Residents reign on citizens’ commission

By Laura Daniali | May 22, 2014

In a 4-3 vote, the Edmonds City Council approved a code change on Tuesday that will allow only Edmonds residents to serve on the Citizens Economic Development Commission.

The issue of whether commissions should consist only of Edmonds residents was raised when Councilmember Lora Petso appointed Seattle resident Michael Plunkett to the Economic Development Commission.

Public comments were made during previous council meetings, with speakers asking why this was allowed to happen, given the name of the commission and the original intent when it was formed.

The commission has been in existence for more than five years, and up to this point, has included only residents of Edmonds.

Several councilmembers were on the original 60-person board that formed the commission, and said the intent was for Edmonds residents to serve on the commission.

Councilmember Strom Peterson was a member of the original board, and said it is fairly obvious what the legislative intent was.

“There was an oversight in the language,” Peterson said.

He suggested the council fix the issue, and have a broader discussion about other boards and commissions at a later date.

This was a point of contention, with Councilmember Joan Bloom voicing concerns about not having a unified policy for all boards and commissions.

Bloom said isolating the Economic Development Commission did not make sense, and it seemed like an attempt to block Petso’s appointment.

Petso put forth an amendment to omit the retroactive removal of committee members from the code. The motion was defeated.

“My issue is that it has nothing to do with the applicant who applied,” Council President Diane Buckshnis said. “It is strictly a policy issue.”

Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas was concerned about Edmonds’ business owners not being represented on the commission.

She said there are business owners who keep shop in Edmonds, but do not live here.

“Business owners drive the economy,” Fraley-Monillas said. “I find it atrocious that someone might not be able to vote at this table.

She said it sends a message to business owners that “we’ll take your money, but we don’t want your voice at this table.”

Peterson said the commission is a citizens’ commission, not a business owners’ commission, and there are other organizations available to the business community.

After a lengthy discussion, Buckshnis and councilmembers Kristiana Johnson, Thomas Mesaros and Peterson voted in favor of prohibiting the future appointment of non-Edmonds residents, and retroactively removing those already appointed.

Buckshnis said a loophole was found, and they took steps to correct it.

The correction means only those with a physical address in Edmonds will be allowed to serve on the commission.

The new code will take effect on May 26, and Plunkett will lose his seat on the commission.

 

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