EDMONDS — When it comes to the Edmonds City Council, women rule.
The Nov. 5 election brought three new women to the council and re-elected another.
Former School Board member Susan Paine, former government contracting officer Vivian Olson and small business owner Laura Johnson each won four-year terms on the council. Councilwoman Diane Buckshnis was re-elected for a third four-year term. They join council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Councilwoman Kristiana Johnson, who were not up for re-election. Women now hold six of seven council seats.
And with Councilman Mike Nelson heading for the mayor’s office, city leaders need to appoint someone to carry out the rest of his term, which ends in 2021.
If the council appoints a woman, it’d mark the first time in the city’s history that women held all seven council seats.
City officials are saying it could be a first for the county, as well.
“This is going to be a game-changer for Edmonds in the long run,” Fraley-Monillas said Tuesday. “They all have a lot to offer the city of Edmonds.”
In 1919, Langley on Whidbey Island became the first city in the state to elect an all-female legislative body.
When Fraley-Monillas was first elected to the Edmonds council in 2009, she was the only woman.
“Women really are starting to be empowered to run for office and take charge,” she said. “There were so many years where you’d never see a woman running for fire commissioner.”
The council president said while it’d be neat to have an all-female City Council, she’s focused on appointing the best person for the vacant seat.
Olson said voters should reach out to current and future city leaders to give their input on who should take over for Nelson.
Those aren’t the only changes at City Hall, though.
After a sometimes contentious mayoral race, Nelson defeated his colleague, Neil Tibbott, for the chance to replace retiring Mayor Dave Earling with 53% of the vote, as of Thursday.
The bulk of Nelson’s support came along the Highway 99 corridor on the east side of town.
“I really want to focus on revitalizing that section of our community, I made no secret of that,” Nelson said. “But when you’re the mayor, you really do have to represent the entire city.”
As he prepares for his move to the mayor’s office, Nelson said he wants to include as many people in government as possible.
A transition team “is probably not done at a city with a smaller size like ours, but I think it’s important,” he said.
Nelson plans on meeting with council members early next year to go over shared priorities.
Last week, Tibbott conceded in an email to supporters.
On Wednesday, he said he wants to spend the remainder of his term focused on the 2020 budget and hasn’t decided what he’ll do after.
“I’ll have plenty of time to think about it in January,” he said.
In addition to a change in mayor, three newcomers are joining the City Council.
While many candidates stressed working together to find solutions, endorsements and campaign donations showed two opposing sides had formed on the city’s ballot.
Mayor Earling, former Mayor Gary Haakenson and council members Dave Teitzel and Tom Mesaros all backed Tibbott for mayor and one crop of council candidates, while Fraley-Monillas, Johnson and local Democrats supported Nelson and the other council hopefuls.
But voters didn’t pick one slate over the other.
Fraley-Monillas and the Democrats endorsed Paine and Johnson, while Olson was in the Tibbott camp.
Buckshnis, the city’s sole incumbent, stayed out of the mayoral debate, declining to endorse any city candidates.
She won re-election against attorney Jenna Nand, winning all Edmonds precincts except one, where she and Nand tied.
Buckshnis will continue to focus on financial oversight, the environment, housing and tourism, she said in a statement after the first returns were announced.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in these areas, but there is still much to do,” she said.
Tibbott, along with supporters Olson, Monroe and White, saw success in the northern part of town, primarily the Edmonds Bowl, although Olson’s support was more widely spread.
Olson said she was grateful that voters supported her message of “finding solutions together.”
Paine said she was pleased her message resonated with voters.
In a statement Tuesday, Johnson thanked her family and said the election has brought a new chapter for the city.
Results for the general election will be certified Nov. 26.