An open letter to the Edmonds City Council | Guest View

Carl Zapora and Mike Rosen
Jul 19, 2019

We are writing to you as Edmonds residents and/or business owners motivated in part by the recent resignations of two director-level staff and our observations of recent council activities.

Edmonds is a rare and special jewel. Each person who lives here does so by choice. We all have options, but we all chose Edmonds. It isn’t just the stellar beauty or access to unparalleled recreation that keeps us here. It is the spirit of the place.

And that spirit is generated by us, the residents. We are people who show up for the Fourth of July parade a day early. We stand in long lines for coffee, as much for the coffee as for the conversation that takes place in the line. We go to the weekend market, enjoy performances at ECA, and in the park.

We smile as one, surrounded by thousands of children in Halloween costumes, and we sing loudly, and off-key, when we light a holiday tree. But, most of all, we are friendly. We have been named the friendliest city so many times they have stopped giving out the award.

Our City Council is the keeper of that spirit, and we thank you for your service, your passion, your long hours and your committing to an oath to faithfully and impartially perform and discharge the duties of your office.

It is not an easy thing that you do.

There are many threats to the spirit of Edmonds; some are internal, and some are external. We don’t want these threats to result in tribalism, which can result in disrespect and an us-versus-them competition for power. Working together using constructive problem solving will reveal innovative solutions and mutual gain.

Governing isn’t easy. We are going to disagree. We are going to be passionate. We are going to fight for what we believe in. But we have big problems to solve and need to call on our shared spirit to solve them.

Our shared spirit allows us to collaborate, to improve our environment, to improve our community and our security. Science tells us it also will extend our lives and the quality of our lives.

We have observed the recent departure of two key high-level city staff members. We recognize that there are many reasons for staff to depart. But both have expressed frustration with our city governance.

We have a very well run city. Many of us have lived in other parts of the country and have witnessed poorly run cities, lack of citizen engagement (or caring), and outright corruption. How wonderful to live here, where "doing the right thing," professionalism, and courtesy are the norm.

Everyone going into City Hall is greeted with professionalism, kindness and respect.

We recognize that our city is governed by our City Council, but it is run by our City staff under the leadership of our department heads and mayor. They deserve the utmost of respect, courtesy, and support from our City Council and community.

Two department heads resigning in part for reasons of frustration are two too many. Please join us in supporting our city staff and thanking them for the great jobs they do every day.

Rather than address the past, we want to visualize a desired future. How do we create a work environment where staff can do work that is the envy of cities across the globe? How do we create a work environment so desirable that when those cities try to steal them away from us, they can’t even turn their heads? How do we create a work environment where we never need to advertise for staff because there is a line out the door of the most qualified people in the country who can’t wait to work for our city?

We ask that you be the torchbearers of this spirit. We implore you to model behavior that will help us all rise to be our best selves. We ask that you create an employment culture that unleashes the human potential. We ask that you demonstrate that people who disagree with you are not your enemy, but rather a potential path to a better solution.

All residents of Edmonds have a social contract with each other, and with you as our elected representatives. Our spirit has a special sauce, and it includes respect, kindness, dignity and integrity.

We are in it together. We created this special jewel together. We can only protect it and improve it, together.

In addition to Zapora and Rosen, this letter was signed by Randy and Brooke Baker, Barry Crane, Nancy Ekrem, Cheryl Foster, Darrol Haug, Sharon Howard, Steve and Wendy Johnston, Jack Loos, Phil Lovell, Mike Meeks, Bob Rinehart, and Steve Shelton.

 

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