Building heights, growth top issues for Edmonds council candidates

EDMONDS — Strom Peterson, seeking his second term on the Edmonds City Council, is challenged by perennial candidate Alvin Rutledge.

Peterson, 45, is the owner of the Cheesemonger’s Table, a downtown Edmonds shop and eatery. He was appointed in early 2009 and was elected to a four-year term later that year. Rutledge, 73, has been a consistent presence at city meetings for at least two decades.

Peterson’s website lists economic development as his top priority. He expresses support for initiatives such as the Downtown Edmonds Business Improvement District, an organization into which merchants pay membership fees.

What Peterson says is his open-minded approach on building heights in the Edmonds “bowl” has been interpreted by others as favoring taller buildings.

Rutledge is among them, contending that Peterson supported a now-aborted Port of Edmonds plan for a five-story, commercial-residential complex at Harbor Square near the waterfront.

Peterson responded via email on Wednesday during a visit to Peru.

“I have always been in favor of allowing the public process to take place,” he wrote.

“There were positives and negatives to the port’s initial concept, and I think the council could have found a way to create a vision for that area that would have included needed improvements to the marsh, flooding and economic development.”

The port withdrew its plan in the face of opposition from some council members.

Regarding building heights in general, Peterson wrote, “I have always been supportive of having open and earnest conversation on how we, as a community, can create opportunities that balance the need for economic development with the needs of open space, environmental enhancements and aesthetic improvements, whether it’s at Five Corners, Westgate, Highway 99, or downtown.”

Rutledge said he’s concerned about city finances and doesn’t think the council is doing enough to ensure future solvency. Beginning in 2009, Edmonds filled a $5.2 million budget gap with layoffs, eliminating its fire department and contracting out for fire service, instituting a hiring freeze and offering buyouts to employees.

“I’m against raising taxes,” Rutledge said.

Also, he said, “the city needs to give financial help for people who cannot afford to pay their utility bills.”

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

Meet the candidates

The seven Edmonds City Council members set policy and make law for the city.

Council members are paid $1,000 per month plus an option for health benefits.

Strom Peterson

Age: 45

Occupation: Owner, Cheesemonger’s Table, Edmonds

Experience: Five years on the Edmonds City Council, two years as council president.

Website: votestrom.com

Alvin Rutledge

Age: 73

Occupation: Retired

Experience: Volunteered for several organizations, including the Log Cabin Committee and a 2001 committee to annex the Edmonds Library into the Sno-Isle Library District.

Website: None

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