Reader view: When an elected official’s behavior rises to level of utter disrespect

Although Edmonds City Council positions are ostensibly non-partisan, there are candidates who are heavily involved in party politics. In this upcoming election for Edmonds’ City Council, Position 3, I urge those of you who had intended to vote for Adrienne Fraley-Monillas as that candidate from the party “I always support” to pause and consider how divisive and uncivil Councilmember Fraley Monillas has been over the past several years. What Edmonds needs now is someone who can unite people and who will bring civility and democratic process back to our City Council.  Based on her behavior towards Edmonds’ citizens and council colleagues, that is undeniably not Adrienne Fraley-Monillas.

There is a continuing role for Adrienne to play as a private citizen as an enthusiastic advocate for the 99 Corridor, Lake Ballinger and other neighborhoods coming in to their own in Edmonds.  However, if we want a return in Edmonds to government that is respectful of and responsive to its citizens and where Councilmembers are civil to each other, we must replace her on city council.

There is much to say about Councilmember Fraley-Monillas’ disrespectful and unprofessional behavior over the past several years. I will speak to a small portion of it here.

Lack of civility to council colleagues

Councilmember Fraley-Monillas has a pattern of behaving in an uncivil manner toward fellow councilmembers during council meetings and in the media.  From Edmonds City Council Approved Minutes, Dec. 17, 2019:  Councilmember Diane Buckshnis revealed that in a council agenda-setting meeting Councilmember Buckshnis attended with the mayor, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and two city staff members, Councilmember Fraley-Monillas swore at her several times “publicly in front of staff and citizens. It was inappropriate.” Buckshnis continued as to Councilmember Fraley-Monillas’ behavior, “Council President exploded, pointed her finger at her, stomped her foot and called her a name and said you go and get your [dirty word] votes,” behavior that was subsequently repeated. Buckshnis later said in a My Edmonds News comment, “profanity and profane name calling should be unacceptable in any workplace setting especially in front of staff and elected officials.”

In that same council meeting, according to the approved minutes, Councilmember Dave Teitzel referenced a guest view article authored by then-Council President Fraley-Monillas, which appeared in the Edmonds Beacon. In it she attempted to inappropriately undermine a majority vote after the fact. Councilmember Teitzel stated that “the article is full of innuendo, misinformation and falsehoods designed, apparently, to influence public opinion against Council. The article is very disappointing and unbecoming of a Council President.”He summed up his comments by saying, “Going forward, it is my hope the new Council President is much more circumspect in written and verbal comments, bases arguments on facts and data, and refrains from using falsehoods and innuendo in attempting to sway public opinion.”

Using race to gain attention

Councilmember Fraley-Monillas frequently invokes race to garner attention, a mindset that only serves to divide people and sensationalize her speech. In a Facebook post, she referred to some Edmonds residents who signed a petition asking Mayor Mike Nelson to resign as “that pack of downtown rich white people.” She tried to defend her statement by saying it was made on a private website: “It’s a private Edmonds Website, ‘Indivisible Edmonds’; a very private site.” (My Edmonds News, Jan. 6, 2021) The fact that she makes such discriminatory and offensive comments about Edmonds’ citizens on “a very private site” almost makes it worse. How many other awful comments are out there on other such “very private sites.” As a sitting councilmember she has an obligation to refrain from such disparaging comments about the city she represents regardless of how private the platform is. Make no mistake, this is what Councilmember Fraley-Monillas thinks of people who have political opinions different from her own. Rather than having the skill to argue for her ideas and policies, she resorts to name-calling.

She has also been called out for referring in local media to “all the racism in Edmonds.” These kinds of unfounded and unconstructive statements serve only to get her attention and do harm to Edmonds.  This is neither good legislating skill nor is it respectful to her constituents.

Optics over public safety

The botched and biased confirmation process for Edmonds’ police chief shows Councilmember Fraley-Monillas bullying her way through a process that should have been deliberate and careful. From the My Edmonds News expose on the police chief selection debacle, (City learned about Pruitt’s history two weeks before mayor’s nomination” Posted: Jan. 15, 2021) we learned that, in attempting to at least slow down the process so more due diligence could be done when red flags surfaced about the mayor’s pick, Councilmember Vivian Olsen took three key actions, well within the scope of her duties as a councilmember, according to City Attorney Jeff Taraday:

Dec. 3: Councilmember Vivian Olson calls the HR Director with questions about domestic violence issues she had become aware of in Pruitt’s past.

Dec. 4: Olson orders her own copy of the documents.

Dec. 6: Olson receives documents; emails copies to the HR Director, the mayor and all council members.

Dec. 8:  Councilmember Fraley-Monillas supplies the determinative vote to not go into Executive Session where the issues about Mr. Pruitt’s background could be discussed.

We know then that Councilmember Fraley-Monillas and others had important information about Mr. Pruitt that required at a minimum further investigation before council voted to affirm him as Edmonds’ Police Chief. Nonetheless, former Council President, Fraley-Monillas proposes expediting the affirmation process by a week and votes against going into Executive Session at which time a confidential discussion of the issues around Mr. Pruitt would have likely resulted in a postponement of the vote until the issues could be properly investigated.

And from the Approved Minutes of the Dec. 8 City Council Meeting we learn that Councilmember Olson was disparaged for her due diligence. She stated she “felt she was being pressured and told she was being unkind in her assertions that things were left out of the background check, but she believed that was the case. Despite repeated denials that things came up in the background check, she knew there were holes in it. In the end, it was all about public safety.” It is clear from the chain of events in the police chief selection process that Councilmember Fraley-Monillas not only advocated rushing the process when she had reason to believe there were issues with Mr. Pruitt, but she disparaged Councilmember Olson’s ethics when she accused her of racially motivated research about Mr. Pruitt.

Irresponsible behavior

Then there was the “drinking incident.” (See recording of Aug. 24, 2021 council meeting).  It showed very poor judgment on Councilmember Fraley-Monillas’ part to attend a council meeting while under the influence of both alcohol and pain killers.  The point here is not that she simply “had a glass of wine with dinner” or that she had to take pain killers for a dental issue, but that she was clearly impaired at a meeting during which legislative decisions are made and votes are taken. Then, in an astonishing attempt to rebut remarks in a letter written to My Edmonds News about the incident (My Edmonds News Sept. 14, 2021), she tried to change the subject by making unfounded accusations about council meeting attendees’ “wild behavior” and drinking. The citizens she accused of such behavior were really ordinary residents attending an open public meeting to bring up concerns about children’s safety, speeding, elimination of single-family neighborhoods, the portal to report on your neighbors installed by the mayor and other important issues. And, with the police in place at that meeting, surely if there had been public drinking it would have been reported to them and violators cited. She capped it off by comparing Edmonds’ citizens who attended that Council meeting to the Jan. 6 rioters at the Capitol. Remember, although she apologized to fellow councilmembers, she has not ever apologized to the citizens of Edmonds for being under the influence at a council meeting.

Showing utter disrepect for the citizens of Edmonds

Finally, and in my opinion, the most egregious, disrespectful, and premeditated behavior on her part is when she made a brazen disrespectful gesture on screen toward residents speaking before council.  (see screenshot insert below from the Sept. 7 council meeting at the 1:10 mark). This offensive sign is recognized as indicating that another person is a “loser.” To be clear, Councilmember Fraley-Monillas directed this offensive gesture at fellow Edmonds’ citizens speaking at a council meeting, a disrespectful gesture aimed not just at the commentors, but really at all of us.

When your ballots arrive, keep this image in your mind.  We do have the power to vote her out of office.

— By Lynne Chellius

Lynne Chellius lives in Edmonds

Publisher’s note: Reader View columns are opinions submitted by readers and do not represent the opinions of My Edmonds News.

  1. Thank you for your commentary Lynne. I completely agree with you.

    One other lesser discussed aspect of CM Fraley-Monillas’s behavior is her non-verbal body language. Albert Mehrabian, is a well known researcher on the impact of body language has showed through science that 55% of communication is non-verbal (38% vocal and 7% “words”). We often speak about the impact on civility based on what is just “said” rather than looking at the entire communication style.

    In the zoom era of council meetings, dismissive non-verbal communication is on constant display from CM Fraley-Monillas. This is a form of bullying and attempt to belittle those of which she disagrees with.

    – head shaking when she doesn’t like another council member or citizen’s comments
    – Sly smirks and furrowed brow
    – Shoulder Shrugging
    – heavy sighs
    – arms crossed
    – turning off camera temporarily
    – Hand signals

    CM Fraley-Monillas uses these, among other techniques to display her displeasure and she does it on a constant basis. When meetings are in chambers, the impact of these non-verbal cues is effectively neutered. The council members aren’t looking at each-other and the distance between citizens and council members is far enough where non-verbal cues are harder to see. However, with Zoom meetings, each council member can see each other and in an “up front and personal” way. CM Fraley Monillas has weaponized this through using non-verbal tools coupled with tone/inflection and words to harass her fellow councilmembers and citizens. This is not okay.

    To be clear, CM Fraley-Monillas is not the only guilty party to using dismissive or aggressive non-verbal communication during council members. Nobody is perfect. But CM Fraley-Monillas does it many times over in nearly every meeting. It’s not an accident, or a slip-up. It’s an intentional method of coercion and bullying. This type of behavior is reprehensible and not becoming of an elected official or a responsibly acting adult.

    Leaders create bridges between people of varying viewpoints and do not drive a wedge between people in community.

  2. (2 of 2)
    One of the many reasons I’ll be voting for Neil Tibbott, is that he has shown the ability act level headed manner that is respectful of all view-points. No, he isn’t perfect. I know he’s struggled in this race to find the balance between holding his opponent accountable for her actions while staying positive and on message about how he will positively impact “political climate change” in Edmonds. However, what I believe is important for voters to understand is that the past is the best indication of the future. CM Fraley-Monillas has shown through demonstrable examples the lack of ability to be respectful to fellow councilmembers and to the Citizens. Why should we expect that to change?

    Neil, on the other hand, has four previous years on council. I would challenge any CM Fraley-Monillas supporter to show examples where Neil has exhibited the same type of behavior that citizens are pointing out with regard to CM Fraley-Monillas. If you can, I’ll gladly “eat crow” but I’m pretty confident you’ll come up empty handed. And Neil, through this election season, has shown the ability to LISTEN to citizens, through his proactive requests for input. This survey being just one example:

    I am confident that Mr. Tibbott will be a representative for all of Edmonds, if we give him that chance. Vote Tibbott, we need leaders in this city.

  3. Thank you, Lynne.
    I hope people share this out beyond reading it in MEN. This is the most clearly written and factual representation of the incidents that I’ve read and show incumbent Adrienne Fraley-Monillas’ lack of respect for her fellow council members and the community she is supposed to represent and serve.

    Share this on Facebook!
    Email/Text it to your family and friends!
    Talk about it with your neighbors!

    There are lots of supporters of AFM in our town who, for some reason, either condone or ignore her disrespectful and inappropriate behavior.
    There are those who just don’t follow the happenings of City Council and aren’t aware.

    Those of us who do not condone her behavior MUST take an ACTIVE role in informing others who might not pay attention to the goings-on in City Government.

    Please get involved. Gone are the times to keep your opinions in a silo. Be outspoken and demand accountability by voting AFM out – and be sure to get a few friends to join with you.

    This election should be a landslide for Neil Tibbott- we should be sending a loud message to our local Government that we reject this kind of abusive, reckless and disrespectful behavior.

    Each one of us needs to increase awareness of this important election because our city deserves better!

  4. Calling one’s constituents “racist” and flashing them “Loser” signals is just an unfathomable (to me anyway) method of signalling to them that you want to represent them in a fair and unbiased manner. Self destructive behavior is generally not a great way to obtain or retain elective office. Trump is the only politician I’ve ever seen who has been able to translate what most (the majority) would consider to be self destructive behavior into elective office and he was only successful because of the antiquated electoral college system used to elect our national leader. (Trump has never won the popular vote). I suspect and hope AFM cannot win a popular vote either, or anymore at least, after her amazingly self destructive performance while in office.

  5. So, the piling on of Adrienne Fraley Monillias, based on your research, makes her an irresponsible adult and a coercive bully? Just saying? Others on the Council do it , and the Mayor does it regularly loudly and with great gusto. . She gets singled out. How is your comment useful or helpful. Recall her campaign began with comments about how recent her photo was (seriously? Well seriously sexist). It was a good photo and one she should be proud of. Still. That is where it began. An irresponsible adult? Hard to see that. She wasn’t a retiree from the wealthy classes when she began her service on Council 0r n0w. Not a hobby for her.
    Have you met her son? He has medals from the Special Olympics and she is fiercely and rightfully proud of him. She has spent her time and energy supporting his efforts. She has advocated for areas outside the Bowl for at least 12 years. She has survived cancer. She shows up. Always has. So, irresponsible adult? Hardly. Even the car she drives has been critiqued every election season.

    I do not condone her erratic behavior of late. Nor do I intend to vote for her. But I also feel piling on is just mean. Research or not. Hiding behind research to get to “bully, coersive, and irresponsible adult”? Just a truly cheap shot.
    The pandemic has upended all of us in ways we could not have imagined just 2 years ago. We are all struggling.
    But enough is enough for me. She is a person underdeserving of such armchair backhanded name calling. She has always advocated strongly for what she believes in. Irresponsible adult? Just stop it. Advocate for your chosen candidate instead.

    1. Diane – I am not hiding behind research by any means. As I mentioned in my comment, other CM’s have been guilty of the same non-verbal conduct. But CM Fraley-Monillas does it day-in-day-out and (in my view) is the only one to do so. I care deeply about the issue bullying and feel it’s necessary to call out the perpetrator – especially when it’s someone who claims to be the victim. That is CM Fraley-Monillas. She’s not being targeted, it’s her behavior that is leading others to to have firm/harsh words of accountability.

      By the way, those who commented on her photo early in the campaign were/are sexist. Plain and simple. No other way of addressing it. That doesn’t provide a license for her to verbally and non-verbally abuse others. It’s been “trump like” in many ways. If CM Fraley-Monillas was empathetic, the attacks would not be made. But, when she is out on the campaign trail and in council meetings, playing the “victim” and bullying others I feel it is necessary to address. I have kids entering school and it horrifies me to see the example she is setting for our children. CM Fraley-Monillas is being called because many of us are horrified by her conduct. That is it, and it’s necessary to address in a public forum to ensure the public is aware of what is going on.

    2. Diane T,

      I don’t consider truthfully reminding everyone of Adrienne’s behavior “piling on.” Every issue that was mentioned is backed up with video. She has shown shocking disrespect to the people who she works for: the taxpayers of Edmonds. The mayor is not currently running for office. I’m sure his poor behaviors will be brought up if he decides to run for mayor again.

  6. Thank you for writing a thoughtful and factual account of the extremely disturbing actions of Monillas. Edmonds citizens deserve better than this.

  7. Diane T:
    It is the right and the civic duty of each citizen to hold their elected officials accountable, and we should exhibit the respect and integrity that we demand. Having said that, at last review, I feel that the comments here are targeted at CM Fraley-Monillas disrespectful behavior and poor judgement in her role as an elected official of the City of Edmonds. The LTE written by Lynne was extraordinarily balanced and focused on CM Fraley-Monillas’ actions as a council member. I do not see any disparaging comments in reference to her as a mother or that target her as a private citizen, but rather, they are focused on her behavior as a CM.
    Except for the car- and I personally don’t care what kind of car she drives…that’s her business. I wish her good health and I applaud her for being a supportive mother!

    However, I must hold her responsible for her actions as a city council member, and even as an adult who holds a position of power.
    Are we to allow an elected official to openly and repeatedly treat those she was elected to represent with such disregard and disrespect? Is this a good role model for our kids?
    There are surely instances where other council members past and present may have lost their cool and exhibited poor judgement, and they too should be or should have been held accountable. But the regularity and consistency that CM Fraley-Monillas has exhibited in the past few years, coupled with a complete refusal (dare I say reckless belligerence) to take any accountability or apologize is far and above anything I’ve ever seen. Who exactly does she think she is?
    Mayor Mike is also guilty of gas-lighting those voice their dissent, but that’ll have to be addressed at another election!
    If you have information that will bring awareness to any of the candidates I implore you to share it.
    We all need to be fully aware and informed of the decisions, behavior and track records of those who are asking for our precious votes.

  8. I would like to respond to Diane T. I tried very hard in my “Reader View” to respond to Councilmember Fraley-Monillas’ behavior as an elected official. I tried to document every point I made so that I was not making an unfounded rant against her.

    I very much admire her for her support of her son and I am sure she is a fantastic mom. She would be a wonderful advocate for the underrepresented neighborhoods in Edmonds.

    However, in my opinion, based on the kinds of behaviors that I spoke to in my piece, it is time for a more polite and fair voice on Council.

  9. Thank you, Lynne. I was very aware of some of the incidents of Adrienne F-M’s disrespect but you detailed more than I knew. I appreciate your factual information . I will be voting for Neil Tibbott.

  10. Lynne, really excellent LTE. I hope everyone in Edmonds reads your letter and gives it thoughtful consideration before voting. Edmonds deserves the best.

  11. Very well said Lynne. I decided quite a while ago, I would not be voting for her. Our city should be embarrassed to have her on our city council. Shame on the mayor for allowing this behavior to continue.

  12. I don’t claim to be the most astute person when it comes to local politics, and I can’t say I’ve attended, either in-person, or virtually, any Edmonds City Council meetings. That said, not too long ago, I was invited by my neighbor to tag along with councilwoman Fraley-Monillas for a tour of Edmonds neighborhoods adjacent to Highway 99. The councilwoman greeted me warmly – even though I wasn’t “officially” invited – and for the next hour she gave us a tour, generously using her car and gasoline, of parts of Edmonds I had never seen. The tour was enlightening and a few things were very obvious: she genuinely cares about underserved parts of Edmonds, and has a level of insight and knowledge into these areas that I doubt other local politicians have. Her caring and passion has stuck with me ever since, and it was refreshing to experience firsthand a local politician generously going out of her way to spend time with a couple of constituents. Thanks to the councilwoman, I learned a lot about our city and underserved neighborhoods.

    1. Larry, the meetings are all recorded. You should watch some of them. In particular, the ones where Adrienne was completely disrespectful and out of line.

  13. Apparently Ms. Fraley-Monillas, by her own admission and apology attended a City Council meeting (August 24, 2021) while impaired. I understand that the combination of pain meds (for dental pain) and wine at dinner led to this condition.
    I must assume that the pain meds were a prescription med and not an OTC pill. Don’t pain meds come with warnings against combining with alcohol and a warning to refrain from driving or operating machinery? If so, Ms. Fraley-Monillas apparently disregarded the first warning. In my opinion disregarding the warning showed a lack of good judgement in regards to her health, not to mention the consequences of making decisions on the behalf of her constituents while impaired.

  14. AFM, like all our other six elected Council Persons, is supposed to be representing all Edmonds citizens equally and at large based on how our city government is currently constituted. Who or what determines which neighborhoods are “under served” or over served? Is there any code that prevents people from one neighborhood spending time enjoying the amenities of another neighborhood? What makes one neighborhood a suitable place for low income housing and another neighborhood not appropriate?

    Edmonds has a lot of difficult and unanswered questions and who we elect to answer them is pretty critical. It looks to me like many of the people we tend to elect are in over their heads and a little biased in their viewpoints. We do not have true representative government in Edmonds at this time. Our pol.s tend to represent us only when and if they feel like it. Our pol.s also tend to support and defend a lot of special interests that aren’t particularly necessary or good in terms of just having a functional city that works for everyone. Too many noble causes and not enough practical efficient programs for basic care of what we already have and will lose if we aren’t careful.

  15. Larry,
    I’m glad you had a good experience with Fraley-Monillas. My interaction with her was very negative. I met her at the old senior center. She couldn’t have been more foul. Very obviously in a bad mood. I thought, why are you here? I have not seen any positive since.

  16. So many amazing responses and Lynn I appreciate such detail as I was not involved in 2019. I’m not surprised that Diane Buckshnis was poorly treated going back that far. Monillas behavior, actions, lies. Fabrications, drinking while representing constituents, badgering council in her remarks is all simply undignified. Diane, FACTS are not “cheap shots” please don’t defend her bad actions. Larry, I too am glad you had a good experience with Monillas. It tells me if Monillas did such a good job at giving you a tour perhaps she would make a better “tour guide” than a council member!

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.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.