Public Disclosure Commission dismisses case regarding Nelson 2023 budget mailer

The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission said that after investigating the matter, it has dismissed complaints against the City of Edmonds and former Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson regarding a city budget mailer sent to residents two-and-a-half weeks prior to the general election.

Edmonds residents Mark Bucklin and Tina Drennan both filed complaints last fall, accusing Nelson and the city of violating state laws that prohibit elected officials from using public resources for their campaigns. At the time of the budget mailer, Nelson was running for re-election as mayor. He lost to Mike Rosen in the November 2023 election.

Responding to the allegations at the time they were filed, the city said the mailer was part of its efforts to reach more residents through printed publications, and the timing was intentional to send during council budget deliberations.

In a Jan. 29 letter explaining its decision, the PDC said that “based on our findings staff has decided that, in this instance, the distribution of the proposed budget and budget message, in the form of a mailer and that included the image and messaging of the mayor, during the election cycle when the mayor was running for re-election, does not amount to a violation that calls for further investigation.”

But because the related state law — RCW 35A.33.055 — “is silent about if and how the mayor would distribute budget-related messaging to the public, PDC staff reminds Mike Nelson to exercise caution during election years in which he is a candidate. To avoid concerns, budget-related communications would be preferably sent to the public after the election in those years,” the letter said.

Bucklin’s complaint also accused the mayor of violating state law that prohibits elected officials from appearing in public services announcements. However, that PDC said that complaint “is not applicable because the proposed budget and budget message do not meet all the criteria outlined in Washington State law to fall into the category of ‘public service announcement.’”

— By Teresa Wippel

  1. Hey Mark Bucklin and Tina Drennan, thanks for wasting everyone’s money and time on your immature bs. Now we are stuck with does absolutely nothing Rosen.

    1. Well by this time in Nelson’s administration he has tried to take away citizens 2nd amendment rights. So just maybe not jumping the gun “do nothing” Rosen is the right approach.

      1. Yeah, we see every day how well your “it’s Everyone’s right to have a gun” policies are working. So just maybe a few common sense laws might be the better approach.

        1. I didn’t say everyone has the right or that I am against reasonable laws. The fact remains Nelson tried to turn law abiding gun owners into criminals. As I remember the acting police chief had to come out the next day and shoot down the mayor’s edict.

      2. Jim,
        I’m compelled to respond at this point. Please give Mayor Rosen a chance. He’s been on the job for less than 90 days. At the end of his first year, it will become clear whether he is the mayor he promised to be.

        1. Just like any other new employee maybe he needs a trainee wage and a 90-day review. Very few in this community would say that the Comp plan process has gone well

        2. Dave I have been patient I know he is just getting his feet wet and he was left a mess..

        3. It’s pretty precious how you’d ask Rosen to be given a chance when that certainly was not the case four years ago. Definitely a very do as I say not as I do situation, eh? Only you and your crew get to do “Drop the Mike?”
          Anyway, it’s not like he didn’t come in knowing exactly what his marching orders were. We’ve all seen the PDC and the ‘Blue Ribbon Committee’. It’s pretty clear who’s running the City.

  2. I agree with Dave that it is totally unfair to accuse Rosen of doing nothing. He has shut down the hate portal nonsense program and he has brought in expert (outside staff) input advice on the financial problems we face. My personnel take is that he is perhaps staying too close to the Nelson agenda and staff for his and our own good but he got the majority vote and deserves a fair chance to right the ship as he sees fit. I’m anxious to hear his state of the city speech on the financial front today.

  3. I certainly do not blame M. Rosen for what we are going through now – these were all works in progress – it is sort of like a new CEO taking over (when Nadella took over, how many and how long were the changes at Microsoft before it started skyrocketing again).

    With that being said, this comp plan and the numbers have gotten a lot of necessary attention. The Mayor is not going to change the course overnight but I would be interested in having the planning department explain, in laymen’s terms, where the numbers come from.

  4. I will mention that a tangible difference has been in the direct response of staff members directly to community members, which has improved significantly and the tone of said responses is positive and in the spirit of action and in the very least, understanding. I have to imagine in some way, shape, or form, that is indicative of the climate in city operations. Change at the top is hard, and it may be unreasonable for a number of reasons to do big shakeups in such a short amount of time. You have to weigh long term benefit versus immediate impact, and sometimes those scales don’t quite balance. I would hope people would give him a chance, particularly as others have noted, he inherited a sinking ship so-to-speak.

  5. I think some members of the mayor’s management staff (not to be confused with any of the lower level civil service and union protected line staff) are a little out of control and think they have more power and influence than they actually have. I read a recent comment from a planning board member to the effect that the mayor’s staff can never be terminated without cause so his hands are tied completely. I do not think that is true and I think it is a form of an excuse to promote the status quo at time when change might be more appropriate. The bright spot is that Mayor Rosen’s term of office is young and he has lots of time to wise up to any intimidation he might be feeling from his staff directors who absolutely answer directly to him based on state municipal law.

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