council. And to look at just what rezoning would mean to Edmonds, how the building of attached and detached housing units would impact our environment were further concerns for her.

Janelle’s background and area of expertise is in civil and environmental engineering.  She is analytical and will not jump to conclusions in decision making. She will not go along to get along, She is an independent, critical thinker. One of the things that is so refreshing to me about Janelle is that she will take a stand and then defend it. She won’t and doesn’t take a position because that is the one that is politically woke to take. She doesn’t put her finger to the wind, as they say, to see which way the wind is blowing before answering a question. Janelle is Janelle no matter what the issue, which day of the week it is, or who is asking the question. Your name or title don’t figure into how she will vote while representing you on council. She will vote to protect and invest in Edmonds and not allow influences outside of Edmonds to color her commitment to our city. She is for all of Edmonds. As a registered nurse I share this approach – look at the data, ask the questions that need to be asked, weigh the pros and cons, bring in the stakeholders, and then make a decision.

Janelle is a business owner — Ohana Hyperbarics. She knows the challenges of being a business owner. She knows what it means to look at the business finances and how dollars need to and will be spent. She won’t be writing checks from the tax dollars you have entrusted the city to spend without carefully weighing the need for the expenditure and how it will be paid for.

This is why you should vote for Janelle Cass today.

Theresa Campa Hutchison
Ret. Registered Nurse

  1. Theresa,
    Thank you for your letter re Janelle Cass. Janelle came across at the debate with some of the same qualities you list in your letter. It is good to hear from someone that has worked closely with her and has observed her decision-making and her strengths in general, including analytical and independent-thinking. She appears to be a strong candidate, a fierce defender of her positions. I believe she is our best candidate for Position 2.

    Here is one question I would love to have answered, “how does she work with others?” We have a council now that does not work well together. Is she able to listen to others and defend her position and maintain a good working relationship with others when in opposition to their position on issues? Got any examples that demonstrate these qualities?

    1. Having recently moved here and knowing nothing about the candidates, I attended the recent debate. Therefore I am surprised you tout Janelle Cass as being able to work with others. On a question about diversity, she criticized Luke Disteldorst for filing for the interim Council seat because there where other applicants who people of color. She said this while sitting next to Will Chen, not realizing the irony of such criticism coming from her. Later, apparently referring to Mr. Chen raising money from friends and relatives outside Edmonds, she asked him whether he would really be representing Edmonds or outsiders. In both cases, she came off as snarky and attempting to score points rather than address serious issues.

      1. I felt the same way. I do believe she had a well researched understanding of issues. She’d done her homework so for those reasons I will not be disappointed if she wins the primary. It was her demeanor during her perceived gotcha moments that didn’t sit well with me. Some of that can be attributed to her vocal supporters in attendance. For me it felt like a lot of ego at the expense of the other candidates. Mutual respect on the council is important.

  2. I understand that the city council positions are “non-partisan”, but how do you ensure that a candidate is or is not themselves a “non-partisan” policymaker? In the absence of any history of actual policy making role to audit, I don’t see how one verifies the claim. Are you able to look at their past voting records to track all of the politicians and issues the candidate has endorsed with their votes and identify deviations from a specific party line? What actual metrics do we have for determining that an individual is or is not “partisan”?

    1. I truly feel its been a long time since anyone is or can be totally non-partisan. Every one I would say 6 years old and up is Partisan ha. Its just to what degree. I am a Centrist a Moderate who normally votes Democrat. However, now that the Democratic party especially out west here and up and down the West Coast so many horrid things have occurred due to anarchy, idiocy, selfishness, non compliance….All of it we have a hell of a mess. SO that to me says we need to even it out. This is why my vote will be split this year. Since it is impossible for council members to really be non-partisan we need a more diverse city council… One side when there shouldn’t even be one side…means to me that each side needs to get their choice (citizens) once in a while…seems fair to me.

  3. A few months ago, I knew little about the candidates running for position 2, but after meeting and talking with Janelle Cass, I was ‘all in’. She has all the qualifications mentioned in Theresa’s letter and is a lovely person to be around. I find her to be decisive, problem solving and able to work with and direct others. My vote goes to Janelle.

  4. Theresa, I appreciate your in depth comments about Janelle’s character and qualifications. I met Janelle as a client of O’hana Hyperbarics long before she became a candidate for city council position 2. She is authentic and so very approachable. I have never been politically active in an Edmonds campaign in the past despite living here for almost 30 years. But my concerns about recent council and mayor decisions and the future of Edmonds forced me to get off my butt and take action. When Janelle approached me about helping I decided to help in my politically naive way. She has my full support and I hope the Citizen’s of Edmonds will do their own research or talk with Janelle and then cast your vote for her on the primary ballot.

    1. Thank you Martin, for this link, it is amazing that Alicia and Luke’s support comes from the same groups that have supported our very “progressive” Mayor and the “gang of four” , all progressives that have put Edmonds in a mess.
      I urge voters to look at more centrist/moderate candidates in our upcoming elections. Janelle Cass, Kristiana Johnson, Neil Tibbot, are candidates who truly have no party affiliation, Union, or political groups as are listed on this progressive website that supports Alicia and Luke, we have too many progressive council members now!

  5. The website points out the Extreme Partisanship of Luke running in a Non Partisan race. Glad we have one candidate that is actually Non Partisan, in Janelle Cass

  6. This council needs to start working together and making unbiased, data-based decisions. As an engineer, Ms. Cass has the skills to research and analyze data. In the debate, she demonstrated her ability to discuss contentious issues in a civilized manner, question information that didn’t make sense, and focus on the facts. I don’t know if any of the other candidates are veterans. I do know that military people don’t have the luxury of surrounding themselves with people who think just like they do. They are required to figure out how to work with whoever is there. We need people who can do that on the Council.

    I am embarrassed to admit that I voted for the Mayor and some of the Gang of Four. I won’t make that mistake again.

    1. I looked at Cass’ business the other day. She has it running like a top. I’m jealous. I gotta do most things myself, whereas she has a staff of empowered people who are all trained up and serious. She built that.

  7. Helen Hall, thank you for asking this question about Janelle – “how does she work with others?”

    Janelle absolutely works collaboratively with others. Her Air Force Academy training focused on how to develop organizational success by working as a team. She has successfully brought diverse stake holders together such as airlines, airports, and residents for positive outcomes on large air space design projects. In her business she works with a wide variety of doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists for great client outcomes.

    From a personal standpoint, I’ll name just one example. Janelle worked with local business owners and Edmonds residents, community, to try to reach a compromise with City Hall with the Walkable Edmonds issue. She proposed keeping one day of the weekend open for our local retailers. Our retailers have suffered under Covid restrictions while our restaurants have enjoyed the support of our mayor, council, and initially the community to allow them to erect the plastic outside enclosures during these trying times. Our retailers also needed this critical support but did not receive it. So although the mayor and four on council prevailed on shutting down downtown Edmonds to traffic again, to the detriment of retailers, it is an example of Janelle working with many stakeholders to bring about a solution everyone can, or could have, lived with.

    I hope this adequately has answered your question Helen.

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