Letter to the editor: Will Chen will serve our diverse community with integrity

Dear Editor,

Will Chen has held many volunteer leadership positions in the greater Puget Sound area that serve a large and diverse population, including from the international community. With his deep financial expertise (CPA, MBA) and his bilingual skills (English and Mandarin), he has worked tirelessly to help translate for a large population of Chinese immigrants and help them and others perform their civic duties such as paying their taxes and as well as establishing their own businesses. He is inspiring others to achieve the American dream, just as he has done. He is focused on inclusion rather than division.

Lacking any substantive reason to criticize Will, there are some who bring up the amount of money he has raised, citing funds that have come from those who don’t live in Edmonds as undue influence. Rather than bringing our community together, such suggestions play into divisive politics.

The real issue is who will best serve our community. Will Chen has a long and distinguished history of selfless service, which should be celebrated. He is well-educated, has broad financial experience, and has a powerful work ethic and rock-solid integrity.

Will Chen is dedicated to giving back to America, the land of his dreams, and to Edmonds, the home of his dreams.

Both Peggy and I will be casting our vote for WILL CHEN now that our ballots have arrived. We encourage you to do the same.


Ralph Sanders

  1. Well said, Ralph. Mr. Chen loves Edmonds and will always do the right thing for us. His integrity is unparalleled and he brings far deeper fiscal expertise than any other candidate and will help ensure our taxpayer dollars are used efficiently. He has my vote!

  2. I was at the debates last week, and became skeptical when Will Chen avoided really answering the question on who his largest donors are, he sort of mentioned ex-colleagues and family. Why not the people in the city where he’s running for city council?

    I was impressed with his life story, but as an immigrant from a much worse place than here myself, I’m skeptical of funds coming from other places, from non-residents , what the implications might be, and why such info was glossed over.

  3. Questioning the fact that almost 80% of Will’s campaign contributions come from outside of Edmonds is not divisive in any way. It’s just reporting the facts which are very clear. It’s brought up because a majority of Edmonds citizens are concerned that outside money equals outside influence, especially in a non-partisan race. An extraordinary amount of outside money raised by Will in a non-partisan, local city council race raises red flags. Especially when it’s almost 8 times more that any other candidate and his spend rate is more than double than any other candidate. It’s almost like Will is running for a State or Federal partisan office, not the city council of Edmonds.

    This does not take away from the fact that Will’s story is an incredible one and one that should be celebrated. I know for a fact that Will is a good person who is hard working but that does not mean that he is above being questioned for his fund-raising efforts and his spend rate on a local city council campaign. This is a legitimate concern that needs to be brought to the attention of the voters.

    Additionally, if Will is truly inclusionary as you say, then why did he only seek the endorsement of the Democratic Party in a non-partisan race? Cass and Petso did not seek an endorsement from any political party which I find refreshing, especially since this is a local, non-partisan race and council members are more city managers than they are politicians.

    I have submitted an LTE to MEN regarding this exact subject and it will be published in Tuesday’s publication. In the end, the voters will decide one way or the other and that is what democracy is truly about.

  4. While I think the question of where campaign contributions comes from should be asked and the answer analyzed, in Mr. Chen’s case it is easily explained and in a way that is favorable for him as a candidate.

    For starters, Will Chen has a very large amount of contributions. You can delete ALL non-Edmonds contributions, and he is still a player on the fundraising leaderboard.

    Will has been active in Chinese-American philanthropic organizations throughout the Puget Sound Area and has worked with many King and Snohomish County minority-owned businesses over the years through his accounting practice. It should be to his credit—not his detriment— that he worked hard on boards, worked hard for his clients, and made such a favorable impression on all!

    Although it has not been a topic of conversation, others have support outside of Edmonds as well. In fact one MEN commenter who has made an issue of this in Will’s campaign is a Mukilteo resident who donated $500 to another candidate in the race!

    1. You can delete all non-Edmonds contributions and suddenly Will’s fundraising doesn’t come anywhere close to covering his campaign expenses. That can’t be said of the other candidates.

    2. Vivian: I am the person whom you refer to on this. I have donated to two candidates campaigns for city council and the city address on the PDC site next to my name is incorrect. I live in Edmonds. I used to live in Mukilteo but have resided in Edmonds since 2019. I have contacted the campaigns so they can correct this error.

      Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    3. So organizations out if state contribute to Will Chen? How does he know them, what campaign promises were made to them, and why do they care about Edmonds? There might be a great reason. I have great friends across America and they’d tell me to get bent if I wanted money from them to get a city council job in Edmonds.

  5. MEN doesn’t like out of town commenters. We all sort of seem to agree on that at least, right? Are the reasons different?

    1. Correction — we accept out of town commenters. We just require people identify where they live so we can verify.

  6. Janelle Cass’s surge of donations is coming from Edmonds residents as she is the candidate with the highest number of donations from Edmonds – not outside of the area. This is a nonpartisan race and yet Will Chen, Alicia Crank, and Luke Distlehorst solicited and accepted money, and/or endorsements from the Democratic Party. Lora Petso and Janelle Cass have kept this race nonpartisan as it should be. Outside money equals outside influence and Will Chen has received close to 80% of his donations from outside of Edmonds. He is running to represent Edmonds on the city council. Therefore, shouldn’t the residents of Edmonds be the ones in the majority to be donating to his campaign – not Seattle, San Francisco, Utah, Bellevue, the list is lengthy.

    A lot is at stake in this election. Our health and public safety, choosing our new chief of police may still be in play, and the apparent push by city government to rezone our single family properties to accommodate multiple housing units.

    Please go to the PDC website and see for yourselves. It is overwhelming and troubling to see the amount of outside donations Will Chen has solicited and received. Let the residents of Edmonds decide who they want to represent them on the council.

  7. I don’t feel like I should have to defend Will’s previous explanation, but I want to make clear that the debate forum was not an appropriate place to go into the details about the source of every one of his campaign donations. I can assure you that none of his contributions came from PACs or ‘big-time’ developers. Most are from current and former coworkers, clients, fellow parishioners, and extended family members. Several own and operate ‘mom and pop’ restaurants and other small businesses, some of which are located in Edmonds. Many of his supporters in Edmonds are on fixed incomes and do not have the luxury of donating hundreds of dollars to a political campaign when they barely have enough money for food. Just because they aren’t fortunate enough to have an address in the Bowl does not mean they should be excluded from having a voice in Edmonds city politics even though they live and/or work here. On a related note, if you are wondering about what a “Benevolent Association” is (one of those “out-of-state contributors”), I suggest you educate yourself about the historical exclusion of Chinese-Americans from owning property and accessing services that most of us take for granted nowadays such as police, banking, and sanitation. We are proud to say that we are active members of 2 of those Family/Benevolent Associations that still provide support to low-income, elderly, and limited-English proficiency residents.
    If you are still questioning the “outside” sources of his contributions, I will proudly go through each of them one by one and justify their relationship to my family. Please leave your contact information on the website https://www.friendsofwill.org/contact/ and I will personally call you. I would also challenge you to do the same with the other candidates in the interest of fairness, integrity, and transparency.

    1. Thank you for the explanation Mrs. Chen. Will has done an amazing service for this community, and that certainly is the primary reason why he is a front runner in this campaign.

      I understand the hesitance from people worried about outside donations, but for me I think this issue has been sufficiently addressed by both you and Mr. Chen.

      We are lucky in this race for Edmonds City Council position 2 to have three great candidates (Chen, Petso, and Cass). There is a lot of agreement among the issues with these three candidates, but the key is how they will get things done. At the debate, Chen was one of the only ones who talked about bridging the partisan divide to get things done, and I think that Chen has the potential to be the most beneficially productive as a councilmember.

      No matter who wins, I thank you and Mr. Chen for your dedication to our community,

  8. Will has lived and worked around the world prior to moving to Edmonds 13 years ago, and it is those friends that he has helped out over the years that are now repaying his generosity and kindness with contributions to his campaign. They support him because not only does he show up, but he also contributes his time, resources, and sometimes even his blood, sweat, and tears. If you doubt he would do the same for Edmonds, which of the other candidates donated thousands of PPE to the Edmonds Police Department and Edmonds Swedish Hospital during the height of the pandemic; contributed to and secured thousands more in funding to save the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce from going bankrupt; and funded survival kits for the homeless in Edmonds during the unprecedented heat wave in June? Will Chen did all of these things and more for Edmonds in just the past 18 months alone.
    Again, if you are still questioning the “outside” sources of his contributions, I stand by my earlier statement of going through each one of them and justifying their relationship to my family. Please leave your contact information on the website https://www.friendsofwill.org/contact/ and I will call you. If you actually care about fairness, integrity, and transparency, I would also challenge you to do the same with the other candidates.

  9. When I went to the debate for City Council, I had not yet chosen a candidate. Janelle Cass and Lora Petso were strong leaders in the debate. They know the subject matter and were able to speak to the problems raised by the citizens. Will is, no doubt, a good person and I applaud his background and success, but the other 2 candidates lead the pack on clear, concise answers to the questions.
    I prefer to have a non-partisan candidate for a non-partisan position. Infiltration of party influence is not helpful in these divisive times.

    1. Helen, I agree with your comment. Will has the Official Democrat Party endorsing him, that makes him a “no go” for me. It would be the same if he was endorsed by the Republican Party. It seems his campaign/supporters are absolutely blind to this misstep. This Council Seat is supposed to be NON-PARTISAN! The outside Edmonds contributions only add fuel to the fire. I do not support someone just because they are Hispanic and have come to this country and made a successful life. There are many other things to judge a candidate: who supports him is one very important factor, especially if most monetary support comes from outside Edmonds! To use the excuse that they support him because of past oppression of his race is not going to cut it.

      1. Hi Grace Gonzales,
        Please contact me directly if you would like to discuss more about this. I just want to point out a misunderstanding. I did seek endorsement from local Democratic organizations, however, I am NOT endorsed by the Democratic party because I am true to my own political identity, a Moderate Democrat, and my passion for serving the Edmonds communities. I have made myself very clear to everybody I come to interact with that I will make decision based on the interests of Edmonds residents and businesses, NOT based on any political agenda.
        If you would take a few minutes to check out my endorsement page of my campaign website: https://www.friendsofwill.org/endorsements/ You can clearly see that I have been proudly endorsed by elected officials, community leaders, business owners, and residents from both sides of the aisle. Here are some of the respected leaders and organizations who have endorsed my candidacy:
        Elected Officials
        • Brian Baird, Former United States Congressman and Edmonds Resident
        • Jesse Salomon, 32nd LD State Senator
        • Cindy Ryu, 32nd LD State House Representative
        • Jared Mead, Snohomish County Councilmember
        • Gary Haakenson, Former Edmonds Mayor
        • Dave Earling, Former Edmonds Mayor
        • Dave Teitzel, Former City Councilmember
        • Kristiana Johnson, Current Councilmember
        • Diane Buckshnis, Current Councilmember
        • Vivian Olson, Current Councilmember
        • Liz Vogeli, Everett City Councilmember
        • Riaz Khan, Mukilteo City Councilmember
        • Snohomish and Island County Labor Council (SICLC)
        • IAM District 751

      2. Grace. I believe you are mistaken re Democratic Party endorsements. Will Chen is NOT the endorsed candidate of the local Democratic Party. I checked Party documents for both the 21st and 32nd District organizations, and both Democratic organizations are endorsing Luke Distelhorst for this position.

  10. With all these people Will is helping, his talents would be squandered on the City Council. I saying this honestly; it doesn’t make sense. The City Council isn’t a pinnacle or a summit to get to the top of. Imagine if Will wanted to be elected dog catcher. He’d be over qualified. Imagine if Lee Iacocca lived here and wanted to be on the Edmonds City Council. I’m saying this with total respect. I [sorta] love Will too. I don’t know anyone who gives a crap if he’s Chinese-American or not (I’m pretty sure I’m speaking for the vast majority of Edmonds). Can he give the outside money back to shut everyone up? Imagine the PR from that. That said, this might be Will’s race to lose. Let’s see how he does.

  11. Someone has been stealing a candidates signs. HMMM, wonder why? Is someone seen as a competitor?

    I would financially support a family member taking the risk to run for City Council in Edmonds. As for being overqualified, maybe that’s just whats needed for the City Council to work together in a new way.

    Let’s encourage those qualified to run for office and following the outlined “rules” rather than putting in obstacles mid campaign. I’m voting for the person who can get the most done for Edmonds, and not for the person who talks the loudest.

  12. Why are political parties endorsing anyone in a supposedly non-partisan election? I once thought that was an irrelevant issue, but man was I wrong. My first clue (that this is bad thing) should have been the fact that the Republican Party has been doing this under the radar for years. This was a Karl Rove tactic introduced years ago to make Neo-Con ideology the prominent viewpoint on as many city councils, county councils, school boards and legislative districts as possible throughout the nation. It worked well for them and it is now working well for the ultra liberal factions in WA. state. The Dem.s have stolen the Republican playbook.

    When I quit being a knee jerk ultra liberal, I came to realize that almost all our problems local and national are the result of nutty policy approaches at both extremes of the political spectrum. We have lost the center and we will soon pay dearly, if we don’t get it back. We just missed having our national elections negated and the imposition of a dictator in a coup de ta. Locally we got an ultra liberal Mayor and City Council control Block in the last election; that really threatens the very nature of Edmonds, being a truly livable city for all who have the means to live and run business’ here. “Defund the police” is just about the dumbest political phrase, I’ve ever heard. Right up there with “only I can fix it.”

    1. I think you’re on to something, Clint. For years Republicans used local offices as their “bench,” and now Democrats are doing the same. Bernie Sanders instructed his young acolytes to just “run for something,” and they are doing that. They have an organization called Run For Something.

      And that might not be so bad if they remembered that, when elected, they actually have a job to do for the voters, the people who elect them. Voters have a right to expect local government to function rationally and effectively. Competence matters. In Edmonds, it’s been 19 months since Chief Campaan announced his retirement, and we are *still* without a new confirmed Chief of Police. Unbelievable. Sad actually, but that’s today’s City Hall at work.

  13. Roger, I’m just a simple country boy, originally from Nebraska (a Dem. in Nebraska is pretty much a Rep. anywhere else on earth), but I think Nelson and his way too liberal pals (for this city anyway) on the council have blown it big time. They all said the right things to get elected, especially Nelson and his neighborhood town halls promise, but they have been totally partisan in their decision making. They read the tea leaves well to get elected but after that it was all national and state Dem. Party politics pretty much all the time. Edmonds, especially the downtown area, is not a town full of Democrats.

    Police chief was a simple call that would have made Nelson a town hero with most folks,but no, he played the ultra liberal card instead, possibly at AFM.s urging. Same thing with weekend street closures. The obvious right call after the push back would have been the compromise which would have made him look and actually be open minded and concerned about the needs of all the business’. But, nope, we just had to close it down such that the food and drink lobby got both Fri. night and Sat. night as well as both days. Anything to do with his former job of heading up the service workers Union? Can’t blame reasonable folks for thinking that, anyway. I have nothing against any Union, but Mayors don’t belong in the business of favoring their members or not. Mayor should be a neutral position in this case. He has not been. Similarly, Paine, L. Johnson, AFM, and L.D. have not been neutral and that is just plain sad for our entire town.

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