Nelson, Tibbott answer questions from Edmonds business community

Revisiting the connector; environmental programs most proud of
By Brian Soergel | Aug 29, 2019

The first of several planned forums between Edmonds’ two mayoral candidates included mostly boilerplate intros and outros from Mike Nelson and Neil Tibbott, but there were a few newsworthy nuggets at the Chamber of Commerce business community event Aug. 15 at the Edmonds Yacht Club.

Remember the Edmonds Waterfront Connector, which councilmembers voted down in its most recent iteration after a 14-month process that included four in-person and online public meetings involving over 750 community members?

Audience members, who paid to attend the forum, provided written questions to candidates, and two questions inevitably came around to the connector.

Tibbott, whose “no” was the swing vote on the connector’s demise and assured his audience that the connector as envisioned was “dead,” said the connector’s original concept morphed into something much bigger than originally drawn out.

He then mentioned that he was unaware the connector would infringe on the marine sanctuary of the unnamed beach next to Brackett’s Landing North.

Tibbott went on to say that the marine sanctuary was not mentioned in the original point. “I don’t know why the original task force did not pick that up,” he said. But local beaches have always been marine sanctuaries, as stated on the City of Edmonds website: “City of Edmonds beaches are marine sanctuaries. No fishing, clamming, crabbing, or collection of shells, rocks, driftwood, or other marine life is allowed.”

An early announcement on the connector stated that it would connect Sunset Avenue to the parking lot at Brackett’s Landing North. Last summer, however, the City stated that “currently, this area is used for a variety of activities.

The Edmonds to Kingston ferry terminal, pedestrian paths on Sunset Ave., Brackett’s Landing North and Brackett’s Landing South, the BNSF Railway, and a marine sanctuary and dive park are near the project site. These various uses will be considered when designing and constructing the Connector.”

Nelson, a member of the original connector task force, commented that “whatever documents were passed, it clearly states that it was a marine sanctuary.”

Nelson, who originally approved the idea of the connector, told of the moment he had a change of heart when “some of the councilmembers, including my opponent, voted to cut our fire services.” Nelson was the lone councilmember to vote against the cuts and, with firefighters looking on, walked out of the council meeting.

Tibbott did mention a solution he thought would be viable as a way to provide access to the west side of the railroad tracks when blocked by a train: a pedestrian overpass that would also be able to handle lightweight emergency vehicles.

Nelson, in July, said that he would be submitting a waterfront protection plan to City Council shortly to “ … help guide our next steps in evaluating more affordable solutions to provide reliable emergency access that protects our community and prevents harm to our waterfront.”

Nelson and Tibbott agreed on some questions asked, including support for gay rights – Tibbott mentioned in a forum a month ago that he supported LGBTQ marriage, but as an ordained minister would not marry his children if they were gay – and support for homeless/transitional housing on the grounds of Edmonds Lutheran Church.

The church has partnered with Housing Hope to bring Blokable – or prefabricated, stacked housing – to property the church owns. Tibbott reminded the audience that the site is zoned for multifamily housing.

When asked what environmental programs they are most proud of, Tibbott mentioned his involvement in the improvement of Meadowdale Beach, which is just outside Edmonds and is overseen by Snohomish County.

He also spoke of his work to remove the creosote from Haines Wharf pier, which is in city limits.

Nelson said that, as President Trump has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, it’s up to states and local government to take the lead in protecting the environment.

“I am most proud of that work I did to put forward a climate resolution, not only in actionable steps we should take to do an assessment to figure out where our emissions are coming from, (but also to) put a plan in place to reduce those emissions. And also to put forward renewable energy goals, including 100% renewable energy for City buildings as well as for our whole city-wide.

“I'm proud to announce that this year we passed our 100% renewable City buildings and we are a leader in the state, the first city in the state of Washington to do that.”

Statements

In their opening and closing statements, Nelson was succinct while Tibbott expanded on his top priorities. “We need someone to move Edmonds forward,” Nelson said. “We need new leadership. We need a mayor who’s going to embrace our values, and work every day to keep our city safe, healthy and livable.”

Tibbott listed three commitments, including preserving Edmonds’ character, focusing on public safety, and ensuring financial management.

“I want to make sure we know where revenues are coming from,” Tibbott said, adding that he wanted to keep community members engaged well before getting into the budgeting process.

“One of the ways I will conduct myself as mayor is that I will be accessible. I’ll return emails, phone calls, and my office will do the same.”

To watch the full video of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce mayoral event at the Edmonds Yacht Club, go to bit.ly/325nnwq.

 

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