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April 12, 2012
Michael Plunkett: 14 years of commitment
EDMONDS, Washington (STPNS) -- Edmonds City Council member Michael Plunkett is resigning his position after 14 years. He announced he will leave on June 4.
After recently marrying his wife Patty, he will be moving to Magnolia, where she owns a home.
But even after all this time working for the city he grew up in, he’s doing what he can to make the transition as painless as possible.
“I told Strom (Peterson, Edmonds City Council President) I’d give him a lot of lead time,” Plunkett said. “They need about 45 days. I’m trying to make as easy a transition as possible.”
That 45 days will be spent advertising for replacements for his position, and deciding among the candidates who will take over.
Taking over for Plunkett won’t be easy.
Some of his political positions have been unbending over the years. And they haven’t been popular with everyone.
“I’ve doorbelled the town at least five times for different elections,” Plunkett said. “What people like about Edmonds is what it is now.
“They don’t want more condos; they want to maintain what we have.”
Many can agree with that statement, but to hold that position for more than a decade has not always been easy – or popular.
“The one commitment I’ve kept is to keep Edmonds the way it was, as much as possible,” Plunkett said. “It’s easy to say, but when the rubber hits the road – the voting on it, that’s not so easy. But I think I’ve done it.”
As an example, Plunkett talks about a vote to allow casinos in town. And a City Council that was almost entirely in favor of allowing those casinos.
“Dave Orvis and I stopped the casinos,” he said. “We brought petitions to the council with 5,000 signatures on them.”
Plunkett also lists supporting the development of the Performing Arts Center and opposing the square-foot tax on businesses as goals he was able to accomplish.
And then there is the height issues that pop up continually. Plunkett sees it simply.
“Taller does not mean economic development,” he said. “Enhancing what we have will be economic development.”
There’s one “council moment” that sticks out in Plunkett’s mind – not a particularly good moment, but an accomplishment just the same.
“The loneliest night I ever had on council,” he said, with maybe just the hint of a smile. “I brought the dog and cat petitions to the council all by myself.
“We were rotating feral cats and unsprayed dogs in and out of our shelter, and it was costing money.
“I wanted the shelter to spay the animals and provide health care to them.”
Plunkett contacted PAWS, and together they collected about 5,000 signatures on a petition to put the “dog and cat” issue on the ballot.
“I told the council, ‘We either do this legislatively or I’ll put it on the ballot.’” he said.
“They lambasted me, but finally they voted to spay and neuter the cats and dogs.”
Plunkett notes that the petitions worked only after a year of trying, and three or four votes failing before the council.
“I can’t tell you, after 14 years, how many people have said, ‘You can’t do it,’ but we’ve done it,” Plunkett said.
He also remembers his favorite emails.
“One person wrote to me after I voted the way they felt on some issue, and told me, ‘What a statesman you are, so wise,’” he said.
Later, on another issue, he got another email from the same person. “What an idiot,” they said.
Plunkett also feels getting along with those you work with is one of the keys to getting things done.
For instance, Plunkett said he and then Council member Dave Earling haven’t always seen eye to eye, but he thinks Earling is doing a good job as mayor.
“The way he goes about his business is refreshing,” Plunkett said. “His ways and means are very productive and helpful.
“I’m exceedingly confidant Mayor Earling will continue to be cooperative and run a good council meeting. That’s how he does business.”
He says that’s how everything comes about – how a good council operates.
“I’m also confident with this council,” Plunkett said. “I’m confident in who they choose to replace me with. It’s a good time for me to leave.”
Any things left undone?
“There was a conflict, after growing up here,” he said. “I guess it’s fair to say I always wanted to be mayor.
“But things change. Family relationships change. It was my decision.”
It’s also fair to say that some things haven’t changed too much in the last 14 years. And a lot of Edmonds residents are just fine with that.
And they have Michael Plunkett and his years of service to the city to thank for that.
For a listing of Michael Plunkett’s accomplishments as a council member, see the complete story at www.edmondsbeacon.villiagesoup.com.
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