Edmonds City Council election begins again
The result of the 2013 Edmonds City Council election has just been certified but, in a sense, the election is about to begin again. Frank Yamamoto has submitted his resignation from Council Position 6, effective Dec. 31.
The council will select Yamamoto's successor. The two visions of Edmonds will be on trial again in the process. Will future Edmonds look more like Kirkland or Carmel? Will Edmonds be a bedroom community with four-, five-, or six-story condominiums and apartments, or will Edmonds be a center for creative arts with a lower height limit for new buildings?
The Carmelites are currently in the majority on the Council and have the opportunity to enlarge their majority. Yamamoto is reckoned with the Kirklanders, and they will certainly try to hold Yamamoto's seat on the council.
From my perspective, it appears the Carmelites are likely to win this round. But if they do win, what does that say for the future of Edmonds?
The Kirklanders have said, with some justification, that Edmonds needs more revenue. Bigger buildings will pay more property tax, and greater population density (Edmonds is already one of the most densely populated municipalities in Washington) will translate into more people spending more money in Edmonds businesses.
Edmonds has a vibrant arts community. There are writers, artists, sculptors, actors, singers and musicians. But so far, that hasn't translated into much in the way of revenue.
The problem is that an arts community must be a destination to become a financial success. Edmonds severely lacks overnight accommodations. And there is no incentive to build more until the available rooms are regularly overbooked. Efforts by the City and the Chamber to publicize Edmonds as a destination have been perfectly horrible.
Branding the product is virtually non-existent. Far more people recognize Leavenworth as a destination than recognize Edmonds. If Edmonds is to be an arts center like Carmel, there must be a central theme to marketing.
Edmonds already has the Arts Festival, Write on the Sound, the Art Studio Tour, Edmonds in Bloom, Wade James and Phoenix theaters, and the Center for the Arts. Those events and venues must be encouraged and enhanced.
Additional events along those lines would be desirable. Other current Edmonds events should be re-examined to see if they fit the theme. The Car Show should be upgraded to a Concours. The Waterfront Festival should be themed with classic boats or sail or something. The Taste should be looked upon with serious questions as to whether it fits the theme.
The selection of a new councilmember will help decide Edmonds' future. It may look like Carmel, but that vision must find a way to pay for itself, or Edmonds will inevitably wind up looking like Kirkland.