Election 2021: Written summary of Position 1 Edmonds City Council debate

To help voters learn more about general election candidates running for Edmonds City Council this fall, My Edmonds News hosted a series of virtual debates.

This report summarizes the second debate between incumbent City Councilmember Kristiana Johnson, who is seeking a third term, and opponent Alicia Crank. Full video of this debate is available on You Tube here.

The questions were compiled based on the suggestions of civic groups, including the Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds and the Edmonds Civic Roundtable, plus numerous individuals who sent in their own questions.

These debates are supported by the following Election 2021 event sponsors: Edmonds College, James Russell, PLLCcertified public accountants and business advisors, and Office Tech.

General election ballots are due Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Debate format

Each candidate makes a two-minute opening statement, after which moderator Teresa Wippel poses a series of questions to each.  Both candidates are given two minute to respond. After both answer, the candidates are allowed one minute to rebut.  After the questions, each candidate makes a one-minute closing statement.

Introductory statements

Alicia Crank

My name is Alicia Crank. I’ve been a business, non-profit and community leader for years, and it’s really been a passion for me. I’ve served on several boards and commissions including the Edmonds Planning Board as vice chair and the Snohomish County Airport (Paine Field) Commission, where I serve as chair. I also serve on the Snohomish County Tomorrow Steering Committee and the Hazel Miller Foundation. I bring expansive experience and understanding about how corporate, municipal and non-profit entities can partner together and the importance of fostering and maintaining those partnerships. My past service on the Safety Net Service Board and other non-profits has given me a deep appreciation for listening to the concerns and feedback of others and understanding how to put solutions into action. During this pandemic I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with many of you through virtual platforms for the Black in Edmonds series, videos to support businesses and the two-day Edmonds International Women’s Day. We got to know each other better and do things together during trying times. My goal is to build trust, It is difficult to do the work if you don’t trust the decision-makers. As your councilmember I will work diligently to ensure that we – those who live and work here in Edmonds – have their voices represented. From children, seniors, renters and homeowners, we can all work together to improve public safety, housing affordability, economic development and environmental sustainability. Thank you.

Kristiana Johnson

I believe it’s time to bring good government back to the city council. We need to improve communication with our citizens and business owners. Council needs to follow established rules, keep our agendas up to date, and operate meetings more efficiently. I will always do what’s best for Edmonds. I want to protect Edmonds’ single-family neighborhoods, historic downtown and environment. If you re-elect me, you’ll get someone with 15 years working for the City of Edmonds, including 10 years on city council. That translates into more than 500 council meetings, thousands of decisions, and 10 city budgets. You know where I stand on these issues, and you can look back on my voting record. I also have an excellent education and training with 30 years’ experience as a professional planner. I was a licensed professional planner in New Jersey and hold a certificate from the American Institute of Certified Planners. I also hold the Certificate of Municipal Excellence from the Association of Washington Cities. I want to continue to serve you and represent your concerns. I will listen to you and work on your behalf.  I ask for your vote.

Question: There has been a lack of civility and decorum displayed by elected officials at Edmonds City Council meetings. What will you do as a councilmember to restore decorum and collaboration on the council?

Johnson:
Yes, there has been a lack of decorum, and also a very strong divide. I’ve been on council 10 years and it’s only been in the past two that I’ve seen this behavior. I think it’s because we have one very progressive group that is in control of all the decisions, agendas and actions. They have strong support from the mayor. And those of us in the minority can’t even get an item on the agenda. This was never the case before, and that alone creates strife. We need a council president that is a servant to the council. We don’t even have established rules of procedure that we’ve been talking about for two years. What I suggest is a routine where items go first on the extended agenda so people know the topics that are coming up, then to committee (where citizens can attend) for discussion, next to council for a robust discussion, and then back to council again for a decision. Recently these things have been jammed together and we need to make it a slower pace for the benefit of councilmembers and citizens. Finally, we to be understanding and do a better job of communicating with others. We haven’t had a city council retreat on these issues.  We need work on this together.

Crank:
Yes, there has been a significant breakdown in communication, which is why transparency has become such a big issue over the past year and a half. Restoring decorum and civility starts with personal accountability. Everyone on council – including the mayor – have exercised non-civil discourse at times. So to say “it’s other people” is not resolving the issue. It has to start with each individual person taking responsibility for their actions and then putting it into action and being an example.

Rebut from Johnson:
Council has rules of conduct and a code of conduct, but these are not enforced. People can do outrageous things and there are no consequences. Ms. Crank, how would you remedy that?

Response from Crank:
Again, I think it starts with not participating in that behavior and exercising the example I want to see happen. And you call it (outrageous behavior) out in a way consistent with the code of conduct, and not resort to calling each other names or revealing information that was in an executive meeting that should not have been released. There’s a lot going on there, so rather than saying it’s up to other people, it comes down to the individual.

Follow-up: People have been polarized at both the local and national level into factions that reflect their beliefs. As a city councilmember, describe your specific approach to pulling your constituents together to listen to each other, try to reach consensus around tough issues, and move forward in an intelligent policy-making process.

Crank:
I’ll use the same example I used at the Black in Edmonds series. Even though it was a virtual forum where people could come together and listen and take things in, it also required an open mind. If you’re coming in saying you want to hear what everyone has to say but you are in an immovable stance, nothing will come of it. I want to continue those kinds of sessions even when we’re able to get back together in “in-person” sessions as there were people who were not able to come to in-person meetings before the pandemic. If we can exercise that kind of active listening and exchanging of ideas and not tearing someone down over a difference of opinion, that’s where you start. And then you start looking at the realism and practicality of what you’re trying to do. If rules and regulations don’t allow for certain things to happen, then you can’t do it.

Johnson:
City council is a non-partisan body, so while individuals may have political alliances we are not working in a partisan arena. We are representing the City of Edmonds and its citizens, and I think pulling together constituents as my opponent suggested isn’t practical on a weekly basis.  When we have big projects like how to restore the (Edmonds) Marsh or address homelessness, then it’s appropriate to gather together, but we work at a fast pace. So if we follow the procedures, the public will know what’s on the agenda and up for discussion and decision. This provides several opportunities to participate. We have a very involved citizenry in Edmonds.  We’ve learned from our Zoom meetings that there are very different ways we can meet and discuss. However, there’s nothing like having  in-person meetings, and I look forward to more of these once this pandemic is under control.

Rebut from Crank:
I just want to say that my idea was not to replace any other processes and procedures that are there, but to add to them.  We now know we can reach people in multiple ways. Even though we have had an active citizenry here, but it’s a select group. Not everyone can leave home to come to meetings, so having other avenues for people to participate is key. We’re seeing this now in the current campaign season with a more involved citizenry.

Rebut from Johnson:
Your example talked about the Black in Edmonds series – which was excellent – but brought together a small group of people. That’s representing 1.6% of our population. We have a large and diverse population, almost 43,000, and we need to find efficient and good ways to involve them. There are lots of ways we can do that. We decided a few years ago to hire a public information specialist to help us communicate. We have many long-range plans that will involve everyone.

Question: There is a belief that some councilmembers in Edmonds align themselves with political parties even though the city’s elected positions are non-partisan – and that councilmembers are listening to outside interests rather than their own constituents. Do you align your views with a political party and if so, what do you say to those who believe it hurts your ability to represent all residents in your decision-making?

Johnson:
In this election I align with no political parties, interest groups or PAs.  All my donations are from the citizens of Edmonds. I think it is detrimental to look beyond Edmonds at the national, state or district levels for what we want to accomplish. In this election I am a true independent. I have support from Democrats, Republicans and independents, but I am on my own in term of political affiliations. I think this is best for Edmonds. If we get into camps, how do we reach out to everyone?  ’m very proud that I’m not affiliated with any party and remain non-partisan. I believe this is the best way to represent the citizens of Edmonds.

Crank:
I identify as a Democrat. I’m not ashamed of that. But if we want to throw around the word “partisanship” we need to realize that it’s not so much about designation as it is about behavior.  Lately we’ve seen some pretty partisan behavior by some who call themselves non-partisan. In the past when Ms. Johnson has run for office, she sought and received the Democratic Party endorsement and support. Does this mean she’s been partisan up to this time? I don’t think so. I believe that one can be aligned with a political party and still be an independent thinker. I know that several people given me this a box and said, “You say you’re a Democrat, therefore you must think all these different things.” I’ve spoken publicly over the past two years against several proposals put forth by those on council and the mayor. But there’s been a decision to ignore this and continue to put me in this box. I am an independent thinker. I have spoken out on what I believe and don’t believe. So just because someone says they’re a Democrat or even a Republican does not necessary mean that they fall completely into one field and one train of thought. I am my own person and I make my own decisions. If you can provide any examples of where I’ve been so partisan, I would love to know what that is because I don’t think I have.

Rebut from Johnson
For the record, I am a Democrat. I have enjoyed the endorsement of the Legislative District 32 and 21 in the past. However, on our city council the extreme progressive wing of the Democrats has made me resist to pursue those endorsements in this election and I know you (Ms. Crank) have received endorsements from both of those legislative districts. Most of them do not double endorse, so that’s a practical matter. Regarding the independence, I have demonstrated that I am an independent thinker. We do not have a record of you (Ms. Crank) on the city council. Not to be critical, but I’m just saying that’s a concern.

Follow-up: Drawing from your experience serving on the council or – in Ms. Crank’s case, appointed boards and commissions — what is your approach to collecting input from constituents and incorporating it into your decision-making?  Can you provide an example of where your initial inclination on a decision was changed by constituent feedback?

Crank:
My example comes from my six years on the Planning Board. The question of rezoning a part of downtown for a property on Fifth Avenue came up recently. After comments from the public, who came in with drawings and other materials showing what this would look like, I put a pause on it.  I didn’t think it was a good idea. We went back to staff for more analysis. Bottom line is that we don’t know everything about everything, and having the folks who will be most directly affected come and show us what this would look like for them prompted a change. I’m using the same approach on the Airport Commission, where we’re looking for feedback to help us make the best decisions for the majority.

Johnson:
In my career as a planner, I often worked with the public organizing boards and commissions and putting together public information campaigns, ran meetings, prepared printed materials. In my job at city council, we get emails and comments at the podium and these form a major source of input and information and prompt a robust discussion of the issues. Recently when we went back to in-person meetings we had some technical difficulties, people were not wearing masks, the delta variant was raging, and I voted to go back to online virtual meetings. Then I heard from citizens, I changed my opinion, and I changed my vote.

Question: As a legislative body, the city council is supposed to provide a needed check and balance for the executive branch/mayor and his or her administration. How would you work with your fellow councilmembers to create a strong legislative vision and implement it?

Johnson:
There has been very little check and balance with the current administration. The way it’s supposed to work is that the city council is the legislative body that makes policies and gives direction to the administration, which is supposed to carry it out as an independent branch of government. But in the last year and half we have a former councilmember (the current mayor) who wants to make policy decisions like closing off Main Street, or closing Sunset. We can’t get these issues on the council agenda to even discuss them. Every year we put together legislative priorities for the state Legislature, and we usually have a retreat to gather our thoughts and generate a list of priorities. This has always been effective, but now we are dysfunctional. We don’t have clear direction, we don’t have unification, we’re at odds with the administration. This needs to change. This is why I decided to run for re-election. If we have a stronger council, we can be more effective and more efficient.

Crank:
I agree with most of what Councilmember Johnson just said. But we as councilmembers respond to the people. If the administration isn’t functioning the way it should, it should be taken to the people. We don’t fight with each other, drag it out and create factions, which unfortunately is what has happened. These factions just bring more dysfunction and more bullying.  We have better ways to use our time than feeding into this negative energy. I felt that frustration as a constituent. So I say, give people the power to say look, the mayor works for you. We will call him out.  ind a way to work together and make this work instead of fighting with each other.  Again, a divided house cannot stand.

Rebut from Johnson:
I’d like to add some additional comments. Communication is a very big issue here. When the mayor doesn’t inform council about his plans or actions, that breaks down communication.  If we hear about it in a press release it’s after the fact, and we’re not respected as we should be. When there have been problems, we cannot get any discussion on the agenda.  When Adrienne Fraley-Monillas became council president, she instituted a new rule that you need four councilmembers to agree before something can be put on the agenda. That had never been the case.

Question:  The Edmonds’ Citizens Housing Commission submitted 15 recommendations for City Council action. One of those would permit upzoning in all single-family zoned areas of Edmonds, allowing the construction of duplexes, triplexes, and quadraplexes citywide. Do you support this upzoning for areas now designated as “single-family residential”? Please state your reasoning.

Crank:
When I read those recommendations, I didn’t see that it said “all” when referring to upzoning from single family. It said for certain areas meeting certain requirements. That being said, allowing it in certain spaces with certain conditions is something I agree with. Nothing should be across the board. We should not get rid of all single-family zoning, we need to do it on a project basis. It needs to make sense. I’m thinking about homeowners’ rights. Maybe someone wants to add a detached ADU (accessory dwelling unit). When you prohibit something like this arbitrarily across the board, it becomes problematic. You need to think about whether it would work in that neighborhood, in that particular situation. We need to respect property owners’ rights.

Johnson:
This is a hot topic. There were 15 recommendations from the housing commission. They worked with city staff and consultants for a year. So far, the council has adopted one of these: entering into an interlocal agreement with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO) to do projects in the city of Edmonds if the opportunity arises. Other recommendations have been sent to the Planning Board and the Architectural Design Committee asking them to come up with standards for multi-family housing, because there are none now. We also wanted to eliminate illegal discriminatory practices in selling and buying houses. I really support our single-family neighborhoods and I don’t want to see that undermined. I do not support retrofitting duplexes, townhouses, etc. and inserting them into those neighborhoods. These are excellent for new development, but not existing.

Rebut from Crank:
Recommendations are just that. They can be shot down, retooled, or something else. And to Ms. Johnson’s point, people from different parts of the city came together to make these decisions, and this should not be discounted. Folks from different neighborhoods said it was a good idea.  Even if you personally don’t agree, there are people who do, and they should not be discounted.

Rebut from Johnson:
The City of Edmonds is on target with their growth objectives for single-family housing. We are going to meet our needs. We don’t want change just for the sake of change. These recommendations will be analyzed by the Planning Board, the council, whoever it needs to be – and we will have a robust discussion. Our city is diverse geographically and architecturally, and I don’t think we can have one size fits all. My budget proposal is to look at different areas in deciding this.

Question: Which housing commission recommendations do you support and why?

Johnson:
I support the three I just identified: the HASCO interlocal agreement, the design standards for multi-family, and getting rid of discriminatory practices. I don’t want to pre-suppose my positions on the other recommendations because more information is forthcoming. I do want to protect single family neighborhoods and have broader discussions. When (Development Services) Director Hope left there was a desire to get things wrapped up, but this is going to be a long process that may stretch over a year or more. I welcome the opportunity for everyone to participate in the process. This is our home, it’s where we live, we need it to represent Edmonds.

Crank:
I want to focus on detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs). Many communities across the country treat these in ways that fit the community. During this pandemic I’ve seen numerous folks who were against DADUs change their mind, because their situation had changed. Adult children were losing their jobs and wanted to move home, and parents began thinking how nice it would be to build a small unit on their property for this.  t would be good to have the opportunity for property owners to be able to consider this as an option instead of having something on the books that prohibits these entirely. There are illegal units out there and some that have been grandfathered in, and we need to see what we can do to accommodate this.

Johnson:
I’d like to talk about detached accessory dwelling units. We are allowing attached accessory dwelling units in Edmond under a conditional use permit. My grandmother lived in a detached ADU in Bremerton, and I think given proper regulations it would be feasible, but we’d have to look at parking, stormwater, trees, the environment. It’s just not something where you can say “yes, everyone can do it.”

Rebut from Crank:
I’m glad to see Ms. Johnson agrees with me – I didn’t say go ahead and do it. I said certain conditions have to be met. One restriction we might put on this is that the ADU has to be occupied by a family member, that it couldn’t be used as rental property. There’s nothing new under the sun.  It may be new to Edmonds, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t already exist, and there are examples out there of things we can do that might work.

Follow-up: Define affordable housing — using YOUR definition of affordable — and give an example of a successful project in a similar city where it has worked.

Crank:
I like to think of it as housing affordability, not affordable housing. It’s subjective. What I can afford, someone else can’t. For me it means creating an entry point for people of various income levels, whether they are a renter or an owner. I was hoping the Westgate Village project would be one that would be successful, but it’s not. I applied myself and it took till the last minute for them to say what my cost would be. A studio was going to cost $1,700. That’s not affordable for a lot of people – and those who can afford this don’t want to spend it on a studio. I would like to see a legislative solution similar to that in the State of California that provides access first to those already living in the community before others move in and displace folks who are already here.

Johnson:
Affordable housing is a term that doesn’t talk about what housing can represent.  It’s usually based on a percentage of median family income. But there is no such thing as affordable.  Westgate Village was not supposed to be “affordable” but rather below-market rent. So, the $1,700 studio may be comparable to a $2,400 studio at market rate. This project was in part made possible by the multi-family tax exemption from the state legislature that provides lower taxes for 12 years in exchange for offering below market housing. Other housing programs exist.  This is a complicated subject. I’m not an expert. I don’t think we can look to California to solve our problems because that would require legislative action. I think we should also encourage people to buy the smaller, older homes in Edmonds because those are the ones that developers jump on to build new larger homes.

Rebut from Crank:
I would love to not use California as an example, but I would love if Ms. Johnson had a local example to offset. Anyone who has tried buying any type of home in this environment will tell you there’s nothing that can even remotely be deemed affordable. Many are going for well above their asking price.  Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way to make that happen.

Rebut from Johnson:
These problems are on a national scale. We don’t control land or housing prices. There’s little we can do to make housing affordable to everyone, but there are programs. Edmonds has a lot of modest housing that’s affordable, but because the land is so valuable developers are buying these up, bulldozing them, and building very large homes. I don’t know how we can stop this but doing so would protect the charm of Edmonds and help preserve our historic homes.

Question: How will you ensure the critical needs of those who are homeless in Edmonds be met without enabling “Seattle-style” issues such as public camping, trash along streets and related public safety concerns?

Johnson:
In the past I have supported efforts by the city council to put together a fund to look at homelessness, but all that came out was a report by a consultant. We’re looking now at updating it since the information it was based on was from 2016. I also support a part-time human services manager to help people with their needs.  I’ve also approved a social worker who will be with the human service group. There are lots of reasons people become homeless: job loss, mental illness, substance issues. We have to deal with the people themselves and figure out what their issues are. Most folks don’t want to be homeless. And now with the pandemic we have folks without masks, living in unhygienic situations – I want to make sure they’re safe and healthy.

Crank:
I spent three years at YWCA Snohomish King County and my office was right in the same building where we housed 60-plus homeless women. I tell you, when you see that every day you realize that homelessness is not a one-shot situation. We need to have wrap-around, multi-level services to address these issues. I’d like to see the city enter into public-private partnerships. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We have staff to spearhead these issues and partner with others in the region who are in the trenches doing this work, such as providing hotel vouchers and more that address the camping issue and more. Right across from where I lived, I’ve seen a woman sleeping in her van with her kids because they had no place to live. It’s kids, it’s women, it’s families. It’s critical.

Rebut from Johnson:
I want to make an addition. This is a very complex subject. There’s a YWCA home donated by Rick Steves. The Edmonds Rotary, of which I’m a member, has provided maintenance for that building, and provides food and other resources for the kids.

Rebut from Crank:
I’m very familiar with Trinity Place, which Rick Steves donated. I’ve been there many times, as well as the other properties YWCA runs. Unfortunately, there’s more demand than supply. Much still needs to be done. Focused public private partnerships are needed.

Question: The BNSF railway recently confirmed that starting in 2023, it will be installing a second track next to the existing track that runs along the Edmonds waterfront. This raises a host of questions about the impacts — ferry, bus and Amtrak traffic, the ongoing safety issues related to Edmonds waterfront access during emergencies, and the environmental effects on the Edmonds Marsh. What should the city council be doing now to plan for this second track and what specific steps would you take to address these concerns?

Crank:
There’s been whispering about this for years. We need to continue conversations with BNSF. So far, they haven’t reciprocated, but we need to keep trying. There are environmental issues that will be similar to those we encountered with the (Edmonds Waterfront) Connector. And emergency access also must be talked about. But we can’t figure out permanent solutions until we get more clarity on the second track. Personally, I’d rather not see the second track happen, and maybe that’s an option. We need to make sure we do the right thing environmentally and for our pedestrians.

Johnson:
I can guarantee there will be a double track; we have no power to stop it, and very little to change it. It’s part of bills that were passed at the turn of the (20th) century that give railroads autonomy. We’ve been talking about double tracking for at least 15 years. The advantage is that you don’t have to stop a train in order to have another pass through. Freight and passenger movement can happen simultaneously. Maybe we can negotiate some things (with BNSF). The crossings are very important, the noise is an issue. The ferries also complicate this. We were unable to solve the waterfront access problem.

Question: The city council has put great emphasis on protecting “critical areas” in Edmonds. As a councilmember, what would you require in administering critical area studies and State Environmental Policy Act requirements governing Edmonds’ development? Further, how do you propose protecting the integrity of analyzing critical areas given pressure from outside parties — such as consultants for developers — working to influence city staff?

Johnson:
The critical areas ordinance protects areas of steep slope, earthquake instability, and areas with streams or other natural water. Edmonds has an environmental planner that administers these codes. But the council has the ability to come up with new codes and policies. We recently updated the tree ordinance and developed policies for the Comprehensive Plan. We also oversaw an environmental analysis of the Edmonds Marsh. Right now, I’m interested in looking at the stormwater code, particularly in area near natural streams. These streams could host salmon and we need to work to try to restore salmon to these streams.

Crank:
The council doesn’t have much pull over these areas. Thankfully we have a new code writer to clean up some of the codes, which has been needed for years. Flood areas are also an issue. I’m glad that the Waterfront Center was able to adjust to this while it was being built, but we still have other areas like Perrinville with consistent flooding issues. I’ve heard the complaints about staff being influenced. We hire staff to do a job and make recommendations. But it’s up to individuals on those bodies to make the decision. It’s up to us – appointed or elected – to decide what makes sense.

Rebut from Johnson:
To add to what I said earlier, there are times when we work directly with staff, meet with them, and talk about a variety of issues. I’ve worked with staff on environmental and tree issues. There are opportunities to work with staff, but it should be noted that the mayor as chief executive can dictate the extent to which he will allow his staff to work with us.

Question:  Describe your experience working collaboratively with other jurisdictions to address regional issues, and name one regional project you would like to see the City of Edmonds develop with other jurisdictions.

Crank:
From a municipal standpoint not so much. On the Airport Commission we work with both general aviation and jurisdictions like the county. But I’ve worked with many different groups over my career, especially in non-profit fundraising and other activities. These required working with entities including major sports teams. I do have the underlying experience to understand that municipalities have a role, nonprofits have a role, corporations have a role, and they can work together to make things happen.

Johnson:
When the Growth Management Act (GMA) was first approved by the Legislature I was hired by King County as their principal transportation manager for growth management. I had to understand all the laws and coordinate that with every jurisdiction in King County ranging from small areas like Medina and large areas like the City of Seattle. I worked with transportation planners from all of these to put together a framework that would coordinate with everyone. We met at least monthly. I also had to coordinate with Puget Sound Regional Council on multi-county initiatives, and I had to put together a team so we could establish standards for unincorporated King County to coordinate with Metro. It was great for me because I got to do what I love most – planning and coordination. I was also on Snohomish County Tomorrow and represented the City of Edmonds for several years. In the future I’d really like to work on stormwater, especially in Perrinville Creek where we have major problems.

Question:  During the past year, we have learned more about negative experiences of BIPOC residents living in Edmonds. What is the role of the city council in addressing racism and the effects of white supremacy in our city?

Crank:
You might be surprised by this, but I don’t think that the city as a whole has a huge responsibility to do that. We as residents and as people in this community, if we are being non-partisan and just really just focused on the needs of our residents, it should kind of be baked in and pretty natural.  Going back to what Ms. Johnson said earlier about the Black in Edmonds series, yes, the African American community in Edmonds is only 1.6% of the population. But to imply they were the only ones listening to the Black in Edmonds series would be wrong. These topics were not specific to Black people in Edmonds but to the whole community. If you’re not listening to the people you’re trying to help, your efforts will likely backfire and make it worse for the BIPOC community. If you are looking at these things from a human rights standpoint, a lot of these things can be addressed. I don’t think it has to be some kind of super hard-coded rule or initiative. If there isn’t buy-in from that body anyway, it will do more harm than good. As a member of the BIPOC community I can tell you that we don’t need any more issues in trying to get to a point of equity and equality.

Johnson:
During the past year we’ve seen lots of social unrest and people rising up. The issues are important in Edmonds, but maybe not as much as we see on the evening news. In 2019 the state Legislature passed a diversity, equity and inclusion piece of legislation that tells the city that we need to provide equal opportunity, affirmative action and find a way for all members of the community to participate fully. It’s changed the way we look at programs. For example, the Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) program is looking at inclusion as part of its program. Council can make a policy decision, but some I don’t agree with. The hate portal is an example. We never had the opportunity to discuss this on council.

Rebut by Crank:
The only thing I would add to that is that in as much as the city can legislate certain polices around affirmative action, it really comes down to the action itself. If our elected officials are not “walking the walk,” it rings hollow. Many members of the BIPOC community – including myself – have been subject to pointed behavior that has not been done to others in this community. No one on council has spoken up to say this is not right. I’m thinking of what happened to me with the portal, and another young woman who was subject to something unfair that came through the portal. And not one elected came forth to say this is wrong.

Rebut from Johnson:
The city council does not receive any information from the portal. It all goes to Mr. Doherty and not through us. I’m sorry you didn’t get a response, but we on council didn’t know about it. We can always do better. One thing we’re doing is trying to offer information in more than one language. Edmonds is a very friendly, welcoming city.

Question:  If elected, what will be your spending priorities in the next budget?

At this point I can’t say what my priorities will be. I do read every page of every budget and look for ways to cut costs. Recently I’m thinking about how we can do a better job in planning our city. We need to look at transportation, housing, land use. I’m thinking about the tree code and looking at ways to incentivize tree retention rather than penalize people for cutting them down.  Perhaps we could include special incentives for landmark trees. We need to do more for the marsh. We need to take the environmental study to the next step. Grants for recovery could be part of this.

Crank:
I’d like to see more emphasis put on back-to-basic things like sidewalks and potholes. I lived in a neighborhood for the majority of the seven years I’ve been here where I’d step out and there’s no sidewalk. I’d love to see some money put into this. We’re spending more time in our neighborhoods because of the pandemic. I’d also like to see some priority put into both park maintenance and trying to find ways to create more parks, especially on the southern end of the city. There’s some environmental justice that needs to be done.

Rebut by Johnson:
I agree with Ms. Crank that we need to fix sidewalks and we need to fix potholes. Also, we just authorized bonding to help fix our city buildings.

Question: Would you support the continuation of Walkable Main Street in 2022?

Crank:
Short answer: No. I think when it first came about, it met the need of the moment – staying safe while supporting local business. It made sense. This time around it was a severely missed opportunity to work with our businesses who advocated for a single day rather than both weekend days. This was not done, and the businesses felt like they weren’t being heard. So, if it was a good idea going forward, it’s been tainted. It also missed the opportunity to tie in with some of the activities that were happening at the Frances Anderson Center. Partnerships seemed to be missing and the synergy that could have provided businesses with the kind of foot traffic they need. It might have been necessary last year, but not this year.

Johnson:
Absolutely not. I wanted to discuss it last year and this year. I tried to get it on the agenda, but I couldn’t (due to the new council rules that four councilmembers need to approve additions to the agenda). Initially the idea was that folks would not be safe on the sidewalk due to inability to maintain 6-foot separation. But the next year it was attracting people with music, chalk, and tables. European examples of walkable streets are based on historic patterns of behavior where there are narrow streets, lots of small shops, and people are happy to be without cars. Trials of this in the United States however have mostly been failures. This second time we had 28 business owners who protested and wanted it on Sunday only. They were losing money. I think it’s wrong to favor one sector of our businesses – restaurants and bars — at the expense of another. I will not be in favor of Walkable Main Street in the future. The mayor has said it will be up to the city council.

Question:  Other cities provide direct financial support to their chambers of commerce for the work they do – ranging from contracts for marketing and business support to waiving permits for park use for chamber events. How will you work to support the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce?

Crank:
When I first moved here, I advocated for the city underwriting the rental costs for the chamber.  Other cities our size do this. In the previous administration that idea kept being shot down. I would love to see the city do this to take the financial pressure off the chamber. It’s overdue.

Johnson:
I’ve been a chamber member since 2011 as an individual. Through this membership I got to know our Edmonds business owners  I appreciate the work they do, the events they sponsor – chowder cookoff, Taste, 4th of July. During the pandemic the city did forgive the rent. We gave the chamber money for the CARES fund. We have many small businesses, and they make Edmonds charming.

Rebut by Crank:
Another function of the chamber is as a visitor center for the city. There’s no reason to not move forward with supporting the chamber.

Final question: Without engaging in partisan or personal attacks, tell voters why you will be a better city councilmember than your opponent?

Johnson:

I’m older, wiser, more experienced, spent my entire career in city, county, and state government.  I’ve studied extensively.  I hold a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s in city and regional planning, and an advanced certificate in transportation planning. I’ve worked as an environmental planner, land use planner and transportation planner. I’ve studied government and constitutional law. I think I have a depth of experience that is unmatched. But just as important – Edmonds is my hometown and I love it here. My parents built a home here in the 1950s, and though I left to go to school and pursue my career, I always return here. I’m impressed to see all the growth, development and change in the city of Edmonds. I want to use all my knowledge, experience, and training to serve Edmonds and make it the best it can be. This is a terrific place.  It’s where I want to provide service to my community.

Crank:
We are becoming a more diverse community, and many members of the community want to see a councilmember who looks like them. And it’s not just skin color. We are becoming a younger community, and people are choosing to live here for a reason. People want to see different ideas and different ways of thinking on our city council and want to see ideas that have steeped over time be challenged. We are changing as a society. Status quo doesn’t fly anymore. People want to see a shift, someone who is different. My background of coming from different places, as one who has worked with non-profits and built relationships with community members, I can offer that. We have a diverse constituency, and we need to embrace what that is.

Closing statements

Johnson:
It’s been an honor to serve the citizens of Edmonds for the past ten years. You know how I vote because I have a voting record. You can trust me. My voice is for the citizens of Edmonds.  I’m an independent thinker without preconceived ideas. I listen to the stakeholders and the people and consider their opinions. You can call me a moderate Democrat and a fiscal conservative.  I have excellent education and experience in aspects that will be important to our city. My concerns are single family neighborhoods, our historic downtown, and the environment.  I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 2. Thank you.

Crank:
Living through the pandemic has challenged us in many ways. We’ve developed a new appreciation for transparency and communication. We are more invested in our neighborhoods, schools, our local businesses, and each other. Many have seen my efforts to bring a range of voices to the table on topics that matter to us. You’ve seen me model civil discourse and active listening.  I’m committed to continuing this work with community members, fellow councilmembers, and others across the board to ensure the best decisions for our city. I’m a firm believer in choosing leaders who build up members of our community, not tear them down. I hope I will have your support and your vote. Together we can build our community to be the safe diverse and comfortable environment we know it can be. Thank you very much.

— By Larry Vogel

8 Replies to “Election 2021: Written summary of Position 1 Edmonds City Council debate”

  1. I’m totally irritated. I want to vote for both of these fine women as I think they both should be on OUR city council. I’m voting for Ms. Johnson because I think she deserves another term in appreciation of her independence of thought and past service, but neither one of these folks turn me off on their basic attitudes and thought processes which is quite refreshing just in itself. I wish them both best of luck and appreciate them both for taking on the task of running and doing the job, if elected.

    Ignored

  2. Thank you so much for these thoughtful questions to the candidates. I appreciated how clear and specific Council member Johnson was in her answers. Her voting record does indeed show us that she is an independent and rational servant leader. I have also seen her publicly admit to changing her mind on an issue after gaining more information, explain why, and remedy the situation in her voting. Her campaign contributions demonstrate that she is beholden to no one but the local citizens of Edmonds.
    My observations of Ms. Crank have not been as favorable. There are many board positions listed by her but this does not tell us her record on these boards, ability to work with others, or even attendance. There have been frustratingly few in-person city council meetings, but the ones I have attended were not attended by Ms. Crank, which seems odd for someone running for Council. She speaks in generalities in this debate and in the last. Diversity is a buzz word she uses quite a bit, which sounds to me like divisions, even when she speaks loftily of non-concrete terms like unity and transparency. Diversity is not what she espouses when she insinuates that because Ms. Johnson is not young like Ms. Crank she does not fit the incoming demographic. Yes, Ms. Crank is indeed a newcomer and based on her logic, her age being similar to the the new perceived younger majority one would think a balance of older wisdom and experience to be a big plus. On the other hand Ms. Johnson addresses community and citizen interests, truly collectively regardless of differences. That’s the kind of candidate I want. Specific answers to serve the community at large.
    Kristiana Johnson gets my vote.
    I will also vote for Janelle Cass and Neil Tibbott so together they can effect the change stymied by the Mayor and his little gang.

    Ignored

  3. Clinton, I’m with you. I like both. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several events with Ms. Crank and she has always been respectful and a pleasure. What swayed me to Ms. K. Johnson is her objective and non-partisan approach. Ms. Crank made it clear that she was the only progressive candidate not elected last time…and she stated several other reasons…that, I’m sure from her perspective were accurate, but didn’t align with my experience.

    I do pray that whoever is elected that they put Edmonds first – and not ideology. Let’s get back to filling potholes, improving business opportunities, restoring downtown, and preserving single family dwelling.

    Ignored

  4. I’m concerned on why the video was edited to take out zoom names in this video but not in the other candidate debate videos. Is it because Candidate Johnson was at another person’s house using their account and had those people assisting her during the debate? This practice makes me wonder why MEN would do this and what else is going on behind the scenes.

    Ignored

    1. We changed the background on the names in this video during editing because Ms. Crank’s background in her video was lighter and the font we used for other videos didn’t show up well. You couldn’t see her name clearly. In some of the debates, including this one, there were technical problems either on our end or on the participant’s end. In that case, we edited out the transitions when we had trouble either on their end or ours (power outages, for example) so there was no disruption for the viewer. In Ms. Johnson’s case, she did switch out her computer for another person’s computer after her laptop lost power during the debate. That required switching from that person’s Zoom user name to Ms. Johnson’s. We also had to do that in our video studio for the computers we were using during our own disruptions to ensure names correctly matched those on the screen.

      Ignored

      1. I think it’s important visual information that the computer/Zoom account Ms. Johnson switched over to is a board member of Edmonds Civic Roundtable, one of the groups who provided the questions for the debate. That should not have been omitted.

        Ignored

        1. Thanks Heather. Just to clarify that this time we actually didn’t use any questions from the Edmonds Civic Roundtable. They did submit some but we had so many good questions from residents that those dominated the questioning this time around.

          Ignored

  5. This is misleading then –

    “ The questions were compiled based on the suggestions of civic groups, including the Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds and the Edmonds Civic Roundtable, plus numerous individuals who sent in their own questions.”

    Regardless, it should have been left in. I’m glad the other candidate had the wherewithal to get screengrabs – otherwise this would have just been taken at face value when clearly there was important maneuvering happening behind the scenes. I know you can’t control where someone is during Zoom times, but you can report it out as observed.

    Ignored

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.