Top (L-R): Mike Nelson, Brad Shipley. Bottom (L-R): Diane Buckshnis, Mike Rosen.

Top (L-R): Mike Nelson, Brad Shipley. Bottom (L-R): Diane Buckshnis, Mike Rosen.

With primary approaching, 3 challengers aim to oust Edmonds mayor

Mike Nelson is seeking reelection against three challengers: Diane Buckshnis, Brad Shipley and Mike Rosen.

EDMONDS — Four candidates are vying for Edmonds mayor, but with the primary election ballots mailed out this week, that field will soon be cut in half.

Incumbent Mike Nelson, 47, has held office for one term and will be facing off against three challengers: City Council member Diane Buckshnis, former city planner Brad Shipley and former communications firm CEO Mike Rosen. The Aug. 1 primary will eliminate two contenders before November’s election.

As far as campaign financing goes, Rosen far outpaces his competitors, with quadruple the war chest of the next closest candidate, according to state Public Disclosure Commission filings. He has $65,273 to Nelson’s $14,792. Buckshnis closely trails Nelson, while Shipley has raised $4,842.

“I think the number of people who have donated to me sends a message of how strongly people feel that there should be a change,” Rosen said.

Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson

Nelson

The past four years have been tumultuous for Edmonds.

In March, the city’s contracted prosecutors terminated their 20-year partnership with the city, specifically citing differences with Nelson. The mayor has been criticized for hiring Sherman Pruitt as police chief, who had past allegations of domestic violence that came to light later. Nelson also defended a number of decisions in the wake of COVID, such as allowing outdoor “streateries,” which one local restaurant owner compared to “shanty towns.”

Looking forward, Nelson, 47, said he remains committed to a more equitable and walkable Edmonds.

Nelson has championed improvements along the Highway 99 corridor that aim to reduce crashes by 37%, and he recently announced a $100,000 deposit on a 10-acre parcel to create more public space.

He also wants to improve pedestrian safety after quadrupling the current budget for the issue. He plans to propose a new multi-use trail to connect parks and schools.

Nelson added he remains “dedicated to a fully functional Edmonds Marsh that protects salmon and filters water.”

Diane Buckshnis

Diane Buckshnis

Buckshnis

Buckshnis, 66, has served on the Edmonds City Council for 13 years and considers herself the council’s fiscal watchdog. She worked in finance for decades before joining the council. And while on the council, Buckshnis said she challenged an audit report, saving the city $5 million.

“I’ll just be very straight: My 13 years on council — working under four administrations — I believe makes me the most qualified to step in tomorrow and make change,” Buckshnis said. “And change does need to happen.”

Buckshnis said she has three top priorities: protecting neighborhoods, public safety and the environment. Specifically, she said two watersheds — Perrinville and Shell Creek — are “failing terribly” and need help. As for protecting neighborhoods, she wants to maintain “neighborhood charm.”

“It’s a wonderful little town and the citizens are concerned now, because of all these housing bills. They’re concerned about the density,” Buckshnis said. “They’re concerned that suddenly they’re going to have to live next door to a four-plex and all that.”

During her tenure, Buckshnis has been publicly criticized for “bullying,” leading Nelson to initiate an anti-bullying system. When asked about the bullying allegations in March, Buckshnis said anyone claiming that should “look in the mirror.”

Mike Rosen

Mike Rosen

Rosen

Rosen, 68, is the retired CEO of a communications and marketing firm, PRR, where he oversaw 100 employees. In that position, he managed multi-million dollar budgets and collaborated with other government and private agencies. Previously, Rosen worked on the city’s planning commission. Now, he serves on the Edmonds Center for the Arts Board.

Rosen is also backed by a lengthy list of endorsements, including five previous Edmonds mayors, Lynnwood’s current mayor and former county Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell.

His top issue is to unify Edmonds “during this divisive time.” Safety, health and housing are also priorities, but Rosen said unification and clear communication need to be reestablished before the city can effectively move forward. He thinks he’s uniquely qualified to rebuild trust in city government.

Rosen explained that he wants to take a step back to reexamine big problems facing the city, and then, using his experience as CEO, gather “the best minds” in the community to tackle issues in harmony. Considering factors like cultural differences, language barriers and broken trust are key in creating a more unified Edmonds, both within city government and with the public, he said.

“There’s nothing we’re dealing with in Edmonds that somebody somewhere hasn’t dealt with on a much grander scale,” Rosen said. “I want to make sure we have a robust and meaningful public engagement process.”

Brad Shipley

Brad Shipley

Shipley

Shipley, 45, served as the city’s senior planner but stepped down in May to focus on the mayoral race. He had worked in the city planner’s office since 2010. This is his second run for mayor, after losing in the primary in 2019.

Shipley said he’s passionate about improving transportation, infrastructure and housing. He said he “eschews partisan politics.” He simply wants to design a better Edmonds.

“Housing is an essential human requirement, and it evolves according to individual circumstances,” Shipley said. “What may be suitable for a fresh graduate differs from what a married couple with children needs, which again varies from what a senior living on a fixed income requires. My aim is to expand housing options while ensuring Edmonds remains human scale.”

Shipley is open to more multi-family housing.

Shipley said “our system predominantly favors automobiles,” thus disregarding those under 16, those without the money to own a car or those who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Solutions could include better public transportation and safe bike lanes, to make Edmonds less car-reliant. He said the growing city faces “mounting inequalities,” and through his experience in urban development, he said he is committed to moving the city forward “in a pragmatic way.”

Primary ballots were mailed this week. They are due Aug. 1.

Kayla J. Dunn: 425-339-3449; kayla.dunn@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @KaylaJ_Dunn.

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