Mayor issues order addressing reports that councilmembers are bullying staff

Mayor Mike Nelson

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson on Tuesday afternoon said he has issued a new administrative order regarding workplace professionalism, which is directly aimed at city councilmembers who “belittle, intimidate and humiliate” city employees.

According to a city news release, some staff members have experienced workplace interactions with city councilmembers that the employees have felt to be unprofessional, and that such interactions may have impacted employee productivity and job satisfaction. The mayor is intending for this order is to provide employees with a tool to bring such concerns forward to be addressed, the release said.

“I will not tolerate from councilmembers the bullying of our city employees,” Nelson said. “To belittle, intimidate, and humiliate the people who are dedicated to our city every waking hour, is unacceptable. Our city employees are our greatest asset and we should treat them as such.”

The order states: “If any employee has such an interaction with a member of the city council that may impact the work environment, they are asked to provide the human resources department with the information needed to effectively address and resolve the concerns raised to the extent possible.”

According to the city announcement, this reporting process supplements, but does not replace, procedures already outlined in the city personnel policies for reporting discrimination or harassment in the workplace. It is intended to be a resource to address workplace professionalism concerns that fall short of unlawful discrimination and harassment. All investigations and any subsequent actions taken will be available for disclosure to the public upon request.

“Employee well-being is paramount so our city can run efficiently and effectively. Our human resources department will investigate any bullying claims of staff and the results of investigations will be available for the public upon request. In fact, today, HR has already been contacted and are considering opening their first investigation.”

Council President Vivian Olson

In response, Edmonds City Councill President Vivian Olson said it is unfortunate the mayor chose to issue the order, and a news release regarding it, to city staff and the news media prior to informing the city council.

“The council and the staff play important roles in building a cohesive city team, as does the mayor,” Olson said in an email. “It saddens me that the mayor doesn’t work with councilmember(s) directly to resolve any communications concerns, and further, that he distributes a policy naming council to staff and press without council engagement on (or even knowledge of) the policy.”



  1. So he is accusing others of what he himself has a history of doing. Combined with his flair for photo ops and ignoring most citizens, he’s the perfect stereotypical politician.

  2. How is it even possible for a Council Member to “bully” a staff person? Asking a city worker to explain his or her actions or work is not bullying them. If their feelings are that easily hurt, they should look for work elsewhere. They are by definition, public servants. Council Members are also members of the public and, just like the public, they can ask reasonable questions and expect reasonable answers from all OUR employees, including the Mayor, who is an elected public servant who is supposed to be looking out for the best interests of all of us, not just chosen people or neighborhoods in town. It’s a very (too) powerful position that very few people are capable of handling well.

    I don’t know of any circumstance that would allow a Council Member to fire or even reprimand a city employee in any official capacity. Any threats along those lines would be useless and meaningless on the part of any C.M. and the employees certainly know that or can easily find out that, if they say they don’t know it for some reason. That power is given only to the Mayor, Directors and Human Resources and simply won’t be undertaken seriously or legally by persons on the City Council.

  3. Just like that van the other day in downtown Edmonds ,Mayor Nelson is careening out of control. Unable to work with the council in a professional manner or courtesy, Mayor Nelson is the one acting like the bully.

  4. If HR is as good as it should be-They are watching every step IN THE PROCESS. This will be interesting to read about one day………

  5. Perhaps Ms. Olsen and Ms Buckshnis should stop harassing the staff.
    The staff that have quit in the last year didn’t accidentally quit! Wake up Viv
    And understand you’re part of the problem according to the unions

    1. Your funny cause you bullied constituents on a regular basis when they didn’t agree with you. Did HR investigate that? Just wondering. Because you sound like a hypocrite.

    2. Adrienne, how is it you are in possession of information that Ms. Olsen and Ms. Buckshnis are “harassing the staff?” Since you are somehow so much in the know about current city politics; perhaps you could enlighten us all about what this “harassment” actually consists of and why it is of such concern to the Mayor right now. If some staff decides to quit, is that some sort of city wide disaster? Are they not replaceable? Are the citizens really required to assure the staff members that they will have a wonderful job, where they can do only what they want and think is right and only answer questions they want to for as long as they choose? As a council person did you actually think you worked for the Mayor and the Unions and not your constituents. I think you are actually much smarter than this and could be a force again in local politics; if you could somehow throw the group think habit you seem so addicted to.

    3. A perplexing comment, Adrienne.

      I have the utmost appreciation for our union employees (who perform the City’s most critical functions) . That said, Councilmembers have no contact with union members or the unions.

    4. I can’t say that I’m surprised by the tactics employed by Mayor Nelson and AFM, but I am appalled by their unprofessional behavior. If there have been accusations of misconduct, such as bullying, there should have been an investigation involving both parties done by an impartial arbitrator. Why is AFM so quick to name Ms Buckshnis and Ms Olsen and declare them guilty before they have had a chance to even be heard?
      Revenge politics need to stop!
      AFM has a long history of disrespectful behavior that has contributed to the dismal situation between the city council and mayor and other officials. Is it too much to ask you to be respectful?

  6. Mayor Sponge Bob Square Pants again tries to make a potential issue that should be handled privately and professionally into a public debate without doing his job first. I don’t trust nor believe the mayor but if it is an issue a competent leader would not make this a public issue without first trying to resolve the issue internally. Another attempt by a weak pathetic mayor to try to make himself relevant when he has proven to be an incompetent, irresponsible, and irrelevant. Elections have consequences and thankfully we had one last fall and another one coming that will take care of this mistake and give Edmonds a much needed courtesy flush.

  7. These issues, if they exist, should be handled through HR, privately and not through the media. The Mayor again has taken the wrong approach and it appears he is only looking for attention. Ho-Hum.

  8. The Mayor’s “administrative order” that staff may now complain to Human Resources about a Council member who they claim is “bullying” them is absurd. Human Resources has no authority over our elected Council members. The only body that has the authority to discipline a Council member is Council.

    Mayor Nelson does not have the authority to manage, or in any way control or influence, the questions asked by Council members of staff. It is the Mayor’s administrative duty to ensure that his staff provide information and answer Council members’ questions. As the legislative body, Council must be provided all the information they need, and ask any and all questions they choose, in order to make appropriate legislative and budgetary decisions on behalf of the citizens of Edmonds.

  9. C’mon Edmonds we can do better than this phony Mayor…we can do much better. A real leader would have dealt with this issue behind closed doors and not make it a public forum
    Always two sides to consider.
    So ironic that AFM popped off on this blog! Good riddance, your behavior on the council was appalling.

  10. They are paid by the people to do the people’s work lead and instructed by our elected officials. I want my elected leaders to keep the administrative state in check. I don’t know just what has gone on but to a certain extent if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen. The elected leaders answer to the voters staff answers to the elected leaders.

  11. Nothing to see here. This is classic political posturing by partisan operatives ahead of the 2023 election cycle. Mayor Nelson and former CM Fraley-Monillas are attempting snake oil partisanship by attempting to smear mud on candidates presumably running for re-election next year. Coincidence that Former CM Fraley-Monillas named CP Olson and CM Buchnisis in this tread while they are the two CMs up for re-election of which she dislikes? I think not…. This is classic partisanship in a ramp-up to the next election cycle.

  12. Glad there is a proper procedure now in place–it can be extremely difficult when there is someone above you harassing, bullying and intimidating you while you just try to do your job. That is unacceptable and makes it a challenge to do the proper work required. Thank you Mayor.

  13. Maybe it is time for Council to propose an ordinance requiring the Mayor to submit any of his “executive orders” to the Council for ratification within 15 days of issuance. The mayor has no authority to regulate the behavior of Council, and has tolerated “bullying” behavior in Council meetings as long as his tribe did the bullying. The HR department messed up the police chief appointment totally, if anyone can remember back that far. It is also the Mayor’s responsibility to manage staff, not go straight to the press with his mismanagement problems. Edmonds government looks like an out of control daycare center ( apologies to toddlers..many of whom behave better than this)

  14. This sounds like a very cathartic process of `neener neener neener’!
    Perhaps it would be productive to address the concerns of the community; if there is concern for process, ethics or budget. The council members and city employees have conflict about process, and it is time for both to address specific grievance and proceed forward. It may be unrealistic to resolve some issues with a simple vote, and perhaps both sides of the elected government need to let go of frustration and address options of effective solutions. Indifference to complaints from both sides, limits solutions and intervention will be required (lawyer) whom could legally address what are the processes required to achieve effective representation.

  15. The comment by AFM is hypocrisy personified! BAR NONE the most devisive council member in recent memory and the very reason she no longer is involved in decision making regarding our city. Your insinuation regarding Vivian Olsen and Ms Buckshnis bullying tactics is uncalled for unless substantiated, but of course your agenda is to bully if not agreeable to your far left ideaology. While a council member your bullying tactics were what helped you get un-elected.

    1. I don’t recall ever seeing Vivian Olsen admonishing anyone during a council meeting. I infact think she is pretty quiet and lets them talk, the rest. I do think some take more time then they should as sharing time is important like all sharing is to me. So yeah. I don’t know who is bullying who but I do agree if someone is not doing the job they were hired to do we need to know why and how to fix it. Just like with any job anywhere. So who is saying who isn’t doing a good job and who is the city employee or consultant or whatever that is being accused of not doing a good job. let your citizens decide by what they see in our many different areas would be a good way.

  16. One Council person is never engages in the bickering, comes prepared to meetings, engages on policy and behaves with dignity and grace whether or not she is in the majority. She has endured harrassment for a disability, had her medical issues bandied about by others on Council, ( and a former member in comments). Yet there she is, polite, knowledgeable and I hope she takes great pride in her accomplishments. I may not always agree with her, but when she speaks I listen knowing that she is well versed on the issues. Kristiana Johnson has been serving the citizens of Edmonds well. Thank you Councilperson K. Johnson.

    1. I totally agree. She is a professional it is clear to me. I thank you too Kristiana Johnson. You the voice of reason often and always know what is going on it seems from past to present. If everyone could remain as cool headed as you and I am not speaking of the council really but everyone. You have shown you are a Bi-Partisan person. This is what we need. I am not going to dis anyone here at all. I am quitting that although I haven’t said too much for awhile now. I am not a worker for the city just a citizen and I am going to try to just be quiet if I feel like I want to brutalize another out of anger. If I feel it necessary I will Email from now on and not do it in the public eye. And even then no matter who they are from every office to cc or even citizens I will do it with grace.

  17. Hard to evaluate this when the Mayor offers no specific examples of any Council Member actions which he claims “belittle, intimidate and humiliate” city employees. Has the Mayor spoken privately with any alleged offender? If so, with what result?
    All City employees should be treated respectfully but, none are above being criticized by Council Members or the public if they honestly think the persons job performance is unacceptable or sub-par. The devil is in the details and the manner in which any criticism is made. One persons expressing an opinion on someone’s job performance may be viewed by the recipient feeling they are being bullied. Since the Mayor offers only allegations and no facts, the suspicion is that this is all just political posturing by the Mayor. The Mayor’s actions leave a stain of suspicion on all Council Members. This is unfair. If he really thinks there is a problem lets hear the facts and let the public judge the merits.

    1. So true Don. It really makes me sad to see what looks like this insane need to remake our little village by the sea all the time by a select few people who constantly want to “improve” on what’s really good already. The perfect is always the enemy of the already really good here. Civic Park re-do being an obvious example. AFM was right on that one. The bleachers had to go, but that was about it. AFM is also right about Hwy 99 neighborhood needing the attention now, not our downtown so much as it gets for whatever reasons.

  18. Another tantrum by the mayor trying to recover some face after the elected members of our City Council put him in his place as we elected them to do. Get with the program; the citizens don’t want your virtue signaling or your asinine power trips. Drop the Mike already Edmonds.

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