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Election endorsements; question on Premera | Letters to the Editor


October 3, 2019

Former electeds agree: Mike Nelson not best choice for mayor

As former elected mayors and councilmembers of Edmonds, we are concerned about the information surrounding one of the candidates for mayor. We were proud to have served in office and wish to have our elected officials respected as they carry out their prescribed duties.

As we receive our ballots for this 2019 election, we ask that our citizens seriously research and evaluate the candidates to assure that each one satisfies the tests for trustworthiness, integrity, professional attributes, and commitment to office.

We have done this research.

The League of Women Voters published a 2018 pamphlet on "How to Pick a Candidate – A Step-By-Step Guide to Choosing Who to Vote For." This guide has led us to reject the candidacy of Mike Nelson for mayor.

Persons submitting this letter are not anti-union, but Nelson's connections create a conflict of interest when, as mayor, he would be the chief negotiator of all labor contracts for city employees.

An extensive investigation has prompted our decision because of the following:

- Nelson was appointed to the city council in 2015, and did not disclose that as the executive director of a statewide union he was also the state-registered lobbyist for that union;

- He openly admits being delinquent in paying federal income taxes on time and was fined accordingly, which blemishes his ability to properly administer the city's financial activity;

- His union was fined $250,000 by the attorney general for under-the-table campaign contributions while he was in charge;

- He has not disclosed that his spouse is employed as a lawyer for the firm representing a sector of Edmonds employees; and

- Mike Nelson's commitment to our community is lacking when records from the secretary of state indicate that he failed to vote in two of our Edmonds School District ballot measures (2012 and 2014) or in the 2012 primary election, where important state officials and judges were being determined.

Citizens in Edmonds deserve the best person for mayor. Anything less is not acceptable. We recommend that citizens vote for Neil Tibbott to fill this role.

Jack Bevan (council), 1964-1968

Phil Clement (council), 1974-1979

Laura Hall (council), 1981-1991; (mayor), 1992-1996

Michael Hall (council), 1992-1996

Gary Haakenson (council), 1996-2000; (mayor), 2000-2010

Mike Herb (council), 1975-1980

Richard L. Marin (council), 2000-2007

Tom Miller (council), 1997-2002

Larry Naughten (council), 1978-1984; (mayor), 1984-1992

Gary Nelson (council), 1967-1975

Dave Orvis (council), 2000-2010

Ron Wambolt (council), 2006-2009

Jack Wilson (council), 1984-1994

Jack Winters (council), 1974-1978

Mike Nelson responds: Here we go again ... Since the beginning of this campaign, my opponent's supporters have attacked my work supporting working people. Those who care for our elderly, treat our child's injury, drive our kid's school bus, keep our parks clean and beautiful, keep our roads drivable, make our sidewalks walkable, protect our community from criminals, and perform emergency life-saving measures on our loved ones.

I think most of us agree we should be standing up for these folks, not tearing them down.

And going after my wife? Are we now attacking my family as well? Is this what Edmonds elections are coming to?

They want to distract from the real issues here in Edmonds, and my track record as a councilmember advocating for greater transparency and budget accountability, increased spending on public safety, greater environmental protection, and meaningful reductions in the threats of gun violence.

While I could spend time listing all of my endorsements (like Sen. Maria Cantwell, state Rep. Strom Peterson, or County Prosecutor Adam Cornell), I understand that what voters really want to know is, What are we going to do for our city?

As Mayor, I will work every day to keep our city safe, healthy, and livable. I will work to create new small-business incentives, robust neighborhood engagement, new open space protections and park expansions, revitalize Highway 99, reduce utility taxes for our seniors and disabled residents, expand walkability, increase pedestrian safety, and have a permanent location for a year-round outdoor market.

This attack is more about politics than it is about the needs and priorities of Edmonds.

As we approach Halloween, I hope my opponent's backers will think about giving back to the community by handing out sweets to our children rather than trying to scare Edmonds voters away.

Premera abandoning people in its own county

Premera Blue Cross recently announced that it would no longer offer individual health plans in Snohomish County in 2020.

Their explanation for not offering coverage: "We work closely with doctors and hospitals across the state to improve the care our customers get and keep costs as low as possible."

How ironic that a company headquartered in Snohomish County is abandoning the people of its own county.

Elizabeth Miakinin


Steve Kipp, Premera Blue Cross vice president of corporate communications, responds:

As the only health plan headquartered in Washington, Premera remains committed to serving its Snohomish County customers who purchase their health insurance on the individual market.

We offer individual market health plans in Snohomish County and 32 other counties in Washington through LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, which is a wholly owned affiliate of Premera. In fact, we offer plans on the individual market in more counties than any other health plan in Washington.

Our LifeWise health plans are focused on meeting the unique needs of individual market customers. Those customers tell us they shop for health plans based primarily on cost. Although members do have in-network access to some hospital systems, the plans feature access to statewide community-based providers who are focused on the whole health of the patient.

For example, in addition to primary care, these providers offer our members access to a variety of services such as pediatric, family dental, vision, behavioral health counseling, and onsite pharmacy without needing a referral.

Finally, I should point out that Premera is a major contributor to the community through its Premera Social Impact program.

Vivian Olson: Unique skill of finding solutions

I am writing to you today in support of an amazing candidate for the Edmonds City Council, Vivian Olson. I met Vivian at Seaview Park 17 years ago. I was pregnant at the time and she had a 2-year-old and a newborn. It was the start of a wonderful friendship and years of debating the world's problems.

While Vivian and I did not always agree on the state of affairs, or feel very like-minded, we seemed to always find a "solution." It is a quality I often wish I saw in today's lawmakers.

This is why I believe Edmonds is lucky to have Vivian as a candidate for city council.

Vivian has a unique skill of finding solutions. She is wonderful at truly hearing another perspective, being authentically respectful, and problem solving with tenacity. She doesn't give up and always strives to find meaningful solutions.

I love Edmonds, and it was so hard to leave such an amazing community. That is why I am thrilled to hear the community has the best possible candidate for Council Position 5 in Vivian.

Our world needs more leaders and lawmakers like Vivian Olson.

Nicole Thomas

Boulder, Colorado

Show your courage – vote

I am guessing most people reading this letter agree with me that Edmonds is a very special place. I would also argue that those of us who live in Edmonds exhibit characteristics that make us special as well.

We participate in our community, we show up, and we help each other out, as illustrated by the 481 nonprofit and 501 (c3) organizations that exist in Edmonds.

We also have strong opinions about almost everything, and we are not afraid to share them. However, when we disagree, we demonstrate to others that you can disagree without being disagreeable. We can also take pride in that we support our opinions with our votes. Across Snohomish County, only 24% of registered voters actually voted in the recent primary. However, here in Edmonds, 40% of us did.

I share the deep concerns I hear from others that nationally there is significant, and growing, pressure to replace our personal opinions, decision making, and values and replace them with those of our political parties. We are encouraged to become a "we" or a "them."

I hear both parties accusing each other of choosing party over people.

Nationally, elected officials and the media are making it about Republican vs. Democrat, liberal vs. conservative, the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent, rural vs. urban, etc. When a group starts talking politics, it only takes a few words before the hostility and cynicism escalate and derail any opportunity for civility. The danger is we become too angry to listen, to learn, or to collaborate on solutions.

I applaud the many people in Edmonds who refuse to buy into that. It takes courage to decide for yourself and to stand up for what you know to be right against the pressures of others.

That is one of the most beautiful and powerful things about our election process. It ensures that you, and only you, know what choice you made and why.

In this letter I am not advocating for ANY candidate. Rather, I am applauding the courage in all of us to say, this is what I support and who I support, regardless of my party, or the party of my friends.

We all are exceptionally lucky to even be able to vote. There are countries where their citizens are not allowed to vote. In this country, there was a time when only rich white men could vote. People died to create this country and give us a voice. Even more have died to make that voice accessible to all.

In a very short time you will be receiving your ballots for the general election. You will be asked to select our next mayor, four council members, Port commissioners, school board members, and judges.

Each vote does make a difference. It has been that way since the beginning. In 1776, just one vote decided that Americans would speak English rather than German. In 1850, just one vote made California a part of the United States. In 1960, just three votes per precinct made John F. Kennedy president instead of Richard Nixon.

It has been said that it is easy to stand with the crowd, but takes real courage to stand alone. Soon you will have choices to make weighing your views on individuals, their values, their qualifications, against the pressures of party and the influence of friends.

Your vote is about you and only you, and who you want to be making decisions about Edmonds. It took the courage of others to give that to you; please have the courage to use it as your own.

Mike Rosen


Neil Tibbott: A listener rather than a talker

I am writing in support of candidate Neil Tibbott for mayor of Edmonds. I have known and worked with Neil for almost 10 years at this point. We have served over four years together on the Edmonds Planning Board, as far back as 2011.

I have subsequently maintained frequent interface with Neil during his work on our City Council and as a citizen at large.

I find him to be an avid listener rather than a talker. During my work with him, he is both open and flexible in his approach toward solving any problem at hand. He works at finding answers and solutions that maximize benefit to the most people concerned, rather than zeroing in on initially convenient or expedient answers to a given challenge.

I have also had experience – again on the Edmonds Planning Board, in working with Neil's opponent, Mike Nelson. My research within public/published meeting minutes confirm that Nelson served on the board for a grand total of only four months, during which he attended only six meetings.

I did not experience the same level of contributive participation nor commitment by Mike during this period.

Additionally, I worked with Nelson during the first phase of the "Advisory Task Force on At-Grade Railroad Crossings Alternatives Analysis," with myself as a volunteer citizen-at-large during which Mike served as co-chair.

I also served and worked on the second phase of this task force of which Nelson was not a part. Again, I found neither his attendance nor contributory degree of input very meaningful.

In addition, I still find Nelson's subsequent council action towards "halting" furtherance of the railroad-crossing task force recommendations both surprising and disappointing. After all, he did co-sign the phase one task force recommendations memo to the mayor stating in part: "The Edmonds Street location is recommended over similar emergency vehicle access alternatives for reasons of cost, anticipated use, and superior access for emergency response."

His subsequent publicly expressed lack of conviction in this matter concerns me when I think of potential deliberative challenges to be faced as mayor of Edmonds. Further, I believe his more recent activities on council to be primarily towards his own political convenience.

In summary, I strongly support mayoral candidate Neil Tibbott over Mike Nelson and would urge like support from fellow citizen voters.

P.B. Lovell, P.E.



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