Councilwoman receives national recognition for excellence

By Laura Daniali | Sep 24, 2015

When Adrienne Fraley-Monillas was elected to the Edmonds City Council six years ago, she was the only woman seated on the council.

Now, she sits among four other councilwomen on the dias and was recently recognized as a 2015 Elected Woman of Excellence by the National Foundation for Women Legislators.

The NFWL created the award to identify women “who have worked tirelessly, often breaking down barriers and overcoming obstacles that once seemed insurmountable, to serve their communities,” NFWL Director Allison Jensen said.

“When I was first on the City Council,” Fraley-Monillas said, “I was the only woman, and there were no women department directors.” But, she said, her “claim to fame” is bringing “light to the living and working conditions along Highway 99.”

Fraley-Monillas grew up in Richmond Beach, and has lived in her home in the Lake Ballinger neighborhood along Hwy. 99 for 30 years. She retired from the Department of Health and Social Services and a life-long career in social services in 2010.

“That’s how I spent my career,” she said, “trying to help others who needed help.”

When she retired, Fraley-Monillas felt she owed it to the community to try to “make my world a better place.” A sense of duty is what led her to run for a seat on the council.

In addition to her role as councilmember and current president, Fraley-Monillas has been involved with the County Disabilities Board, the Public Health District, the Law and Justice Commission, Snohomish County Transportation Choices executive committee and the Edmonds Senior Center board of directors – to name a few.

NFWL Director Jensen said Fraley-Monillas has used a “collaborative approach to giving input on how to provide the best services to people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, public health, homelessness, seniors, children, low income housing, education and alternative transportation for those housebound individuals” through her participation on numerous county boards and commissions.

But not everyone sees it that way, and Fraley-Monillas admits some have criticized her for involvement at the county level.

She said some Edmonds citizens have questioned her about her county-level roles and feel that it is “not the place for a city councilmember” – stating that city business should be the priority.

For Fraley-Monillas, issues that affect the health of people in the county play an integral role in the Edmonds community as well, and the boards and commissions try to use collaborative approaches to solve complex issues.

“I see them as all interrelated,” she said. “To have a healthy community, we have to take on the hard issues, like drug abuse, homelessness, sex trafficking, mental illness and the elderly.

“It all ties in together.”

Mayor Dave Earling said Fraley-Monillas “works with an emphasis on what is best for the community,” and Fraley-Monillas said she wants to broaden the focus of the council, as it takes “more than just looking at Sunset and Westgate.

“All in all, we need to have the conversation and talk about those who need our services more,” she said.

While Hwy. 99 has received some attention, Fraley-Monillas said it’s a long way off from being a “wonderful” place to live and work, and she will continue to advocate for moving this to the forefront of council priorities.

Receiving the NFWL medal, which hangs from a red, white and blue ribbon and is engraved with “Woman of Excellence,” gives Fraley-Monillas “the assurance that the way I’ve been going is the right direction.”

She was one of 19 women legislators from across the U.S. to be honored at a NFWL ceremony on Sept. 14 in Oklahoma City, and she was the only one from Washington state.

The “Celebration of Excellent Women” ceremony was part of the NFWL conference held each year for over 5,000 members, including all elected women in the U.S. who serve at the state, county and municipal levels.

“We [electeds] take so much negative all the time that it is really nice to have attention paid to the good things we do,” Fraley-Monillas said.

She referred to a recent council conflict where a current councilmember was blocked from remotely participating in a meeting and vote due to fear of a “tie” vote on a controversial issue.

Fraley-Monillas said the council cannot continue in that manner, and “that just can’t go on – that kind of stepping on democracy cannot go on.”

Fraley-Monillas is not up for reelection this November, but she is hoping to see “a positive change in the council” after the ballots are tallied on Nov. 3. She said it’s been a “tough” year, and although she doesn’t know all of the council candidates well, the post-election council “has to be better than it is today.”

The Beacon will begin publishing Q&As with the council candidates beginning on Thursday, Oct. 1. -Ed.






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