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Edmonds newest Mayor Mike Rosen, ‘Make Edmonds politics boring again!’

Edmonds newest Mayor Mike Rosen, ‘Make Edmonds politics boring again!’ | Lynnwood Times YT

EDMONDS, Wash., January 12, 2023—Running for mayor, or any elected official position, was far from Edmonds newest Mayor Mike Rosen’s radar when he happily retired from making nature and wildlife documentary films in 2022. But when he started to notice the increasing divisiveness in politics that was happening nationally, he felt calling to do something to set things right, at least in his home city of Edmonds.

“It seemed to be more about left and right than doing what’s right,” Mike Rosen told the Lynnwood Times. “And that troubled me. I thought not here, not in the Northwest — we’re better than that. But we weren’t better than that. It came to the Northwest, and it came to Edmonds.”

He continued to say if he lined up everyone in the city and asked them to “raise [their] hand if [they] think government is doing things right,” he believes no one would raise their hand. He further has always believed people should have critical involvement in the decision-making process that impacts them.

Edmonds Rosen
Kienan Briscoe (left) with Edmonds Mayor Mike Rosen (right) at the Edmonds Waterfront Center. SOURCE: Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

Local politics, to Rosen, are held up by the four pillars of council, the public, the Mayor, and city staff. In Edmonds, he said, that system got “pretty dysfunctional” and he felt like he could make a positive impact on restoring it. He joked that if he had to have a campaign catchphrase it would have been “Make Edmonds politics boring again”— meaning less scandals, less drama and getting back to a position where the public can trust their elected officials to make decisions for their best interest.

Before Rosen retired, he was part-owner and Managing Principle for an integrated communication firm, PRR, where about 50% of the work was for local governments.

“We were the people they called when they couldn’t do it, or they needed help doing it, or needed help figuring it out,” said Rosen. “So, I knew I could solve government problems.”

The firm also held public engagement and market research whenever a government was slated to make a big decision, for the public to make informed decisions. This community engagement, Rosen added, granted a unique perspective and skillsets of understanding the needs of a community.

Rosen officially assumed office on January 1 and now 10-days into his tenure, his first week was primarily spent meeting people over coffee, listening to the situations at hand, and assessing where the “burning fires” exist.

“It’s a big city with several hundred employees, 14 boards and commissions, and a lot going on,” said Rosen. “When someone elects you, you’re into it for 1,461 days so I now only have 1,451 days to get moving, so I also feel the pressure of time in terms of moving forward as far as the kinds of issues we have to face.”

Rosen’s priorities are returning, and maintaining, city staffing levels and balancing the city’s budget. Rosen stated that many of the issues Edmonds faces are not unique to Edmonds such as inflation and adhering to paying staff members a competitive wage as the price of everything else skyrockets.

“We only have so many revenue streams. I think there’s some confusion with the public like when they get their property tax bill and say, ‘what’s up with the city?’ But the reality is only 14% of that is actually going to the city because, rightfully, people said they want better schools, or they want better transportation,” said Rosen. “So, we have this reality of revenues are not keeping up with costs and you can save only so much. But the reality is also you want the police to show up if there’s a problem, you want the medics to show up if there’s a health issue, you want the fire guys to show up if something burning, and you want the roads to work, and water to show up and go away when you’re done with it. That’s a long way of saying to fund that you need multiple sources, and we are going to have to save what we can, get back to basics, and budget by priorities.”

Rosen noted he wants to encourage the public to engage in decisions that will have a long-term effect on the future of Edmonds.

“Vision unites us. We all choose to live in this place for most of the same reasons, let’s not screw that up,” said Rosen. “Now what else can we improve and help create a future, or lay the foundation for a future, that’s yours and making sure that those people are involved. I’m not in this because I want a bridge named after me, it is can we put trust back in government. Can we make the four pillars work tightly together, can we have a good decision-making process, and can we have some core values, understanding there were people before us and there will be people after us.”

Prior to becoming Mayor Rosen has been imbedded in Edmonds affairs for years, volunteering as Secretary of the Board of Directors for Edmonds Center for the Arts, the city’s Planning Board, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, and the Waterfront Center.

“There are amazing people walking around this town. I believe that volunteerism is the secret sauce to this country and the people walking around this city – the experiences they’ve had and the sandboxes they’ve played in – if we put a group of people together to help solve a problem I think their first question will be ‘what do you want us to do after lunch?’,” said Edmonds Mayor Rosen. “I love this place.”

Rosen got his first job working in television when he was a junior in high school. Originally from Wisconsin, Rosen first moved to the Northwest after landing a job at Kiro7 — first in news but later a producer for their documentary film unit. He also managed their public affairs. He and his wife, Sharon, have made several nature and wildlife documentary films of which they have won several hundred national and international awards including a Peabody.

Through his film career he was almost killed by Mount Saint Helens and came face-to-face with several dangerous animals such as a silverback gorilla, lions, tigers, and Hippos.

When asked what his favorite thing about Edmonds, Rosen’s face lit up as he mentioned its robust community and community-driven events like Halloween, the Fourth of July, and the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

When Rosen is not working in the Mayoral Office, he enjoys pursuing his photography hobby and travel. Whenever Rosen and his wife Sharon travel, he noted they typically choose locations that have large and exotic animals for an adventure.

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