LYNNWOOD — Ed dos Remedios, a 62-year-old immigrant of Portuguese descent, knows that Lynnwood is a rich mix of different generations, immigrants, ethnic communities and religions.
The city of Lynnwood can become even more vibrant and prosperous if it creates places and reasons for people to gather, he said.
The City Center, a 20-year plan to create a high-density urban downtown near the 196th Street exit of Interstate 5, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give the city new life and a new identity, he said.
“We are going into an exciting era,” he said. “I hope the citizens get involved in that. It is their future and their children’s future. Whatever happens, it is not going to be business as usual in Lynnwood.”
The City Center is one of the reasons dos Remedios sought a two-year appointment on the Lynnwood City Council, he explained. After interviewing 14 applicants, the council picked dos Remedios in a unanimous vote on Jan. 17.
Councilman Don Gough left the seat halfway through his four-year term because he won the race for mayor. Gough, who took office on Jan. 1, pulled ahead of Mayor Mike McKinnon, who served a four-year term, by about 60 percent of the vote.
He acknowledged that two years is not a lot of time to serve as a councilman. He intends to learn as much as possible and make his mark so he can run for election in 2007.
As a lifelong businessman, dos Remedios said he has a lot to offer the council.
He knows how to negotiate, listen to others, decipher complex information and find clarity, he said. With his financial expertise, he can help the council understand the city’s finances and draft the 2007-2008 budget later this year.
“Numbers by themselves do not mean anything,” he said “It is what you do with the money that matters. How do you create benefits for the city?”
He started studying accounting in Hong Kong, where he grew up. Seeking better opportunities, dos Remedios and his family immigrated to the United States when he was 20 years old. He served in the U.S. Army and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of Washington.
With his wife, Marlies, he raised four grown children: Ricardo, a musician; Michelle, a teacher; Mark, a firefighter; and Patrick, a Sheriff’s deputy.
Previously, dos Remedios worked at Seattle-based Regence BlueShield as a general accounting supervisor for one year, vice president and chief financial officer of Seattle-based Carpet Exchange for 10 years, vice president of finance of Seattle’s Johnson International for one year and vice president of Port Angeles-based Merrill &Ring for 10 years.
“My goal was to retire at 55. I did. I got bored,” he said.
Today, dos Remedios is a part-time accountant at St. Thomas More Parish and School of Lynnwood and chair of the city’s Civil Service Commission. He also served on the city’s diversity task force, which is where he became more familiar with the city’s diverse communities.
“Lynnwood was a lot more diverse than I thought,” he said.
The challenge is that so many residents live in isolation, he said. The city would benefit from the energy of its citizens if there are more places to gather or ways to participate, he said. He cited the annual multi-cultural fair, which is expected to return in April, as an example.
“When all is said and done, Lynnwood is still a bedroom community,” he said. “We need an identity and we need it badly. People go to the mall. They do not come to Lynnwood.
“If you do not have a place to go, why go? You have to give (people) a reason to get off that recliner or off that computer for heaven’s sake.”
He is eager to create more civic places, including a new community center, senior center and youth center. The city center is an ideal opportunity to create more attractive, active public spaces as well as much-needed jobs and housing, he said. But it must be more than a group of office buildings, he said.
“We have such a great location,” he said. “Why couldn’t this be a destination instead of a pass-through city?”