Affordable housing is a big issue in Edmonds council contest

Incumbent Kristiana Johnson faces challengers Alicia Crank and Brian Hartman in the Aug. 3 primary.

Kristiana Johnson (left) and Alicia Crank. (Not pictured: Brian Hartman)

Kristiana Johnson (left) and Alicia Crank. (Not pictured: Brian Hartman)

EDMONDS — Housing affordability, constituent representation, and development amid a reopening economy are among the issues the three candidates for position 1 on the Edmonds City Council are debating ahead of the Aug. 3 primary.

Incumbent Councilwoman Kristiana Johnson is being challenged by Alicia Crank and Brian Hartman for the four-year term.

Johnson, who was appointed in 2012, has won two full terms and is now seeking a third. She ran unsuccessfully for Edmonds mayor in 2019.

Crank is making her third attempt after falling in the 2015 and 2019 general elections. This is Hartman’s first time running for city office. The two candidates with the most votes in the primary will face off in the November general election.

Johnson touted her more than 30 years of experience in areas of transportation, city planning, and growth management as qualifications for re-election. She also has volunteered with the Friends of the Edmonds Library, Edmonds Historical Museum, and Rotary.

“I have done the work and people have watched me,” Johnson said during a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

Johnson said she wants the council to reexamine the value of the Walkable Main Street plan after retail merchants petitioned the mayor to reconsider his decision to close the streets for pedestrian pathways during summer weekends.

“During the pandemic it might have made sense in order for people to safely access the shops,” Johnson said. “But now that the governor has reopened the state, the ones hurting are the retail owners.”

She seeks to protect the city by putting “Edmonds first” and ensuring that existing development does not change the fabric of the community as fears of a “wholesale rezoning of everything” rise among residents.

In a candidate debate hosted by My Edmonds News on July 14, Johnson proposed creating area plans for neighborhoods within Edmonds. Each plan would analyze environment, transportation, public safety, and more. Two neighborhoods could be done per year, with the entire city being completely reviewed within four years, she said.

“We need to protect our single family neighborhoods,” she said. “We can add townhomes in and around our business areas, but we have to look at that carefully.”

Johnson also said the council needs to improve its processes by creating and following rules and procedures. She referenced past issues where the council had “jumped to decisions” leaving community members in the dark.

“I think what’s gotten lost in all of this is that this is a representative form of government,” Johnson said. “We’ve gotten sort of off-kilter the last year and a half, and I feel that it’s my duty as the incumbent to restore some order to the city council.”

For Crank, a lack of transparency is the overarching problem for city leadership.

“There’s been some breakage of trust amongst the city council and those that they’re serving,” Crank said. “I think that it’s time to do things differently and adding newer perspectives will do that.”

Over the past year, she hosted a virtual series called Black in Edmonds that covered topics from accountability and justice to mental health amongst Black community members. She has also served on various boards and commissions in the Edmonds area including the Edmonds Senior Center, Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, and the Edmonds Sister City Commission.

As housing prices and rents rise and more people move into Edmonds, Crank hopes to diversify housing options, with “entry points” for different levels of income through townhomes, apartments, and condominiums.

Crank also emphasizes the importance of mixed-use developments that would combine residences, retail, and other spaces into a beneficial community-friendly area.

Being forced to move out of the community you call home because of a lack of affordable housing can be “devastating,” Crank said, remembering when she moved after rent in the San Francisco Bay Area became too expensive.

“I want to find solutions to help people who are currently here to stay here,” Crank said.

Crank says she will prioritize people-focused conversations by involving those who are most impacted by council decisions.

“If we’re making decisions on housing and zoning, without involving any people, we’re missing the point,” Crank said. “The Edmonds charm isn’t just about the buildings or the water, it’s the people.”

Hartman did not respond to requests for information and an interview.

In a statement in the local voters’ pamphlet, Hartman said he would bring a “fresh look at how business is done both within the City Council and in the community.” He also said the council should represent “all of Edmonds and be free of partisan bickering and undue influence by special interests being put before constituents.”

As of July 20, Crank has raised $23,588 in campaign contributions, about five times the amount of Johnson’s $4,635. Hartman has not reported any contributions or expenditures.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 3. Ballot drop boxes and in-person voting are available until 8 p.m. that same day.

Hannah Sheil: hannah.sheil@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3463. Twitter @thehannahsheil

Kristiana Johnson

Experience: City Council, 2012-present; Community Transit Board, alternate; Snohomish County 911 board, alternate.

Website: reelectkristiana.com

Alicia Crank

Experience: Edmonds planning board, vice chair; Snohomish County Airport Commission, chair; Snohomish County Tomorrow, steering committee; Hazel Miller Foundation, board member.

Website: alicia4edmonds.com

Brian Hartman

Experience: Precinct Committee Officer, 41st District; former vice president of systems at NetZero and senior consultant at Arthur Andersen.

Website: None

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