An estimated crowd of 50 friends and supporters turned out at Edmonds’ Café Louvre Wednesday afternoon to hear 27-year Edmonds resident Kevin Fagerstrom officially launch his campaign for Edmonds City Council Position 6. The audience included current City Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis, Vivian Olson and Neil Tibbott, all of whom support Fagerstrom’s candidacy. The seat is currently held by Susan Paine, who last week announced her intention to run for reelection.
The 69-year-old Fagerstrom was introduced by former City Councilmember Tom Mesaros – who also occupied Position 6 before retiring from the council in 2019. Mesaros expressed how pleased he is to see “someone of Fagerstrom’s talent and abilities” run for the seat he formerly held.
“Kevin’s been involved in community service all his life,” Mesaros added. “And now he has the chance to do even more.”
Next to the speak was longtime family friend Susan Lowman Robinson, who spoke of Fagerstrom’s personal qualities. Robinson is a lifetime friend of Fagerstrom’s wife Cheri – they met in sixth grade – and she and her husband have enjoyed years of close friendship with Kevin and Cheri, from casual dinners to extensive travel.
“You really get to know someone when you spend a month with them on the African savannah,” she laughed.
“He cares, he thinks abouts others, he’s the guy you want to have beside you,” she said. “He’s the guy who shows up when you have a 1,000-pound beam to get in the ceiling, a 12-foot ditch to dig. He’s the guy who’s there with a hug and a full heart when you lose a loved one – the guy who’s always listening and trying to find a way to lighten your load – and wants nothing more than to do what it takes to make things right.
“On a community level, he’ll be the guy who listens with an open mind, who cares and who acts,” she concluded. “Kevin has no agenda – he’s not positioning himself to run for mayor, state senate or even dogcatcher – he simply wants to be of service. Being of service is an integral part of what Kevin is – he’s a gift to the city of Edmonds.”
Returning to the podium, Mesaros described Fagerstrom’s career background, and how this provides an ideal foundation for serving on the Edmonds City Council.
“Kevin began his career in community service as a reserve officer with the King County Sheriff, and became a full officer in 1978,” Mesaros began. “He had many accomplishments in this position, but a great example came in 1990 when the state passed the Growth Management Act (GMA).
“Immediately after passage, about 13 new cities popped up in King County, and the sheriff requested that Kevin take the lead in helping these cities develop their own police departments,” he continued. “These new cities had no established administrative infrastructure, and some started asking whether they could contract with the sheriff to provide police services. Contracting for police services was a new idea — it had never been done in Washington.
“Kevin rolled up his sleeves and dove right in, taking on the task of developing a program to make this happen,” he added. “And today, when you see Shoreline police cars, take a close look and you’ll see King County Sheriff’s Department painted on the side.”
Mesaros went on to describe how Fagerstrom retired from the King County Sheriff’s Department after moving to Edmonds in 1997. He then started in a new position as the City of Everett code enforcement director, where he provided knowledge of building codes to contractors and others to ensure compliance. After retiring from the county in 2018, he dove into serving the Edmonds community as a volunteer for the Edmonds Museum Summer Market, the Edmonds Museum Board, and the Edmonds Tree Board.
“He did such great work — and you know what the reward is for good work, right? More work!” Mesaros quipped. “Kevin now chairs the Museum Market Committee and has overall responsibility for ensuring the ongoing success of the summer market we all love.”
Then it was Fagerstrom’s turn to speak.
“Cheri and I moved here 27 years ago,” he began. “We were looking for the right place to raise our family. We did lots of searching, but when we came to Edmonds we knew it was the place. We moved here and have never regretted it.
“I think Edmonds is the most charming coastal city in Washington – perhaps anywhere,” he continued. “But growth will happen. I’d hoped we’d be able to control it ourselves, but the state has seen fit to usurp some of this authority from us.”
He went on to warn that if Edmonds want to maintain its special charm, it will mean the city rolling up its sleeves and working extra hard on the Comprehensive Plan and zoning and building regulations to make sure that the growth occurs in a way we can accept and maintain.
In this regard, Fagerstrom lost no time in contrasting himself with his opponent, Susan Paine, in the Position 6 race.
“I’m running for Position 6 because our council is supposed to be nonpartisan,” he said. “But my opponent seems to have forgotten that and has consistently voted in support of what Olympia did. I’ve watched this and become increasingly frustrated, and this more than anything else moved me to decide that it was time to step up, challenge her for council, and support what I believe is in the best interests of Edmonds.”
Along with charm and quality of life, Fagerstrom also addressed the need to maintain safe streets, a vibrant business community and “wonderful” parks, noting that the retail core has brought out a “be here on Saturday” feel to Edmonds that is attracting people to come here, eat in restaurants and patronize businesses.
Touching on the homelessness issue, he stressed that Edmonds can’t tackle the problem alone, and that it’s necessary to take a regional approach to affordable housing and providing treatment services for drug addiction and mental health that are at the core of the homelessness problem.
“We need to work with our partners in the region to find positive ways to encourage those who need these services to make a genuine commitment to be on the road to recovery,” he said. “We don’t want folks coming here just to take advantage of what we offer without being willing to turn their lives around and get back on the road to being productive citizens.”
In conclusion, he stressed the importance of involvement, cooperation and communication.
“I will listen,” he pledged. “I’ve got good ideas, but there’s lots of other folks out there with good ideas as well. I plan to hit the bricks doorbelling and speaking to business owners to find out what they want, what they think needs to be fixed, and what should be maintained. And I view the council as a team. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but I truly believe we can work cooperatively and respectfully together to achieve the goal of keeping Edmonds the great place to live that it is. Let’s work together to make this the absolute best city we can.”
Fagerstrom’s website is still under development, but will go live within a few days at kevinf4council.com.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel