Edmonds City Council July 26 set to discuss process for filling vacant Position 1 seat

Among the items on the Tuesday, July 26 Edmonds City Council agenda: Discussing steps for filling the Position 1 seat left vacant with the July 18 death of Councilmember Kristiana Johnson and repealing the city’s gun storage ordinance, which was invalidated by the State Supreme Court.

The July 26 agenda suggests consideration of adding two additional questions to the council vacancy application form approved in 2019:

1. Tell us about your experience as an Edmonds resident.
2. How have you included others in important conversations from under-served or hard-to-reach populations in the past?

The proposed timeline for the appointment process is as follows:
– Application posting date: Friday, July 29
– Application deadline: Friday, Aug. 19
– Interview dates: Still to be determined, pending staff availability
– Date of nominations/voting/appointment: Set once interview dates are determined.

The city’s gun storage and unauthorized use ordinance,was proposed in July 2018 by then-City Council President Mike Nelson, and was subsequently enacted by a 5-to-1 council vote. Passage of the ordinance set the stage for a flurry of legal actions, rulings and appeals pitting gun rights advocates against the city. Opponents maintained that the ordinance was illegal, in that it violated the Washington State Preemption Statute (RCW 9.41.290), which gives the state exclusive authority over firearms regulations statewide.

In a unanimous decision in April 2022, the Washington State Supreme Court denied the city’s petition to overrule last year’s Appeals Court decision that effectively invalidated the ordinance.

The council’s Public Safety, Planning, Human Services and Personnel Committee, which includes Councilmembers Laura Johnson and Susan Paine, during a special meeting July 18 talked about what options might be available to the council prior to repealing the ordinance. The committee agreed to place the matter before the full council for further discussion.

Other items on the council agenda include:

– An update on development activities in the city.

– A report on construction bids for the Seaview Park Infiltration Facility Phase 2 Project.

– Award of a construction contract for the 76th Overlay Project.

– Consideration of staff requests to either add new employees or change certain jobs from part-time to full-time roles. Among the affected positions: a domestic violence coordinator, public disclosure specialist and public records associate.

In addition, the council is set to continue part 2 of its Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) training, a followup from the council retreat earlier this year.

The business meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. Prior to that meeting, the council will hold a 6:15 p.m. executive session, closed to the public, to discuss collective bargaining.

Those who want to join the 7 p.m. meeting virtually in lieu of in-person attendance can click on or paste the following Zoom meeting link into a web browser using a computer or smart phone: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261. Or comment by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261.

Regular council meetings beginning at 7 p.m. are streamed live on the council meeting webpage, Comcast channel 21, and Ziply channel 39.

  1. The last appointment Council made was Luke Distolhorst, who was not re elected (by a wide margin). Laura Johnson and Susan Paine in committee decided to delay repealing an ordinance which as I read it is still on the books when the WA Supreme Court in a 9-0 decision and subsequent order, requires Edmonds to repeal it because it is not within the authority of the City Of Edmonds to enact firearm legislation.
    Council seems to have some difficulty understanding it’s own functions as a representative legal body of non partisans to simply run the city (not the state or the nation). Time will tell if the appointment reflects in anyway the tone of the last election. Edmonds voters were pretty clear.

    1. A point of clarification, at our Monday (last week) continued Committee meeting, CM Johnson and I agreed that the Resolution on this repeal should go forward to full council.

      1. Sorry, I was referring to your statements that you would like to take a couple of weeks on it, (watch the video) not that you both voted to move it out of committee only when Mr. Taraday could not assure you that there would not be legal consequences for the delay You did want to delay it, I misspoke that the two of you were successful in your wishes to take a couple of weeks

        1. Diane, You’re 100% correct on the first meeting. At that point in the meeting, we had run out of time and thought the Ordinance deserved more than just repealer language. Susan

      2. The Committee’s agenda for Monday July 18th included:

        Repeal of safe gun storage and related laws after Washington Supreme Court’s field preemption ruling (10 min)

        Repeal is accomplished via Ordinance.

        The Committee did not have discussion of a Resolution on its Agenda. Do Committees have the authority to go beyond what is on the Agenda and recommend action not included in the Committee’s Agenda?

        Also, isn’t it the Council President who has the authority to formulate and prepare the agenda for city council meetings? Why would a committee be able to usurp that authority by deciding they can agree on their own that they want something on the full council agenda that wasn’t even on the committee agenda?

        1. Ken, Committees can add to their agendas independent of the CP. it’s definitely not usurpation. Susan

        2. RCW 35A.12.120 states City Council shall determine its own rules and order of business, and may establish rules for the conduct of City Council meetings and the maintenance of order.

          I’ve looked for an Edmonds City Council rule that says a Council Committee can add to the Council Committee agenda, but I can’t find such.

          Council Committees don’t even approve their agendas at the start of Council Committee Meetings, so I don’t know how a Council Committee would go about adding to or amending a Council Committee agenda.

          ECC 1.04.050 establishes our City Council Committee functions. I see no mention of adding to a Council Committee agenda.

          My understanding is that the City Council President formulates and prepares the agenda for all City Council meetings, including meetings of our standing Council Committees. If so, how could adding to a Council Committee agenda without the involvement of the City Council President not be a usurpation of Council President’s authority?

          If you have a link to a rule that allows such, please provide. I’m happy and willing to learn about something I was unaware of.

        3. Councilmember Susan Paine. I am hoping you will respond.

          My understanding is that the City Council President formulates and prepares the agenda for all City Council meetings, including meetings of our standing Council Committees. If so, how could adding to a Council Committee agenda without the involvement of the City Council President not be a usurpation of Council President’s authority?

          If you have a link to a rule that allows such, please provide. I’m happy and willing to learn about something I was unaware of.

          Thank you.

        4. Ken –

          Here’s the subsection in our code that allows for a continued discussion (item B). Our discussion about a resolution regarding safe storage of guns and gun safety in general is on topic. Due to the nature of Committee work, because discussions are not dispositive, they are allowed.

          1.04.050 Committee functions.Share

          A. Business items considered by a city council committee should only be forwarded to the city council consent agenda with the unanimous consent of the committee members.

          B. Committee business items that have not received unanimous support of the committee to be forwarded to the consent agenda may be discussed at a forthcoming committee meeting if additional committee work is likely to produce unanimity. Alternatively, the council president may place the item on a future council agenda for further deliberation and/or action by the city council.

          C. The council president shall be a nonvoting ex-officio member of all council committees, except when a regular committee member is absent, in which case the council president may vote. When a committee chair is absent, the other regular committee member shall serve as the committee chair.

          D. The mayor and council members from other committees may attend committee meetings of which they are not members and may join the discussion and ask questions about a committee business item if they have been present during the entire discussion of that business item; provided, that only committee members, or the council president when substituting for an absent committee member, may vote on committee business. Presence of a quorum of the city council at a committee meeting shall not change the character of the meeting from a committee meeting to a city council meeting. [Ord. 4073 § 1, 2017].

          Hope this helps,

        5. I am not asking about “continued discussion”. I am clearly asking about your representation that “Committees can add to their agendas independent of the CP”.

          I’m well aware of ECC 1.04.050 and referred to it in my previous post. ECC 1.04.050 does not support your representation that “Committees can add to their agendas independent of the CP”.

          So again, please provide a link to a rule that allows Committees to add to their agendas independent of the CP”. I’m happy and willing to learn about something I was unaware of. Thanks.

          These are important issues for all to understand.

          I also hope that City Council will someday be able to adopt Rules of Procedure. Proposed Council Rules of Procedure were in the February 4, 2020, Agenda Packet. It has been well over 2 years since a process to adopt Council Rules was started but Council has never been able to adopt Rules.

      3. Susan, the real point here is you need to just repeal the thing because it’s illegal under state law, end of story. You and Laura and maybe some others want to waste our time and taxes (your time is our tax money and you are behind on a whole bunch of more important actual stuff than this), with a bunch of discussion about meaningless “where as” language somehow protesting the state law or condemning the State Supreme Court. “Where as we passed an illegal ordinance, we here by repeal that ordinance. ” Pretty simple; Just do it; you don’t have to talk much about it to get it done.

  2. An additional question to the council vacancy application form should be:

    Are are a partisan, or will you only act in a partisan manner on Council?

    1. I like the spirit of the question, but I would suggest a small tweak. Here is how I would phrase it:

      “The Edmonds city council position is a non partisan position where the interests of the city are prioritized over any partisan positions. How will you act in a non partisan way and collaboratively work with members of opposing political view points?”

      Honestly the inability to answer this key question is in my opinion the primary reason why Janelle Cass lost the election, and Will Chen’s sufficient answer on this question is the primary reason why he won. I think a sufficient answer on this question will also be the primary factor on whether Janelle wins her current race as well.

      1. Your tweak phrases it better. Thus, Johnson and Paine should resign their positions because of their lack of acting in a nonpartisan way and collaboratively work with members of opposing political viewpoints.

        1. I completely agree Brian. I think that it is fine to be partisan in a councilmembers private life, as long as that is not brought into city business.

          There have been a fair amount of petty bickering on the council, and the ability to communicate professionally and effectively is probably one of the most important traits for a new councilmember. That is a basic requirement at almost every business, and should definitely be a requirement here.

          The important question for us here is what procedures would be required to get that question added to the questionnaire for prospective CM applicants?

  3. I object to the 2nd. proposed new question on the application form because it’s highly subjective in nature and presumes everyone has some sort of understanding about who and where these populations are located in our city. How does the council define an “under-served” individual? What makes a city citizen “hard to reach?” Some people prefer to be “hard to reach.” People like me (older white male living in the Bowl) have been referred to as “over-served”, whatever that means. Anyway, it’s a stupid, largely unanswerable, presumptive and biased question that should not be allowed. The first proposed addition is very appropriate and acceptable.

    1. I agree so much with what you say about it being impossible in Edmonds to know who is underserved. There is such a mixture of income and housing and cultures East of 9th its amazing. So you are right about that. As far as hard to reach well I don’t know. But I do know everyone isn’t on FB. I know we have many who speak different languages and enjoy different types of cultural fun (diversity) I love it myself. I don’t know how long you have lived in the Bowl Clint but I don’t know that you personally have been over served. I do think it appears sometimes that the Bowl gets everything first. For instance sidewalks planned when in many many parts of Edmonds there are none at all, and the ones that are are in such need of repair that a mother cannot walk her baby in a stroller so she goes to the middle of the street. Saw that too. I love the Bowl. I think it is beautiful. So anyway that is probably maybe ha what people mean by over served. I mean when a place has parks everywhere and yet still 5 corners for instance and I am sure other places have no park at all with sunlight and air and great playground equipment. These things tend to anger some after awhile. I have no children but it angers me for those who do and for the children. So I think maybe OK that they got little carried away in the Bowl and hopefully see this and will work on some of the basics in life that the rest of the cities citizens need too. Really need not just want. Xo to you. I like you Clint, I don’t know you but I do like you and what you say often. Deb

  4. Deborah, I’ve lived in the Bowl off and on since I was 13. My late wife and I purchased the house my present wife and I now live in from my mother and we love what we have going here. We have what we have partly because of luck but mostly because of hard work and planning ahead. I really resent it when people like Laura Johnson and Susan Paine refer to people like me and my neighbors as “over served” just because of where we happen to live. They have no right to try to shut us up or portray us as people who don’t like or look down on people who live in other parts of the town, or are poor or are homeless.

    I don’t hate Laura or Susan or anyone else in our beautiful patch of earth. But they are the ones behind this patently loaded question proposal and I’m calling them out on it. They don’t understand the responsibility to all citizens they are supposed to be representing and they need to resign or be recalled. The same goes for Mike Nelson, who I also do not hate or have any personal grudge against.

    My point here is that these three people are confused about who they are supposed to serve and how. I know they are all three good and well meaning folks, but enough is enough of their save the world agendas at our expense. I’m all for people like AFM and Will Chen demanding that Edmonds outside the Bowl gets its fair share of the pie, but they need to go about it without all the virtue signals, loaded questions and putting down people they may think are against them, because lots of us just aren’t that opposed to what they want for Edmonds and could be great allies if treated without contempt.

  5. Underserved, fairness, subsidy and all that stuff. Often our discussions are not based on facts first then on other discussions.
    Fact: I just looked up the land value of two homes in Edmonds, one in the bowl and one up about half mile away up by 5 Corners. Both nice homes but the land values are quite different. The bowl home is on .3 acres vs .46 for the other. The land value of the bowl home is $3.7m per acre. The 5 Corner homes land value is $1.1 per acre. A similar Lynnwood home is $945,000/ per acre.

    The land value for the bowl home is 336% higher than the 5 Corners home. Land values make up way more of the total value and in the case of the bowl home, the land value is over 70% of the total value. It is all in the price of the dirt folks.

    If we did the same analysis of the values of all the homes in Edmonds, (Edmonds Assessed Value is around $10-12B) it likely shows a great deal of difference among the 7 zones the council set up for the Housing Commission. Intuitively one could say the bowl pays far more taxes than the other zones.

    So for fairness, under/over served and all that. The data probably shows the bowl is not over served but is in fact subsidizing the other zones. With the development of Hwy 99 that subsidization concept will likely shift a bit, especially when the apartments that are being developed with the Multi Family Tax Exemption expires.

    Too long to go into here but Kristiana Johnson, rest in peace, once pointed out to me the sidewalk standards. Where are both sides needed, one side only or none at all. There are standards. The city would serve us all to share those standards with us so we more clearly talk about the needs and requirements for sidewalks.

    Bottom line, we will always have forms of cross subsidization, but we may want to sort out the facts first then add the opinions later.

  6. I would also like to see the candidates asked about their commitment to respond to citizens emails. I am not the only citizen that has never received a response from the Mayor or several Council Members.

  7. To Evan Nelson (and others who support adding the “non-partisan” question),

    In re: your question: “The important question for us here is what procedures would be required to get that question added to the questionnaire for prospective CM applicants?” Council is discussing the application tonight, so I suggest writing NOW to: Council@edmondswa.gov

    Urge all Council members to add the question. Don’t count on them reading and responding to this conversation. They are understandably very busy.

  8. I expect thoughtful applicants for this appointment will voluntarily respond to further questions such as those raised in these comments. The application form includes space for candidates to include such extra information.

  9. Point of clarification, the proposed additional 2 questions for the Council appointment application came from someone other than me. We had the chance to preview those last week.

    1. Should City Council be previewing new questions away from an Open Public Meeting?

      Edmonds City Code states:

      In addition the city council shall establish a process commensurate with the time available which includes, at a minimum, public notification by posting and publication in the city’s legal newspaper, the establishment of an application process with a clearly stated deadline for the submission of letters of interest, the development of questionnaires to assist the city council in its process, a public interview process conducted by the city council and nominations and selection by the city council during an open public meeting. All portions of this process shall be open to the public unless the city council in its discretion elects to discuss the qualifications of a candidate for public office in executive session as provided for by RCW 42.30.110(h).

      Also, the following is helpful:

      RCW 42.30.010
      Legislative declaration.
      The legislature finds and declares that all public commissions, boards, councils, committees, subcommittees, departments, divisions, offices, and all other public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of this chapter that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
      The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed and informing the people’s public servants of their views so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created. For these reasons, even when not required by law, public agencies are encouraged to incorporate and accept public comment during their decision-making process.

    2. This is all a moot point now, but someone came up with the loaded question I objected to for the application. Susan, if it wasn’t you and Laura, it had to come from the City Staff, which would make it even worse as a conflict of interest between the executive and legislative branches of our city government. It didn’t just come out of the clear blue sky. If I mistook your involvement in coming up with the question, I apologize. That, however, doesn’t negate my observation that the question was biased and presumptive in it’s premise, regardless of who came up with it originally.

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