A house divided in Edmonds | Guest View

By Jenna Nand | Jun 24, 2019
Jenna Nand

As someone who was raised in Edmonds, I have always thought of our little town by the water as pretty close to perfect. Edmonds is beautiful, clean, the people are kind and welcoming, and I honestly wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

But I’m worried that the toxicity of the national political circus is infecting our small town. The culture of respect that was a hallmark of the Edmonds I grew up in seems to be eroding.

Like many Edmonds residents, I’m concerned about the recent high-profile resignations among city staff. While some turnover is to be expected, the resignations of Human Resources Director Mary Ann Hardie and Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite are in such close proximity to each other that it’s impossible not to notice a pattern emerging.

Before the era of Trump, it was not considered appropriate for politicians to use their public platforms to “punch down” on people who couldn’t defend themselves in front of the same audience. That was just common decency.

Yet, at the May 7 City Council meeting, Hardie was accused by a councilmember of trying to unethically give herself a pay raise.

There was nothing to suggest that the HR director had done any such thing. But Hardie did not have the ability to directly respond to this public denigration of her character. Not surprisingly, Hardie’s resignation was announced by the mayor at the next city council meeting.

Just last week, Hite – another highly respected city employee – also announced her resignation, citing a “breakdown in Edmonds right now.” Hite also wrote in her resignation letter that the political environment seems “different” in Edmonds.

I agree with her.

I hope that City employees don’t feel targeted or scapegoated during political debates about local issues. Between Hite and Hardie’s back-to-back resignations, we are losing decades of institutional knowledge over the course of a few weeks.

With the upcoming change in administration at City Hall and high level of turnover on City Council, we’ll need the broad experience and deep expertise of our city employees to keep Edmonds running smoothly in 2020.

There has to be a culture of respect between the political sphere and the city staff. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” And a City staff whose morale is adversely affected by politics cannot perform their jobs properly.

I was raised by my parents, both public high school teachers for 45 years, to always respect the civil servants who keep our government running with less pay and less perks than their counterparts in the private sector.

Being a leader, political or otherwise, means setting the tone for your organization. Whether I’m privileged to join the next crop of elected leaders in our town or not, I hope that a culture of respect is restored between the politicians and the rest of city government.

Some things about Edmonds should never change, and our reputation for being a kind, welcoming town is one of them.

Jenna Nand is a candidate for Edmonds City Council.


Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.