This is an excerpt from the Edmonds Civic Roundtable’s (ECR) website:
“We strive to provide balanced and objective information to our residents, media, elected and appointed officials and other stakeholders in our community to assist in making informed decisions…”
On Jan. 24, I (Zoom) attended an event that the ECR had coordinated for citizens to learn about ranked-choice voting. Currently the laws do not allow for Edmonds to adopt ranked-choice voting, however there are bills being considered by the Washington State Legislature that would allow for this system to be adopted by our city council, should the bill pass.
I wanted to learn more about ranked-choice voting so I attended the public forum event virtually as I was out of town. Specifically, I was hoping to hear the pros and cons presented so that I could make my own informed decisions on the matter.
The keynote speaker was Lisa Ayrault, executive director of FairVote Washington. I found the presentation she gave to be informative, but one-sided. It was more of a “pitch” for ranked-choice voting than an objective presentation of facts, and it was short on data to support the argument to support this idea.
There were no speakers representing an opposing viewpoint at this public forum, the exception being a few attending residents who raised concerns related to the potential pitfalls of ranked-choice voting.
I guess that I assumed there would be a more balanced approach to the discussion of this topic presented to attendees based on the ECR’s own mission statement.
To ECR’s credit, they added the Zoom option to accommodate more attendees and they allowed time for questions and comments from those attending in person, as well as those attending virtually.
Toward the end of the meeting there was a question posed to the ECR group by an attendee as to why there was such a one-sided presentation. This also came up in a comment by a gentleman who I believe was a member of ECR (sorry, the Zoom connection wasn’t great), who expressed his concern that there were lobbyists being given the opportunity to share their views but only from one viewpoint. The response was that there had been guests booked to represent the opposing viewpoint but that they had canceled at the last minute and there was no time to re-book someone else.
Finally, Lisa Ayrault stated emphatically that she was not a lobbyist. However, according to online records, she is registered as one and receives compensation, which I found disappointing and confusing. This kind of undermined much of what I had heard during her presentation.
It is not currently a legal option but I have not yet made up my mind regarding ranked-choice voting and I look forward to the next public forum that Edmonds Citizen Roundtable organizes for residents to learn more about the opposing viewpoint toward RCV “to assist (residents) in making informed decisions…”