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Could Edmonds see 1st all-female council? | Editor's Note


Last updated 3/22/2019 at Noon

After a quiet municipal election in 2018, the 2019 election in Edmonds is shaping up to be a doozy of a race, one that could lead to a first: an all-female City Council.

Here’s how it could happen:

There are seven City Council positions, and women already hold three – Kristiana Johnson, Position 1; Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Position 3; and Diane Buckshnis, Position 4.

Dave Teitzel holds Position 5 through the end of the year, but has announced he will not seek re-election. Two candidates have filed so far: Vivian Olson and Alicia Crank.

Olson is a long-time volunteer with the Edmonds School District and has held board positions with Friends of the Edmonds Library, is co-chair of the Edmonds Citizens’ Tree Board and recently joined the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation Board.

And Alicia Crank has served on several boards and commissions in and around the city, including the Edmonds Senior Center and Edmonds Sister City Commission. She is now serving her third year on the Edmonds Planning Board and as vice chair of the Snohomish County (Paine Field) Airport Commission, and was re-instituted in early 2018.

Thomas Mesaros is councilmember for Position 6. He, too, will not seek re-election. Filing to fill his four-year seat is Diana White, a founding member of the Edmonds Diversity Commission.

White will not be seeking re-appointment when her three-year Diversity Commission term expires at the end of the year. She also does not intend to seek re-election to her seat on the Edmonds School District Board of Directors when her current term expires in November.

OK, so here is where it starts getting interesting.

Mike Nelson holds Position 2, and Neil Tibbott Position 7. Both have stated their intention to run for mayor, as current Mayor Dave Earling will not seek re-election.

According to Garth Fell, elections manager for Snohomish County, state law allows an individual to file for only one office, with the exception of precinct committee office and other special-case offices.

“You do not have to give up your current seat to run for office,” Fell said. “For example, Gov. Inslee can run for president while serving as governor. He does not have to step down.”

Nelson won a new four-year term in 2017. He would have to resign his council seat to take office as mayor if he wins the vote. There would then be a vacancy in his council position, which would be temporarily filled by appointment. Possibly a woman?

If Nelson loses the mayoral campaign, he will retain his council seat and can finish his term. His seat will not be on the ballot this year.

Tibbott, meanwhile, has previously filed to retain his council seat – which is up for grabs this year – and would have faced a race with opponent Laura Johnson. But as Tibbott can only run for one seat, that leaves the door open for Johnson, a local community organizer and longtime volunteer who is chair of the Historic Preservation Commission.

If Tibbott wins the mayoral campaign, he then would, of course, lead the city. But if he loses to Nelson, or anyone else, he will only serve until the end of his term on council, which is the end of this year.

So, there it is. The path to an all-female Edmonds City Council.

It’s certainly time, and it wouldn’t be a surprise. Edmonds has three female directors under the seven overseen by Mayor Earling: Mary Ann Hardie, Human Resources; Carrie Hite, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services; and Shane Hope, Development Services.

In addition, Edmonds’ judicial branch of government is overseen by Judge Linda Coburn.

And women are well-represented in Washington state and Edmonds voting districts. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are the state’s longtime U.S. senators, and Pramila Jayapal represents the 7th Congressional District – which includes Edmonds – in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self serves the state’s 21st Legislative District, and Reps. Cindy Ryu and newcomer Lauren Davis serve the 32nd.

Edmonds’ new female representation on City Council would mirror an encouraging trend across the country. There were 36 women in the 2019 freshman class of U.S. Congress, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

But, overall, women are still underrepresented in Congress, with 102 in the 435-member House of Representatives and 23 in the 100-member Senate.

Who knows? Maybe, soon, Edmonds will have its fourth female mayor and first in more than 20 years, following Barbara Fahey (1996-99), Laura Hall (1992-95) and its first female mayor, Alice Kerr (1925-27).


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