Letter to the editor: The polarization of local politics

Editor:

This morning, I received an email from Adrienne Fraley-Monilas and her biggest concern about the upcoming council race. Here is a snippet, ” What’s at stake in the upcoming city council race? Funding for social and community programs, the Democratic majority on our city council, and solutions to our homelessness crisis.”

This is both offensive and elitist to me and should be offensive to every citizen in Edmonds. We have seen our local politics and political climate become flooded by partisan bickering and fear mongering. We have seen a decrease in civility on the Council, a decrease in transparency at the executive level, and an administration that is following a national playbook written by national interests. We have seen some candidates accept money from special interest groups and then tout that as a good thing. What we are not seeing is what local politics should be — non-partisan solutions to common problems.

The last time I checked, homelessness was not a Republican or Democrat issue. Churches, veterans organizations, social organizations and other non-profit organizations, as well as our own homes, donate time and hours to try to solve this complex issue. Social programs are not a local Democrat or Republican issue. We want services that serve all of our community regardless of the label that Adrienne Fraley-Monilas and the mayor have decided to put on them. We want equitable and diverse solutions for our city that enhance investment, preserve Edmonds, increase understanding and opportunities to build generational wealth across all citizens. We all want Edmonds to be a place where individuals and families can both work and live here. The last time I checked, our moral and ethical obligations as humans were not labeled as Democrat or Republican.

I would like to point to some interesting facts uncovered in a study by Richard Florida, and highlighted in the quote below from the ICMA (National City Managers Association):

“Recently, local governing bodies have been requested to enter the political fray about issues such as the Second Amendment and gun control, school choice, immigration and refugee policy, COVID-19 business closures and mask mandates, and other topics that do not directly pertain to city/county services. These types of issues are incompatible with the regular duties of local government for at least five reasons.

  1. Local governments rely on relationships, collaboration, and compromise to solve problems and provide services. Injecting the partisan divide into local decisions may very well degrade the crucial relationships and trust required to solve local issues. In local government, our relationships are much more important than party and ideology.
  2. Local issues are almost exclusively nonpartisan. Residents’ attitudes about local issues are not shaped by partisan politics or party loyalty.
  3. Local government officials typically use their roles to build community trust and healthy relationships rather than contribute to disagreement and bickering.
  4. Often, the public is unaware of the limitations of the authority of city and county governments. Proposed resolutions may not have the impact desired or anticipated by its supporters.
  5. When governing bodies, individual elected officials, or local government managers meander from their proper roles, things will get messy fast.

What we do in local government is not partisan or overtly political. Local governments do not decide everything with a vote but, rather, operate much more with consensus on community issues. This makes sense because, as Richard Florida found, there is very little difference between the attitudes of Democrats and Republicans on local issues.

The playbook that we are being given by our mayor, Adrienne Fraley-Monilas and three other current council members is not representative (as widely studied, proven in results and obvious in our local politics) of effective city government. It is a cheap way to cover for the inability to effectively manage and support local policies, funding, and programs that increase Edmonds ability to fund programs that are beneficial to all. Let’s get back to effective city government this election season. Sewers, streets, sidewalks and services are not threatened by our party affiliation, they are threatened by the current inability to govern.

George Bennett
Edmonds

Publisher’s note: All letters to the editors are the opinion of the author and do not represent the viewpoints of My Edmonds News. To submit yours, email myedmondsnews@gmail.com. No letters regarding political candidates will be accepted after the Nov. 2 general election ballots are mailed Oct. 14.

 

25 Replies to “Letter to the editor: The polarization of local politics”

  1. Thank you George Bennett! I also believe that local government should take care of local issues.
    Local issues are not Democratic or Republican issues.
    you were elected to the city Council of Edmonds to improve Edmonds.
    Not further your left or right agendas.
    I want to live in a town where I don’t trip on the sidewalks, I don’t damage my car from potholes, the water runs, the electricity stays on and I feel safe walking the streets day or night.
    And live in a town where city council members don’t spout lies to the media to further their agendas nor come to city Council meetings obviously under the influence of anything other than their desire to help the citizens of Edmonds!

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    1. Excellent letter Mr. Bennett. I think you made a great point about the [somewhat hidden for many years] agenda of some of the elected members of Edmonds government.
      I hope everyone in Edmonds reads your letter and votes accordingly.
      BTW doesn’t cutting off comments and letters a month before the election seem just a little draconian? A week seems more reasonable.

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  2. George Bennett, your letter is the most intelligent and thoughtful opinion I’ve read on these pages in a very long time! Thanks for writing this and for invoking Prof. Florida, one of the important voices in modern urban affairs.

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  3. I would like to see George Bennett run for mayor next time around. People have replaced religion and civic duty with with political power, political bias, and political alliances. Sadly this is the direction that most people have gone in life. Our little city is a great example of this represented in our city council.

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  4. Well said George!
    Can we just fix the sidewalks downtown? i am tired of tripping as i walk, and tired of the orange spray paint marking the areas i am going to trip on! seems simple and not a democratic or republican issue.

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  5. Mr. Bennett, thank you for articulating this so clearly and thoroughly!!!

    I was especially put off by Fraley-Monilas’ blatant injection of extreme party orthodoxy into local affairs, not least because she does NOT represent anyone I know, but only the same extreme wing who have done so much damage to Seattle.

    Let’s have a clean, safe Edmonds with good streets and usable sidewalks; THAT is the job of the council. I can’t wait to vote out the extremists who so forget their job: running a good city that functions well for the people who live here!

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  6. Unfortunately the Mayor and Wall of four have forgotten that their role is suppose to be nom partisan representing all Citizens. If someone is being backed by a political party please don’t vote for that candidate unless you want more of the same on Council! Bring back civility vote out Adrienne!

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  7. Well said. George. Civility and non-partisanship need to return to Edmonds. And we need a City Council that listens and responds to all of our citizens across our whole city.

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  8. Wow, this is the best letter I’ve read (so far) about the importance of this election to our town, lifestyle and community relationships. Edmonds politics must be non-partisan and we MUST vote out those who see it otherwise. This election is a fight for the soul of our city. Will we go the way of Seattle and the national morass? Or will we be the grownups in the room and, as the article says, be collaborative, relational, and dare I say, rational? Vote out the current council and bring in non-partisan, Edmonds-focused, evidence-based (as opposed to idealogical/emotion-based) people. Cass, Johnson and Tibbett will get my vote in November.

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  9. Thank you for the terrific LTE. Hopefully our current, as well as our prospective Council members will read it and take it to heart

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  10. Amen George, your comments are spot on. I worked in local government for numerous mayors, city council members and county executives as a policy advisor for three decades. In every case, the elected officials who kept partisan politics at arms length and focused instead on collaborative, practical solutions for the needs of their community, always were the most effective and most appreciated by their constituents.

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  11. When we vote for a governing body here in Edmonds, it should be non-partisan with the welfare of the whole community at stake. While one may not agree with all of the policies of the candidate they vote for, we should EXPECT that they consider all stances, have confidence that they will/can substantiate their considerations & then vote with integrity. We, the ordinary citizen, “control our own destinies”. See you at the ballot box.

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  12. If our 12 year incumbent Council member Adrienne Fraley-Monilas has solutions to the homeless problem I would urge her to tell the voters now what they are so we can evaluate her position before we vote. In ten years Seattle has not found a solution. I suspect this is just more virtue signaling by Adrienne but, please prove me wrong. Tell us your solutions and what they will be their cost to taxpayers.

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  13. Note to AFM……. Your “Democratic majority”at a national level is enabling thousands of illegal entrants crossing the border unfettered every day … some criminal, some terrorists and all putting more stress on the housing and homeless problem. Your “Democratic majority” at a national level is letting record amounts illegal drugs, heroin and fentanyl into the country everyday at volumes enough to kill millions of people every day creating more stress and increasing those drug dependent, mentally ill and homeless . We do not need your partisan politics trying to virtue signal like you can really solve problems created at a national level on purpose or by incompetence.
    We need non partisan competent city council members that want to address local issues and not attempt to virtue signal on issues that cannot be solved locally but only play to their political handlers. I know my slate of candidates that I am supporting but I really do not know their party affiliation because they have not made it a focus of their campaign nor asked for or accepted endorsements or contributions from political parties or political hacks I also suspect some of those I support don’t necessary support my political thinking but that’s ok because good honest people can disagree and debate usually leads to good solutions ( as opposed to cancel culture, virtue signaling and wokeness)
    So AFM… if you are serious about homelessness and drug induced homeless problems why don’t you contact our two Senators and our Progressive House member and ask them to pull their heads out of the sand and to do something about the disaster at the border that is compounding these problems you claim you care about. Post a copy of your correspondence so we know you are serious about really solving these problems and not just a partisan that gets her weekly talking points from your national handlers. I will not hold my breath.

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    1. “We do not need your partisan politics”

      While I share your frustration with AFM and the council, may I suggest that your first paragraph strays into the area of partisan politics? Much might be said in response, but that, too, would be partisan politics. Let’s stay with the council and what’s best for Edmonds, and leave our broad brushes on the shelf. To switch analogies, both parties live in glass houses.

      Now let’s solve EDMONDS’ problems.

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      1. This is a good reminder for all commenters to stay on topic of our community. I’m going to start being more strict going forward in not approving off-topic comments.

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        1. And my apologies to Mr. Giles, who wrote separately that if I didn’t like his comment, I shouldn’t have approved it. Noted and the reminder appreciated.

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