City provides more details on mayor’s pick for development services director

Susan McLaughlin

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson provided more details Monday on the candidate he has nominated to serve as the city’s next development services director.

According to the city’s announcement, Susan McLaughlin, who serves as the urban design manager for the City of Seattle’s Department of Transportation, was selected “after a comprehensive recruitment and interview process,” including candidate interviews with the Edmonds City Council.

The council is scheduled to vote on McLaughlin’s appointment during its Oct. 12 business meeting, which follows a series of council committee meetings. The business meeting is set to start at 7:30 p.m. (moved back its previously scheduled start time of 9:30 p.m.)

McLaughlin holds a masters in urban development and design from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, and a bachelor of arts in environmental studies with an urban planning emphasis from UC, Santa Barbara.

She has more than 20 years of experience in land use, transportation and public realm design, and played a key role in developing the Central City Rebuild Plan in Christchurch, New Zealand after the devastating 2010/2011 earthquakes, the city said. Prior to working in New Zealand, McLaughlin spent more than 10 years working in the public and private sector of land use planning in Santa Barbara, California.

An Edmonds resident, McLaughlin has worked for Seattle’s Department of Transportation for the last nine years. In her Seattle job, she lead a team of urban designers “to achieve high quality street designs that exemplify innovation, and help to meet equity and climate goals,” the city announcement said. Her team is also responsible for managing the Seattle Transportation Department’s Complete Streets program, fostering public-private partnerships, leading concept design for street design projects and providing design oversight on select capital projects.

If confirmed by the council, McLaughlin will replace former Development Services Director Shane Hope, who retired at the end of June.

According to the city announcement, McLaughlin’s application was one of 18 initially received for the position. Of those applicants, five met the minimum qualifications for the position. Those five were asked to submit a written response to a supplemental question, and four candidates completed this step of the process. After review of the written responses, three candidates were advanced for interview.

Candidates were interviewed Aug. 5 by a panel consisting of the city’s human resources, parks and recreation and public works directors, along with former Development Services Director Hope. The three candidates were then interviewed by Mayor Nelson, who advanced all three for council interview. Prior to scheduling council interviews, one candidate withdrew their application. The two remaining candidates were interviewed by the council Sept. 20 and the council approved moving forward with two candidates. The mayor solicited feedback from city council prior to making a final appointment decision.

According to the proposed employment agreement, McLaughlin will earn $167,524 annually.


11 Replies to “City provides more details on mayor’s pick for development services director”

  1. The City has finally provided information about Mayor Mike Nelson’s choice to be the new Development Services Director, one (1) day before Council is being asked to confirm Nelson’s appointment. Does that allow Councilmembers enough time to seek input from their constituents regarding whether to vote for or against confirmation? Making it worse, confirmation is being sought during a Special Meeting that does not provide citizens an opportunity to make audience comments.

    The last time we hired a Development Services Director, there was much opportunity for citizens to learn about the candidate in front of the confirmation vote. For example, a Council Discussion with Development Services Director candidate – Shane Hope, took place during the February 25, 2014 City Council Meeting. The 2014 City Council was asked to confirm Shane Hope on March 11, 2014 during a Council Meeting that provided for audience comments prior to the confirmation vote.

    Why is it being done so differently this time? If there is a reason for rushing this along, why not be open and transparent and tell citizens what is going on? When you leave citizens in the dark and do things much differently than in the past, citizen confidence in city government is impaired.

    Since taking office in January of 2020, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson has consistently acted to impair citizen confidence in city government. Despite his responsibility to encourage communications between the citizens and all municipal officers, Nelson has repeatedly chosen to not respond to all emails from citizens.

    Nelson doesn’t seem interested in improving his conduct encouraging communications between the citizens and all municipal officers. Instead, he is expanding on his poor conduct by keeping citizens in the dark about a critical hiring decision.

    I encourage Mayor Nelson to inform citizens why he didn’t issue Press Release until yesterday and why he is seeking confirmation one day later.

    The Press Release doesn’t contain a quote about high quality street designs or climate goals. Was the Press Release modified?

    Postponing this to a future meeting makes sense unless there is something citizens haven’t been made aware of.


    1. Hi Ken: The information about high quality street designs and climate goals was in a separate candidate bio that was sent to the media.


  2. So do we really want someone who has spent the last nine years in the Seattle bureaucracy having anything to do with the future of Edmonds. I’m sure she is a nice person but having spent the last decade in a city that has people leaving in droves to escape the mismanagement and resulting social chaos, is not a positive resume aspect. Also, streets that meet equity and climate goals is code for disrupting traffic and an attempt to eliminate private modes of motorized transport in favor of bicycles, scooters and busses. I also question what warrants the $167,524.00 salary in a city the size of Edmonds?


  3. The candidate currently works for the City of Seattle and the statement seen most often in MEN is “we don’t want Edmonds to become like Seattle.” What could possibly go wrong or raise citizen concerns about this Mayoral appointment? Any special reason for only last minute details about the applicant and virtually no public input allowed in the decision? Nelson’s biggest problem now is that he’s just like Trump – his actions have become totally predictable. This is really sad because the applicant has been given no real opportunity to sell herself to the public she will serve and have to deal with, while Nelson hides out from the public and ignores it’s concerns. She will be the one in the hot seat and it’s best she knows that going in.


  4. “Nelson’s biggest problem now is that he’s just like Trump”

    Notice how some people invoke the “Trump Bogyman” even when it has nothing to do with the topic?


    1. Guilty as charged, Cliff. But if that’s your only reaction to my comment, I’d say in the battle of wits, you are a bit short on ammunition.


  5. Donald, you can’t have $170,000/year administrators filling potholes for heavens sake. We have $150,000/year blue collar administrators to put that pesky pot hole problem off as long as possible. It would be criminal to fill potholes when the fish can’t get back up Deer Creek, the Marsh is shrinking and the Orca’s are starving. Where are your priorities man? One would think you want them to actually run a city, when there are so many more important things to worry about.


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