- About Us
Edelman, Nelson run for Council Position 4 in Black Diamond
Managing YarrowBay’s master planned developments, bringing in new business and communicating better with residents are among the common themes in the race for Position No. 4 on the Black Diamond City Council.
Patrick Nelson is running against Janie Edelman, the incumbent who was appointed in March to complete Joe May’s term.
Both candidates want to find common ground in the community with regard to the growth proposed by YarrowBay’s master planned developments and help all residents understand the MPDs. Both Nelson and Edelman want to, if elected, help bring more businesses to the city. Both candidates moved to Black Diamond from other parts of King County.
Edelman was born in Rapid City, S.D. Her family moved to the area in 1951 when she was a newborn after her father got at job with The Boeing Co. She grew up in Bellevue where she attended Sacred Heart Church for grade school and Holy Names Academy for high school. She attended Bellevue Community College and Yakima Community College before returning to Seattle in 1974.
Initially Edelman planned to become a court reporter and attended a program at Green River Community College, but, she was working full time as a secretary at Boeing. She decided to commit to her job at Boeing shortly after she started dating Bob Edelman, the man she would later marry. She spent 19 years at Boeing, working her way up from a secretarial position to serving as a manger with a few dozen people under her supervision on projects that were part of the company’s military contract work.
“It was a great career,” Edelman said. “Then in 1992, I was in Georgia at the time on a business trip and my husband called me, he said, ‘I quit today.’ He decided to retire.”
At that point, Edelman decided to retire, and the couple who have been married 31 years, traveled the world. They moved to a house at the end of a dead-end street on Lake Sawyer from Issaquah in July 1989. Lake Sawyer was annexed into Black Diamond in 1997.
“Black Diamond is a wonderful little city,” Edelman said. “It’s a nice city. It’s a nice community.”
She chose to run for City Council after the state environmental protection act report for the MPDs — known as The Villages and Lawson Hills — began to get attention in Black Diamond.
“It just blew up from there,” Edelman said. “I testified at the development agreement hearings … I went to lots of City Council meetings, work studies. As a result of being involved in all of the emotion of the MPDs and then Joe May resigned … Bob and I started looking at it, we asked, ‘Who is going to fill that vacancy who believes the same thing we do and manage the process?’ The MPDs and the development agreements were approved by previous city councils, I don’t agree with it, but it’s done.”
Her husband, Bob, helped form Toward Responsible Development, a group she described as “a vehicle to tell the city the citizens were upset.”
It is important to Edelman to ensure that YarrowBay does what it agreed to do, she said.
Nelson, meanwhile, was born in Seattle and raised in Kent — he graduated from Kentridge High — where he lived with his wife and two children until 10 years ago when they decided it would be better to move to Black Diamond because they were looking for “a safer, more family friendly community.”
What initially drew Nelson into Black Diamond’s political scene was changes to the city’s police department. As he became more involved he felt like there was more to tackle.
“I think that the council that was there wasn’t listening to us if we tried to speak to them as citizens,” Nelson said. “The growth has to happen to save the city and with the MPDs they have out now the council can actually control how the growth happens. I want to be the voice of the city and tell the truth to everybody, not from one angle. I got in to be helpful. The more that I got involved the more and more disheartening it was to see how things have taken place.”
Both candidates agree that the growth coming as a result of YarrowBay’s proposed developments will happen and it is critical to guide it so it is well thought out while also being beneficial for residents.
“There are checks and balances to control the growth and make sure it doesn’t get out of control,” Nelson said. “As a council, collectively, we can help steer and guide that in the right direction. The MPDs have stop gaps. We can check to see if they crossed all their Ts and dotted all their Is. If they don’t, then we can stop it.”
Nelson and Edelman both want to see the city do a better job of bringing in business to the city.
“To help the city be more accessible to the people and a lot more business friendly, a lot more business friendly,” Nelson said. “You can claim it’s the economy but the businesses are opening up somewhere else because it wasn’t working in Black Diamond.”
Edelman said that once the houses are built, then the city can work to bring in businesses.
“Who is going to occupy those businesses,” Edelman said. “My question is, what is coming into Black Diamond? We need some good, sustainable businesses.”
For Edelman, sustainability also applies to the city’s budget process. She serves on the city’s finance committee, and recently spent time at a municipal finance seminar in Leavenworth.
“There’s a lot of budgetary issues in the city,” Edelman said. “We’re looking at the budgets right now and we’re down in the weeds. We want to make sure the city can sustain itself until the growth happens.”
A concern for Nelson related to the impending growth is the state of the city’s police force.
“There are ways and means to bring in revenue to help the police department and with the growth that’s coming you can’t go backward with police,” he said. “We have to find ways to keep, save and bring more police to Black Diamond. You don’t bring in all the new residents and take police away, it doesn’t make sense. I do have ideas and suggestions to make when the time comes.”
And both candidates see a need for the city to communicate better with Black Diamond residents on all issues.
“Our citizens aren’t stupid, contrary to what some people may think, I’m finding that as I’m door-belling,” Edelman said. “We’ve got to pull the city back together, the citizens of the city back together. There’s still this chasm. People think there’s this pro-growth (side), there’s this no growth—not in my backyard (side), but most people are in the middle. We know growth is coming but it needs to be responsibly done. If we could bring those other two factions closer to the middle … we need to be able to listen to our citizens, we need to pay attention to them, we can’t just blow them off.”
Nelson said it is difficult for an ordinary resident to find information.
“There needs to be something to bridge the gap, whether that be a newsletter, a separate website or community forums … that needs to change,” Nelson said. “Once (the development) happens I think people are really going to start asking questions and that’s when we need to have an open format to help people find out what’s going on. MPDs aren’t common here and people don’t understand it.”
Edelman said voters should know she doesn’t come to the race with an agenda.
“I want to do the best job I can do to protect our citizens and keep our taxes as low as possible,” she said. “It’s fun, I feel like I’m doing something good for our community. I’m honest, I have personal integrity and I do the right thing and I’m not beholden to everybody. I think I can do some good for this city. I don’t have an agenda, I’m not coming into stop YarrowBay, I’m here to make sure we hold them accountable and responsible.”
Nelson said he has a different strategy he plans to employ if he is elected.
“One thing I bring is the ability to communicate to the community from the council,” he said. “Instead of asking the people who have fought and not gotten along I would ask people outside what we could do to communicate with the community. The thing I want to do, the city itself as a whole, has been so divided they haven’t been able to come together … I’m going outside of Black Diamond to professionals to mediate and create a more united front in the city. I want to help build a city where my kids can maybe reside in themselves and grow old in. I’m excited to communicate with the city and meet all the residents and be as involved as I have been in the past in Black Diamond.”