Mrs. Mayor?

  • Sue Waldburger<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 12:05pm

Dissatisfaction with the present and concern for the future are among the reasons Edmonds-area candidates gave for their decisions to run for elected office this year.

Close-to-home races in which local voters will decide the winners are Edmonds mayor; Edmonds City Council Positions 4, 5, 6 and 7; Port of Edmonds Commissioners for District 2 and at-large Position 4; Woodway Town Council Positions 4 and 5; and Olympic View Water District 1 Commissioner.

Incumbents in the Edmonds council Position 4, both port positions and the water-district spot are uncontested.

Edmonds Mayor

A desire to remain at the helm while Edmonds makes headway in redevelopment of the Harbor Square area and Highway 99 prompted Gary Haakenson to run for a third four-year term.

The 59-year-old incumbent said his 30 years in management with the J.C. Penney Co. and as a founder of the Zumiez/Above the Belt apparel chain helped equip him for job of mayor during “difficult financial times.

“Despite fiscal restraints faced by local government everywhere …. we have moved forward with our budgeting process and have kept the city in award-winning financial shape,” he said.

Accessibility to the public is, according to the mayor, high on his list of priorities. He pointed to his neighborhood round tables, regular columns in the local newspapers and the city’s quarterly newsletter as examples of his commitment to communication with residents.

Haakenson grew up, attended school and chose to rear his family in the Edmonds and Seattle areas. He and his wife, Dolly, have two grown sons and two grandchildren.

After one term on the Edmonds City Council, Mauri Moore called it quits and decided to run for mayor.

Asked about her two declarations to The Enterprise earlier in the year that she would not run for mayor if Haakenson did, Moore said, “I changed my mind.”

The “tipping points” behind her decision were, she said, the urging of people who offered to pay her filing fee and reaching the conclusion the present mayor lacked “good communication skills” with the council.

“I don’t think he was going to change,” said Moore, 56, who has made a name for herself by championing the cause of a park at the former Woodway Elementary site — although a smaller one than she had hoped for — and restraint of free-roaming cats within the city.

A former television-news journalist and producer, Moore said she will bring to the office good communication and leadership skills. Her main concern for the city is, she said, “financial, financial, financial.” She is a supporter of a long-term strategic plan that will lay out where the city is headed and where it needs to make a course correction over the next five-to-eight years.

Moore and her husband, Mark Shuler, have lived in Edmonds and Woodway for 17 years. They have one teenage son.

Even his co-workers at Edmonds City Hall were taken by surprise to learn that assistant city engineer Don Fiene decided to enter the mayoral race.

“I love living in Edmonds but have been disturbed by the focus of too many of our recent council meetings,” wrote Fiene on the home page of his Web site, Valuable time that should have been spent on long-term financial matters, infrastructure needs, public safety and downtown revitalization has been “monopolized by cat-roaming regulations and endless debates over small building-height differences and spending all parks-acquisition funds on an oversized neighborhood park,” he wrote.

The park to which he referred is the 5-1/2-acre one at the old Woodway Elementary site; the council originally had hoped to buy all available 11 acres for park land.

His priorities as mayor would be, he said, city finances, well-planned parks, public safety, an employee-staffing study and the environment.

“As an engineer at Edmonds for the past 15 years … I have demonstrated … the fortitude, tenacity and foresight to solve many of our city’s problems,” Fiene wrote on the home page of his Web site.

Fiene (pronounced “feen”) is 49 and holds degrees in civil engineering and engineering management. He and his wife, Ellie, have a teenage son.

City Council Position No. 4

Running unopposed for her second term on the council is Peggy Pritchard Olson, who is serving as council president this year.

Pritchard Olson, 56, said her future plan is to “focus on economic revitalization and strong financial viability for our city. Over the next few years, if we don’t find new ways to increase our revenues, we will end up with higher taxes and reduced services because our costs continue to rise faster than our income.”

She chairs the South Snohomish Cities Committee and also is on the Community Technology Advisory Committee.

Pritchard Olson is a travel agent who has lived in Edmonds for more than 20 years with her husband, Norm.

City Council Position No. 5

Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, 47, calls herself a working mom who is “welcome news to all those tired of the negative rhetoric surrounding council politics and looking for an alternative to the ‘usual suspects.’”

She said Edmonds needs to “maintain its small town environment while keeping up with the needs of the businesses and development.”

Although this is her first run for the council, she said she has been active in Democratic politics for some time. Fraley-Monillas has worked for the state Department of Social and Health Services for nearly 30 years.

She is the mother of a teenage son with Downs Syndrome and has been active in groups assisting those with developmental disabilities.

Fraley-Monillas has lived in Edmonds for 22 years. Her husband is Domie Monillas.

“At the end of the day, in Position 5, I though I’d be the better alternative,” said D.J. Wilson of his decision to run for the seat vacated by Mauri Moore.

Wilson, 31, has lived in Edmonds eight years. He and his wife, Karianna, have an 8-month-old son.

A former instructor at Edmonds Community College, Wilson runs Wilson Strategic Communications, a public affairs consulting firm. His educational background is in political science and international relations.

Wilson’s frustration over “talk of building heights and cat leash laws” at the expense of more pressing issues was the push he needed to enter the race. Reconnecting downtown with the waterfront and making use of state money to match local funds for sidewalks are among the issues he would like the council to undertake.

“We also need to promote smart, green development,” he said. “We’re a coastal city. Climate changes will affect coast cities first. We should be a strong transit hub. Why shouldn’t the city of Edmonds be the happiest and cleanest city on Puget Sound?

City Council Position No. 6

Richard Marin, 61, is asking voters to return him to the council for a third term.

Council accomplishments in which he had a hand are, according to Marin, the purchase of Marina Park, helping with completion of the Edmonds Center for the Arts, holding down tax increases and a vote to preserve the charm of downtown while improving its retail climate.

Marin has been involved with the boards of Community Transit, Sound Transit and Snohomish Health District. He is retired from occupations ranging from home-building to serving in the U.S. Navy.

Marin and his wife, Ann, have lived in Edmonds 29 years. They have seven grown children.

Challenging Marin is attorney and community activist Steve Bernheim, 51.

Perhaps best known for motoring through town in his tiny yellow electric car, Bernheim said he decided to run for office because he can offer a “change in direction” for the council he would like to see “friendlier.”

Bernheim, whose law office is within walking distance of his downtown Edmonds home, said these are his main areas of concern: preservation of downtown as a “livable, enticing and attractive village,” trust of government so people “don’t have to show up at council meetings to make sure unacceptable things don’t happen” and developing parks.

He has lived in Edmonds since 2003 with his wife, Susan Bauer.

City Council Position No. 7

Seven times in a press release announcing his intention to try for a third term, incumbent Dave Orvis mentioned “taller buildings.” So it’s no surprise the 39-year-old has made downtown building heights – upon which the council recently decided – an issue in his campaign.

Preservation of the “historic small-town charm of downtown” and improving the “safety and livability” of Edmonds neighborhoods are, he said, his priorities. He pointed out he has voted against four-story buildings in the Five Corners business area and doesn’t believe in “dumping stuff (development unwanted elsewhere) on Highway 99 or Five Corners.”

Orvis, who holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, is a software engineer in Bellevue. He and his wife, Martha, have one son.

Challenging Orvis is Strom Peterson, owner of Resident Cheesemonger in downtown Edmonds.

“Edmonds is the second-largest city in Snohomish County, but City Council actions have not reflected the needs and wants of a thriving, multi-faceted community,” said Peterson, who finished third in a three-way 2005 council race that returned Michael Plunkett to office.

“This election is not about building heights,” he said, adding that the council already has decided upon height limits downtown. “The city needs leadership with a broader vision for all of Edmonds.”

Regional transportation issues and making Edmonds a leader in energy-conservation measures, he said, will be among his priorities as a councilman.

Peterson and his wife, Maria, have lived in Edmonds for six years. He has served as president of the Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association and is a board member of the Greater Edmonds Chamber of Commerce.

Port of Edmonds Commission

Shoo-ins for return trips to the board of commissioners of the port look to be Marianne Burkhart for the District 2 spot and Jim Orvis in the at-large Position 4 seat.

Both unopposed incumbents are seeking their second term on the board. As former members of the now-defunct Washington Tea Party, they rode into office in 2003 on a wave of public concern about the siting of the Brightwater sewage-treatment plant in Edmonds. Both strongly opposed the project.

Olympic View Water District

No opponent stepped up to challenge Lora Petso, commissioner in the Position 1 post. Petso is a former member of the Edmonds City Council.

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