Lobbyists and advocates: Working for Edmonds | Mayor's Corner

By Dave Earling | Sep 16, 2017

At the national level, we hear a great deal about lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Some resulting publicity is not always favorable. Yet, I must say, whether in Washington or Olympia, lobbyists play a critical and vital role for state, county, and city governments as well as nonprofit, business, industry and special interest groups.

Lobbyists are essential to the success of any endeavor at most every level of government. More to the point though, it is important for us to work with lobbyists we know and who have credibility at the state and federal level.

We are fortunate in Edmonds to have excellent people at both levels. In Olympia, Jennifer Ziegler works on our behalf. I first met Jennifer when she was working for the State Department of Transportation, and later when she was a policy staffer for Gov. Gregoire.

Jennifer has now worked for us for two years. She keeps us up to date, daily if needed, on important issues to Edmonds, the region and the state. She also works closely with other lobbyists and the Association of Washington Cities (AWC). She has developed strong relationships with our local legislators, key chairs of the various committees and the governor's office.

If there are hearings on important issues for Edmonds, she lets us know if we need to testify, or meet with legislators or key staff. Several of our staff members are called upon during the session to give testimony on behalf of both the city and professional organizations. I make several trips to Olympia a year to meet with legislators and key staff, as well as to give testimony.

Jennifer has played a crucial role in securing the state funding for the Waterfront Connector Project and, if the state passes the capital budget, her work will have helped us obtain funding for waterfront improvements, a new roof on the Frances Anderson Center and funding for the new Senior Center/Edmonds Waterfront Center.

Lastly, Jennifer comes to Edmonds in the fall to assist the council and me in developing our legislative agenda for the next session. She gives an end-of-session legislative report at a City Council meeting and, on occasion, attends Snohomish County Cities meetings with other lobbyists for reports.

At the Washington, D.C., level we work with Tim Lovain of Crossroads Strategies, who I have known for several years. I worked with Tim for many years with Sound Transit. He knows our state very well, having received his law degree from the University of Washington, as well as representing other clients throughout the region, such as the Port of Everett and the Washington State Department of Transportation. Interestingly, he is on the Alexandria, Virginia, City Council, so he understands the needs of local government, too.

When we put together the Waterfront Connector Project, we knew we would need strong representation at the federal and state levels to assemble the $30 million needed for the project. Having Jennifer in Olympia was a major beginning; however, we also needed quality and thorough representation in D.C., and Tim fills that role. Along with that, Tim also searches for grants and notifies us of major shifts in policy that could impact any of our city's needs.

Again, having someone like Tim working for us is critical. He has been working for us about a year and a half and knows all our Washington State federal delegation and their staff very well. When we were in D.C. last December, he set up key meetings with staff and our state federal delegation. He, too, keeps us advised on important emerging issues and with the current daily changing flow in D.C.

We hear from him often!

Tim recently flew out and spent the day with us in Edmonds so he could get a firsthand look at the many projects we are working on and determine how he could best help us move these projects forward – like Civic Field, our two waterfront projects and Highway 99. In addition, he spoke at a City Council meeting.

As an aside, when city directors Phil Williams, Patrick Doherty and I were in D.C. last year, as we were walking with Tim through one of the busy tunnels connecting Congressional staff buildings, Patrick leaned to me and said, "Everyone knows him!"



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