Susan Paine lists priorities for City Council

Energy should go into Highway 99 safety, not waterfront connector, she says
By Brian Soergel | May 23, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel Susan Paine: “I'm a big believer in supporting small businesses.”

The strongest push for Susan Paine’s candidacy didn’t come from the candidate herself Monday night at Cafe Louvre, where the soft-spoken 57-year-old spoke at her kickoff campaign.

It came from Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas.

“Susan has a tough opponent in this election, who is connected with the old guard of Edmonds,” Fraley-Monillas told those gathered, which included Edmonds District School Board Director Carin Chase, former Edmonds City Councilmember Joan Bloom, former state Sen. Maralyn Chase, and John Reed of Alliance of Citizens for Edmonds (ACE).

“It’s been a challenge to protect our city in the last few years. We need folks who care about Edmonds to stand up for what’s important – not how many apartments we can put in, not how high we can build, not how much of the little space we have left that can be developed. We need folks who care about other people, and that’s Susan.”

Fraley-Monillas has publicly announced her support for candidates Alicia Crank and Laura Johnson, who both attended the kickoff.

“We’ve had many years of pro-development, anti-environment, anti-marsh, anti-fish – I could go on and on,” Fraley-Monillas said. “It’s time to move forward and protect not just our city, but what our city is on.”

Paine is running for the open Position 6 seat Thomas Mesaros is vacating. She faces competition from Diana White, current president of the Edmonds School District board, who last week voted with the board’s majority in approving layoffs to help reduce the Edmonds School District’s $17.7 million deficit.

Paine herself is a former member of the district board, from 2005 to 2011, where she admits her tenure was rewarding, but also difficult as it overlapped a recession.

“We had to close down schools,” she said, “and we had to preserve programs, doing everything we could to preserve teachers’ jobs. The school district needs to pay attention to that.”

A lifelong Puget Sound resident, Paine moved to Edmonds with her family in 2002. She has served on the Edmonds Park Advisory Planning Board, and the Edmonds Tree Board.

She is also a founding member of Sustainable Edmonds, a local nonprofit that provides environmental education to the public and community development projects.

“Many of you know that I've been an environmental advocate through the Edmonds Marsh, and I've worked on some teams together to make sure that we have our most beautiful little gem.”

In addition to preserving green spaces and natural areas in Edmonds, Paine lists affordability and encouraging economic growth as priorities.

“I ran the Port of Edmonds campaign two years ago, and I called it a natural gateway,” Paine said. She lost her commissioner bid to Steve Johnston. “Highway 99 is another gateway, and we could really do a lot of wonderful things there and really feature some of the best assets of Edmonds.”

The candidate also mentioned Five Corners, Westgate, Perrinville, and Firdale Village neighborhoods as areas for more economic development opportunities.

Paine made her stance known on the proposed and controversial Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector, which will create an emergency lane from Sunset Avenue North down to Brackett’s Landing North.

“I would propose that instead of, or before, we put in the waterfront connector, that we put our energies and our findings into Highway 99. I would advocate for improving safety along Highway 99 – it's nearly impossible to have a thriving economic district if you have all sorts of pedestrian and vehicle accidents.”

She ticked off other ideas.

“There are other ways to support economic growth that doesn't change our city's character, and that's to bring more people down into town and onto our sidewalks. And some of the sort of planning ideas like an enlivening the streetscape.”

She also mentioned food trucks and business incubators, the latter which help new and startup companies develop by providing services such as management training and office space.

“Along with that, I'm not a big fan of tearing out existing businesses,” Paine said. “It would take away from the business owners’ income, it would take away a town favorite. And I'm thinking about our bookstore (Spangler’s Book Exchange) that's going to be closing, and what will be coming in its place (that will) have much higher rent. I'm a big believer in supporting small businesses.”

Background

Paine, who calls herself “semi-retired,” completed undergraduate studies at the University of
 Washington, and earned a master’s in public administration from Seattle University. She has worked in the public and nonprofit sectors as a program manager and strategic adviser in various capacities.

“My career was centered on providing access to services and programs for local governments, for over 25 years,” she said. “That included working with juvenile offenders, indigents, and battered women. When you get to see family dynamics in families in crisis, it really brings home, how services can be put into place and even really restart families, which is really wonderful.

“I'm running for City Council because I think we could do better for our struggling neighbors. I'm talking about value, human services, funding for our budget. We need to put in a budget line for human services in our community. I want you to know – we don't have one right now. And that's a gap that needs to be taken care of.”

Switching careers, Paine moved to the regulatory side of municipal government, working for the City of Seattle, examining all aspects of permitting in the right of way.

“That’s very important to understand,” she said, “because that's what's municipalities do. They touch all parts of the right of way because that's public property. If anyone wants to have a cup of coffee and talk permitting, I’m glad to do that. Not very many people are.”

Like most in Edmonds, Paine wants to retain the city’s small-town charm.

“We need to keep our downtown Edmonds at a human scale,” she said. “Our residents and visitors love the look and feel of our downtown. I think it's safe to say that everybody in this room thinks that we have gorgeous waterfront that sparkles in the summer. We have the iconic ferries. Sometimes we see the whales, we have this really cool fishing pier, and we have a very fun spot for our four-legged friends – the dog park.”

Helping others

Paine said Edmonds needs to fund shelter beds for victims of family violence, who are some of the city’s most vulnerable.

“We need to find effective ways to prevent homelessness in our community,” she said.

She also supports funding for drug intervention services.

“We don't have a huge problem, so we can intervene now and make sure that we have a preventative program in place. Our city is in the grip of an imminent crisis, and we can't have that happen to our people. We value people, and we need to have some effective ways to address this surge.

“I'm also not interested in funding anything less than data-driven and evidence-based solutions. You don't need to go chasing down rabbit holes – we already know what works. And that's just a matter of prioritizing. And that comes from the budget.”

 

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