By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
EDMONDS — Both of the candidates for Position 3 on the Edmonds City Council say they have particular qualities that will serve the city well.
Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, finishing her first term in office, has been through some hardships.
She developed lung cancer in 2010, her first year on the council. She continued to serve on the council after having a lung removed and while undergoing chemotherapy, and eventually recovered.
Fraley-Monillas also has a 21-year-old son with Down syndrome.
“That gives me a unique ability to govern because I’ve been through so much in life,” she said.
Also, Fraley-Monillas lives near Highway 99 in the Lake Ballinger area, she said, providing representation and knowledge of that part of the city not present on the council.
“I really come out of the working class areas of Edmonds,” she said.
Ron Wambolt is a retired vice president for the Fluke Corporation of Everett, which makes electronic medical and calibration equipment. He previously served a term on the Edmonds City Council from 2006-10. He was defeated by Fraley-Monillas and Lora Petso in the 2009 primary election, finishing three votes behind Petso.
Wambolt said the City Council needs someone with a strong financial background.
“In total, it’s absent,” he said.
Limited revenue is the biggest issue in the city, Wambolt said, affecting everything from street repaving to law enforcement to parks maintenance.
“We’ve had no money for street overlays for many years,” he said. “We need to find the money to do those things and we can’t do it by raising people’s property taxes; they’re at the limit.”
The best approach, he said, is to revitalize the city’s economy. One way to do that, he said, is to relax some of the restrictions on building heights — a contentious issue in the city for decades.
He opposes increasing building heights in the central downtown business core, but supports allowing five feet in additional height in other areas — including the edges of downtown — in exchange for concessions from developers, such as adding open space.
“There are people who just don’t want to have anything to do with increasing building heights any amount,” he said.
Fraley-Monillas leans more in that direction — wanting to restrict building heights all through downtown and the waterfront, she said.
Earlier this year, the Port of Edmonds withdrew a plan to rebuild Harbor Square into a residential and commercial center. Had the plan come to a vote, Fraley-Monillas said she would have voted against it.
In one section of the development, the building height would have reached 55 feet, more than five stories — 20 feet higher than the current limit.
“I think that would kill our tourism,” she said.
Wambolt said the height of all the buildings averaged together would have been 45 feet.
“It’s away from the waterfront,” he said. “What people don’t understand is, what the port proposed was purely conceptual. They were trying to put together a plan to attract a developer.”
Wambolt said the development potential of other parts of the city, such as Firdale Village and Highway 99, has gone largely unrealized.
Fraley-Monillas agrees, particularly with regard to Highway 99.
A city regulation for development along the highway requires two floors of commercial space in a building for residential space to be built above — a rule that business owners have told her is a deterrent to investment, she said.
“Nobody’s developed up there because it’s so costly and it’s wasted space,” she said.
Regarding city finances, Fraley-Monillas said the city will have to tackle challenges such as maintaing roads and pipelines a little bit at a time until more development occurs.
The city has applied for grant funds for street repaving, for example, she said.
“We’ve been very conscious about our spending,” she said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; email@example.com.
Meet the candidates
The seven Edmonds City Council members set policy and make law for the city. Terms are four years.
Council members are paid $1,000 per month plus an option for health benefits.
Occupation: Retired from 33-year career with the state Department of Social and Health Services, including five years supervising work programs for developmentally disabled and mentally ill.
Experience: Finishing first term on Edmonds City Council, 2010-present; service on numerous boards, commissions; volunteer work.
Occupation: Retired senior vice president of Fluke Corporation, Everett.
Experience: Four years on Edmonds City Council, 2006 through 2009, including service on several committees; volunteer work.