EDMONDS — City Councilmen Mike Nelson and Neil Tibbott snagged the top spots Tuesday in the race for mayor, a contest that’s sparked much interest throughout the community.
The two men seem likely to face-off in November after Nelson garnered 43.6 percent and Tibbott collected 29.1 percent
Councilwoman Kristiana Johnson was a distant third with 15.8 percent followed by city planner Brad Shipley with 11.4 percent.
On the council since 2015, Nelson is the executive director of the Service Employees International Union Washington State Council.
“I’m very humbled and appreciative of the voters of Edmonds right now,” Nelson said Tuesday night. “And I am looking forward to a spirited discussion about the future of Edmonds in the general election.”
Tibbott, who is finishing up his first City Council term, runs a human resource consulting firm.
“We’re all very excited,” Tibbott said from his election night party. “We’ve been working real hard. Everyone here is really encouraged and looking forward to getting our message out for the general election.”
Johnson, who has been on the council since 2012, worked as a transportation planner for the city of Bellevue and King County. Shipley was hired by the city as a planner in 2014.
Whoever is the next mayor will be looked to for leadership on how to move forward with a waterfront connector. The City Council spent months considering a plan to construct a one-lane elevated road linking Sunset Avenue to Brackett’s Landing North, and wound up killing the idea earlier this year.
Nelson and Tibbott backed the decision to put down the connector plan while Johnson wanted to keep the idea alive as they pursued alternatives. Shipley has said he agreed with the council’s decision.
Nelson also authored the city’s safe storage gun law which has been challenged in court by three residents backed by the National Rifle Association. Tibbott missed the gun storage law vote when it was approved in 2018. He has said he’s unsure about it and is waiting to see how a similar state law pans out before taking a side.
All candidates said they want to prioritize growth along Highway 99 and continue work on a subarea plan, which would continue the transformation of Highway 99 in Shoreline through Edmonds, between 244th Street SW and 212th Street SW.
Policy issues weren’t all that was discussed in the campaign.
In July, Nelson acknowledged not having paid his federal taxes in full for six years as a result of financial challenges encountered by his family. A $52,000 tax lien issued by the Internal Revenue Service was paid off in early in 2018, he said.
Tibbott and Johnson said the situation raised concerns about his financial management abilities.
As of Tuesday morning, a quarter of the city’s registered voters had returned their ballots, the highest mark of any community in the county.
The eventual winner will succeed Mayor Dave Earling who decided not to seek a third term. After serving eight years as mayor and another 12 as a city councilmember, Earling said he is looking for a new challenge.
The position pays $125,935 plus benefits. Edmonds is Snohomish County’s third largest city with a population of 42,170.