On 41st ballot, former Councilmember Dave Teitzel appointed to vacant Position 1 seat

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson, right, swears in newly appointed Councilmember Dave Teitzel Tuesday.

After six rounds of nominations and 41 ballots that spanned two meetings — and mostly focused on two candidates — the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night voted to appoint former City Councilmember Dave Teitzel from among 17 applicants to fill its Position 1 vacancy.

A retired QWest executive, the 70-year-old Teitzel — who was elected to the council in November 2015 and retired after one term — has lived in Edmonds for 35 years. He will take seat vacated with the unexpected death of Councilmember Kristiana Johnson July 18. If Teitzel wants to retain the position, he will have to run for election in November 2023.

The voting started with a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. but after no consensus on an applicant was reached, that meeting was adjourned just before 7 p.m. — the start of the council’s regular business meeting. After taking care of several other agenda items during that meeting, councilmembers returned to the applicant voting at 8:30 p.m.

For much of the evening, the six councilmembers’ votes were split between Teitzel and Maria Montalvo, a 21-year Edmonds resident and longtime community volunteer who serves as executive director of a foundation specializing in scholarships for military children and spouses.

Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis, Vivian Olson and Neil Tibbott consistently voted to support Teitzel, while Councilmembers Will Chen, Laura Johnson and Susan Paine mostly cast their ballots for Montalvo.

All three of the councilmembers who initially supported Montalvo noted the number of emails they had received in support of her appointment, pointing to her extensive range of community activities as well her ability, Councilmember Laura Johnson said, “to navigate hard conversations” and to “prioritize the underrepresented population of Edmonds,” among many other strengths. Montalvo co-chaired the Edmonds Veterans Plaza Committee, has chaired the boards of the Edmonds College Foundation and the Hazel Miller Foundation, and served on the Edmonds Public Facilities District board, the Edmonds Diversity Commission and the Snohomish County Foundation for Public Health.

Paine said Montalvo “would be a terrific addition. She knows how to make things happen and happen swiftly.” Chen added that he believed Montalvo would be someone who could bring the community together.

Speaking in support of Teitzel, Buckshnis said that he would be able to fill the late Councilmember Johnson’s shoes, calling him “an independent thinker” like Johnson was. “He’s very conservative about keeping the downtown, downtown and I believe that he has a proven track record,” Buckshnis said

Teizel said his friendship with Johnson inspired him to seek the council appointment, and he hoped to honor her legacy. During his interview with councilmembers Aug. 27, he also said his recent council experience — and the fact that he served on the body’s finance committee —  will allow him. to “step in very quickly and seamlessly” during the upcoming 2023 city budget season.

Three of the 17 council applicants talk prior to Tuesday’s meeting: From left, James Ogonowski, Natalie Seitz and Erika Barnett.

The councilmembers casting their ballots Tuesday did occasionally nominate and vote for other applicants, including Highway 99 neighborhood resident and frequent council commenter Natalie Seitz, business attorney Jenna Nand, retired dentist Michelle Dotsch, Salish Sea Brewing co-owner Erika Barnett and Edmonds Planning Board member Roger Pence. But none of those candidates got the four council votes required in any one round to give them the appointment.

The voting returned to a 3-3 split for Teitzel and Montalvo until Chen — on the 41st ballot — broke the tie by switching his support to Teitzel.

After his selection, Teitzel was immediately sworn in by Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson and took his place on the dais with the other councilmembers.

Dave Teitzel, left, after he took his seat on the dais.

Teitzel said he appreciated and respected each of the other 16 applicants. “The city’s very fortunate,” he said. “We have very qualified and very well-engaged citizens who want to serve.” He encouraged all of them to run for the council seats that will be open in 2023.

Chen noted that choosing the applicant to fill the vacant seat was a difficult decision and added that he respected all 17 of the applicants “tremendously. You have the community at heart,” he said.

In other business Tuesday night, the council:

– approved by a 5-1 vote Mayor Mike Nelson’s nomination of Oscar Antillon to become the city’s next public works director. Antillon is the current public works director for the Town of Los Altos Hills, California. Councilmember Neil Tibbott, who questioned Antillon’s short tenure in previous jobs, voted no.

– unanimously approved a request by Parks Director Angie Feser to use up to $450,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars to cover required stormwater mitigation for the new Civic Park site, now under construction. Treating all the stormwater at the park itself isn’t possible due to the high water table, so the city is instead treating it upstream in the Shell Creek watershed, in a right-of-way area on 96th Avenue West adjacent to Yost Park. To meet state requirements for treatment, stormwater will be collected into big vaults and infiltrated into the soil onsite. Read more about the project here. 

– Passed a resolution honoring the late Kristiana Johnson.

– Heard proclamations related to National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Hispanic Heritage Month.

– Received a suicide prevention report from the Snohomish Health District.

Two agenda items — updating the city code governing the city attorney and consideration of permanent design standards for multifamily buildings in the BD2 zone — were not considered Tuesday night due to time constraints.

— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel

  1. With Mr. Teitzel’s prior budget experience, Edmonds will be well served. Over the years he has always asked the tough questions about how we spend our tax dollars. We will never have all the funds available to match our “wish list” but the key may well be how do we prioritize the funds we have to match what the citizens want and need?

  2. How disappointing that we did not use the opportunity to bring new experiences and representation to our council, just a return to the past.

    1. This position and others will be up for election next year. Hopefully many of the folks who volunteered for this appointment will run for election next year. At that time 13,000 of us will have the opportunity to vote not just 6 people. There is much to do in the days, weeks and months ahead before the next appointment or election. CM Teitzel’s experience will be helpful for all of us.

    2. What did you have in mind? Town needs experience & common sense otherwise we’ll end the ‘mad max’ scene Seattle has become.

      1. So, one more time. If we want real people from real places on the city map to actually represent us, and our neighborhood’s needs, why don’t we go to the district system?

        The Strong Mayor/ at large Council system dates back prior to States even existing – feudal and pre-fuedal time in history and we wonder why it’s a never ending mess of favoritism and voting blocks of political influence.

        About 30 % of us nationwide want to even scrap democracy as a system, in favor of autocracy. It’s a major miracle some symbolence of order has lasted as long as it has.

        We now have one person on at large Council that might not even be a citizen, but a visitor, and she’s trying to pick another Council member for people who proudly make Edmonds their home. It’s a joke. A bad joke at that.

  3. As Vivian Olson and Diane Bucksnis noted last night there are going to be five open seats for Council in 2023, so the opportunity for new experiences and representation is vast in the very near future. As evidenced by the Liberal Leaning Johnson, Paine and Chen of the current Council, trying to get another high profile Democrat on the Council, to reinstall and complete another Liberal voting block, we can rest assured that the Democratic party will continue to try to control what happens in future Edmonds. I support many Liberal causes and ideas, but highly partisan influence (Left or Right) on any city council is a bad idea.

    Trying to live healthy a few more years, I’ve been walking around downtown more lately and I think it is too late to save the type of Edmonds I remember from a long term of residence here. Make no mistake, taller apartment buildings downtown, closing down streets for entertainment purposes and making tourism a prime source of business will change this town forever. In terms of protecting your home and lifestyle here, these next city council votes may be the most critical you ever cast.

    1. Congrats Councilman Dave ! There was a great group of citizens that stepped up for Edmonds. The Council had tough decisions to make last night. Our council and Edmonds Citizens have been through so much the last few years Let’s unite as ONE EDMONDS as Will Chen says. Let’s stop the divide and focus on community.

  4. Councilmember Dave Teitzel seems like the right person at the right time to fill the vacancy. It took CM Chen 40 votes to concede idea of reconstituting the “squad” with Johnson and Paine. It’ll be interesting to see how long Council Member Johnson wants to stick around if she’s always on the “short end of the stick” vote wise. Lots of opportunities for new faces at the next election for better or worse.

  5. Mr. Tibbott’s observation regarding the length of time in previous positions for the new Public Works Director is valid. The position is extremely crucial to the operation of the city on so many projects and services. Time will tell.

    1. Mike, I agree, I had that concern myself when looking into his background. I don’t feel Tibbott’s question of concern was adequately addressed either. Hoping the Public Works vetting process of candidates looked into this, but time will tell.

  6. Setting aside the final decision, it took 41 ballots for the Council to come together on an appointee? Uh…the conclusions you could draw from that….

  7. Congratulations to our new interim CM Dave Teitzel. It was great to see so many qualified people step up to serve our city.

    Thank you again Will Chen for your well made comments, your commitment to fair compromise, and your focus on productivity. You were exactly the CM this council needed, and I am time and time again appreciative that I voted for you to be on the council.

    Sounds like there could be some great candidates for this next election as well.

  8. I was very disappointed how the lack of diverse representation was passed over by the appointment of Dave Teitzel. Maria represented and speaks for our marginalized communities.

    1. I believe that all of our council shows and provides for all our marginalized communities. In a very non partisan manner. I liked Maria too BUT I felt Dave Teitzel was the person most qualified for the position. I believe he will do well. I read and read and reread every applicant and I chose 6. Dave and Maria were in my top 6. So I am happy about the decision that was made. As they said, many here, we will have openings in the very near future and maybe if still interested Maria will be one of those chosen at that time. Be positive. I thought she did sound like a very nice person and there were many reason I thought she could be trusted. So yeah its ok.. If you know Maria tell her hello for me. I would love to speak to her sometime myself. Thank you.

  9. I too would like to congratulate Dave. He earned the trust of his fellow council members and that should bode well for all of us.

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