Council Tables Olson’s Proposal for Resolutions and Agrees on Qualifications for Student Representative Position
Edmonds City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to table a proposal from council chairwoman Vivian Olson, which she said was intended to ensure that future council resolutions are tied to city business and politically. non-partisan.
Olson’s proposal came six weeks after the board unanimously passed a resolution condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that struck down Roe v. Wade. The resolution urged Congress to pass legislation guaranteeing the right to abortion nationwide and to create a policy that Edmonds police should not cooperate with out-of-state law enforcement to prosecute those who come here for abortion or other reproductive health services.
Residents who testified at the July 6 council meeting on the abortion resolution had mixed views. Some said the city council didn’t have to take a position on what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled; others said they were glad the council chose to show leadership on the subject.
The proposal Olson presented on Tuesday night included stated goals of providing elected officials with guidelines for responding to requests for resolutions, with an emphasis on items that dealt with city business. He also said resolutions would not be issued in areas “expressing an opinion on matters of political or ideological controversy” or on matters “generally identified or known as supported by a political party and/or opposed by a political party.” “.
Finally, it also gave the president of the municipal council “and his delegate” the power to process requests for resolutions.
Presenting the proposal Tuesday night, Olson said she hoped it would be a starting point for the council’s dialogue on the topic. Instead, it drew swift and scathing criticism from Council members Susan Paine and Laura Johnson.
“It’s not a small democracy,” Paine said. “It’s authoritarianism or totalitarianism because it’s wanting to control what is broadcast to the public.” Olson’s stated desire to keep council resolutions non-partisan “is a red herring,” said Paine, who then accused the council chairman of wanting to “control all messaging by controlling the frame of what’s important.” in our community.”
Johnson said the proposal “gives unchecked power to interpret and enforce guidelines and inhibits the council’s ability to respond to the needs and wants of Edmonds residents and limits the voice of the community.” She also said that “it is not possible to legislate truly in a non-partisan way, given the differing views and interpretations and/or motives for using the label partisan versus non-partisan. “. Among the issues identified in an online search that people define as partisan, she added, are “freedom and reproductive rights, but also climate change, housing insecurity, people’s rights LBGTQ, racism, gender equality and more, all of which some have called too controversial and therefore partisan.”
Olson responded that his purpose in raising the issue was to have the council decide whether it wanted to stick to matters specifically related to city government business. “Do we want to focus on how we spend our time as city council? she asked. “I have the impression that we are dealing with subjects that fall under the jurisdiction of other levels of government. If we focus on things that are only within the purview of our level of government, we can do our job better.
Paine responded that spending time on the proposed resolution on Tuesday night also delayed discussions of city-related issues. She then suggested that such a topic would be better discussed at a future council retreat.
Council member Neil Tibbott said he would appreciate a better process for developing council resolutions that involves more citizens. But he agreed the topic should be part of a future board retreat program, then moved a motion to table Olson’s proposal, which passed unanimously.
In other business Tuesday night, the council also spent a lot of time debating the language in a proposed new city code chapter that outlines qualifications for the council’s student representative. Among the questions were whether the position should be limited to those in high school or if college students should also be eligible. Council member Johnson advocated for the inclusion of students, noting that in the past the council had struggled to recruit many candidates for the position. Ultimately, the board decided the position would be open to a high school or college student – living in Edmonds – aged 21 or younger at the time of application.
– Repealed a city ordinance related to grocers hazard pay, which council approved in April 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
– Heard a second quarter financial report from Director of Administrative Services Dave Turley, who noted that the city’s end fund balance for 2021 was $15.9 million, indicating that Edmonds has “rather well recovered” from the pandemic. You can see the full presentation here.
– Received a proclamation regarding Puget Sound Month Begins Here, which is in September.
— Discussed, but did not take action, proposed code changes related to the City Attorney. These will be brought back to council next week for possible action.
– Defer to a future meeting an update to the city’s comprehensive emergency management plan and related code change related to disaster preparedness, emergency coordination and civil emergencies.
–– By Teresa Wippel