Big decisions for Edmonds council

  • Tue Jun 29th, 2010 7:23pm

By Mina Williams Enterprise editor

EDMONDS — Edmonds City Council members have some of their most important work laid out for them over the course of the next few weeks.

On June 29, council members interviewed 17 applicants to fill Council Position 7, vacated by Dave Orvis. Council will seat the member on July 6.

With applications to fill the remainder of Mayor Gary Haakenson’s term due July 7, Council is poised to interview hopefuls July 13. Seating of the mayor is expected July 20.

Between Haakenson’s departure, July 2, and the selection of the mayor, Council President Steve Bernheim will serve as interim mayor.

Both terms expire Dec. 31, 2011.

Meanwhile, at the July 20 council meeting, a public hearing will move the debate along about shifting the form of city government to a council-city manager system.

Council will also select a levy committee from 10 applicants who have applied to explore a levy option to ease the city’s financial woes.

Laying the groundwork for these pivotal decisions, Bernheim asked council members to each present their vision statements for the city during the June 22 council meeting.

“You have to know what is and what is not your business,” Councilman Strom Peterson said at that meeting. “As a business owner I could wax poetic about Edmonds, but as a council member I have 40,000 diverse citizens to represent. It is my job to ground vision in truth. We have governmental limitations and economic realities. Our visions have to be attainable.”

Peterson cited the environment, economic development, public health and safety, and the arts as initiatives that play key roles in the future of Edmonds.

Councilman Michael Plunkett, who left the meeting due to illness, told The Enterprise that he supports the existing council policy to preserve the charm and character of the city.

“I support those things that bring people to Edmonds (to visit),” he said. “Enhancing what we are is economic development. Taller buildings does not equal development.”

Bernheim said energy efficiency is a top priority and identified low-impact tourist activities as initiatives he will champion.

“We need to balance the quality of life with growth,” Bernheim said.

Councilwoman Diane Buckshnis echoed Bernheim’s economic vision for the city and put ecotourism in the spotlight.

“We need to take advantage of the rail system, clean up the marsh and turn the city into a bird watching capital,” she said.

She suggested that Highway 99 zoning could sustain the redevelopment Edmonds needs for a sustainable future, with offices, condominiums and restaurants positioned along that area.

Councilman D.J. Wilson explored the current assets Edmonds could leverage — the waterfront, historic downtown area and fiber optic cable along with health care — to promote tourism and serve residents.

Councilwoman Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said that she was unprepared with her vision statement.