Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling likes to joke that it’s “always 82 and sunny in Edmonds.” It’s boosterism accepted with a smile because optimism isn’t misplaced in a city of about 42,000 that benefits from a thriving downtown, the natural beauty of its shoreline, an active community and a city council that generally shares agreement on issues of the environment, development, transportation and public safety.
Three of its seven city council seats are up for election this year, but only two attracted challengers for incumbent council members. Mike Nelson, elected to complete an unfinished term in 2015 for Position 2, is running uncontested for his first full four-year term on the council.
Position 1: Incumbent Kristiana Johnson is challenged by Josh Thompson.
Johnson, who has lived in Edmonds since 1954, has been on the council since 2012, and was selected by her peers to serve as council president in 2016. Her committee assignments including public safety and personnel; finance; and parks, planning and public works.
Johnson also has served on the city’s planning board, its citizen’s advisory commission, economic development commission, its historic preservation commission, the mayor’s climate protection committee, long-range financial planning committee and with Snohomish County Tomorrow.
Johnson has master’s degrees in city and regional planning and transportation planning and has had a 30-year career working with communities on land use, environmental and transportation issues. That experience has informed her work with the council, as she lead an effort to set buffers and setbacks for the Edmonds Marsh, the city’s zero-waste policy, and the transportation corridor study for Highway 104 that connects I-5 and Highway 99 with downtown and the state ferry terminal.
Thompson, a resident for 16 years, has worked as a legislative aide for Snohomish County Council member Stephanie Wright for five years. Previously he worked as the general manager of a Seattle catering business. Thompson has a master’s degree in policy studies.
Thompson also serves on the mayor’s climate committee, has volunteered with Seattle schools, the Children’s Campaign Fund and events at Edmonds Community College and has been a citizen participant on the city’s strategic action plan and its Highway 99 sub-area plan.
Thompson has said his focus on the council would be on economic development, particularly for Highway 99 and Westgate, protecting critical areas in the face of continued growth, public safety and issues related to homelessness, mental illness and addiction.
On various policy issues, Thompson and Johnson appear to be in general agreement. Both, for example are supportive of the council’s policy this year, proposed by Councilmember Nelson, to fully shift Edmonds’ use of energy to clean, renewable sources by 2025. While many see that as an aspirational goal, both said they were committed to working with the Snohomish County Public Utility District to achieve it.
The choice between two strong candidates comes down to weighing experience against potential. Johnson has proved herself as effective on the council. But Thompson, because of his current relationships with county officials, other local officials and state lawmakers — several of whom have endorsed him — could add to Edmonds’ voice at the local level and with the region’s legislators.
Edmonds residents would be well served by either, but Thompson’s relationships throughout the county speak to his potential to seek good policy and governance for Edmonds and the city council.
Position 3: Incumbent Andrienne Fraley-Monillas is challenged by Alvin Rutledge.
Rutledge, who has served as a precinct committee officer and has run previously for positions on the Edmonds City Council and the Legislature, has lived in Edmonds since 1986. A retired small business owner, Rutledge has been active in the community as a volunteer and a frequent participant at city council meetings, giving him a good background in the issues facing Edmonds.
Fraley-Monillas, a resident of Lake Ballinger neighborhood for more than 30 years, is seeking her third term on the city council. She is retired, following a 33-year career with the state Department of Social and Health Services.
Fraley-Monillas currently serves as chairwoman of the board for Snohomish Health District and has also served on the board of the Edmonds Senior Center, the executive committee of the county transportation coalition and the board of Down Syndrome Community and has volunteered with other community groups including the Edmonds Homeless Coalition.
She has used her professional and community experience to guide her work on the council, pushing for a police patrols that include a social worker to help connect those on the street with needed services to address substance abuse and homelessness problems. As chairwoman of the health district board, she’s been involved in its work to put a greater emphasis on addressing the opioid crisis countywide.
Rutledge and Fraley-Monillas don’t appear to have major policy differences. Like Johnson and Thompson, both are committed to the city’s clean-energy pledge and are opposed to allowing an increase of building heights in view corridors.
While Rutledge’s consistent efforts to serve his city deserve respect, Fraley-Monillas has shown herself to be effective at directing policy initiatives, working with others on the council and representing Edmonds and all county residents through her work with the health district and with community organizations. Voters can return her to the council with confidence.