Friends, family and community leaders joined Lynnwood City Councilmember Christine Frizzell last week as she kicked off her campaign for Lynnwood mayor.
Meeting remotely via Zoom, current and former civic officials, housing and diversity advocates, and other community leaders all agreed on one thing — Frizzell is the best person to take on the task of leading the city.
“Christine is the only candidate for mayor — either declared or undeclared — who appreciates, embraces and who understands the value of a cultural, racial and ethnically diverse city,” said Wally Webster, Frizzell’s campaign manager. “Her travels and volunteerism in undeveloped countries have deepened her awareness of how we learn and grow from each other’s differences and backgrounds.”
Frizzell was the first candidate to publicly announce she was seeking the mayor’s job. Current Mayor Nicola Smith, who was elected in 2014, is not running for a third term. So far two other candidates – City Council President George Hurst and Council Vice President Jim Smith – have indicated they intend to run for Lynnwood mayor. The primary election is Aug. 3, 2021 for positions that have three or more candidates.
The event was emceed by Argo Strategies Campaign Director Sam Gutierrez, who has previously worked on campaigns that include 32nd District Rep. Cindy Ryu and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s run for president. Over the past few months, Gutierrez has been working with Frizzell as she prepared to launch her campaign and said it was her commitment to diversity that attracted him.
“I only throw my lot in with the candidates who really go the extra mile not for voters but for community members and neighbors,” he said. “After initially meeting with and chatting with Christine months ago and just watching her progress as we built this campaign, there’s almost no one that I can say I’d be as excited to kick off a campaign for this evening.”
Frizzell is a Lynnwood native and graduate of Meadowdale High School. She has been a member of the council since 2017 and has served as council president and vice president. Frizzell has also had her eye on the mayor’s seat for some time. While on the council, she has worked alongside Smith, shadowing her in her role as Lynnwood’s mayor.
“I think that she will be able to do as I have done, which is break down the barriers to staff success,” said Smith, who has endorsed Frizzell for the job. “So that whatever is impeding the good work that they need to do, the mayor is able to get them there.”
During last week’s campaign launch, Smith said that she has shown Frizzell how to be a “strong mayor,” which is comparable to serving as a company CEO. According to Smith, 80% of being mayor is working with the city’s Human Resources Department to ensure all city employees — from police, to road crews, to park maintenance — are able to do their jobs.
Smith also said that when she was elected mayor in 2014, Lynnwood was not considered the regional model it is today. For the past eight years, Smith has worked to build community partnerships and relationships — both at a local and state level.
“We now have really strong, solid, trusting relationships with a lot of people,” she said. “We are asked to be leaders and I believe that Christine will be able to carry on with those relationships and build the trust as I have been able to.”
According to Frizzell, she is ready to “not just talk the talk but walk the walk.”
“I often remember that as I think about why I’m doing what I’m doing,” she said. ”To serve our community.”
Frizzell is no stranger to community service. She has spent years working tirelessly with organizations — like Neighbors in Need and the Snohomish County Cold Weather Shelter — aimed at assisting the homeless. She has also served as council liaison to the city’s Audit Committee and Insurance, Council Finance Committee, the Snohomish Health District, the South County Fire Board of Commissioners and Citizens Patrol Volunteers. She currently serves on Snohomish Health District board.
Edmonds City Councilmember Vivian Olson called Frizzell “the ultimate servant leader,” adding that she is excited to invest in the local community by endorsing Frizzell’s bid for mayor of Lynnwood.
“(Frizzell) is an incredible participant in our community,” she said. “She’s so capable and she’s so involved and she’s done so many positive things for (those in need) and she does it in such a practical and smart way.”
Housing advocate Mindy Woods met Frizzell three years ago while testifying at a city council meeting about an apartment complex. Since then, the two have worked together on housing issues and Woods also praised Frizzell’s commitment to helping those struggling or at risk.
“When you are focused on the least of us, you’re literally focused on everybody and that to me is what community is all about,” she said.
LEAD Program Director Ashley Dawson said Frizzell recognizes the need to listen and learn from those around her, which is essential for a leader in a city as diverse as Lynnwood. During her time with the Lynnwood Police Department as an embedded social worker, Dawson said she worked alongside Frizzell to assist homeless and at-risk community members.
“Chris really takes care in serving her city as she demonstrated as our council president,” she said. “She acts as not just an advocate for people in need but she searches for solutions and ways to support those who are often marginalized.”
For 30 years, Frizzell has been a self-employed accountant. While the city continues to assess the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, many agreed her professional experience in finance will benefit the city.
“Not only is she fiscally calculative but Chris is able to recognize the toll that this pandemic has taken on the city, on business owners, on families, educators, children and on people in need,” Dawson said. “Chris is the leader that we need going forward to help us recover from the last year of challenges and there’s really no doubt in my mind that Chris can rise to the occasion — she already has.”
Edmonds School Board President Deborah Kilgore emphasized the importance of the upcoming election. According to Kilgore, Frizzell’s willingness and ability to reach out to community partners to resolve issues is what makes her the best candidate for mayor.
“We need the person who can make affordable housing happen,” she said. “We really need a serious person in this job in the coming years and Christine is the one.”
Frizzell has also been labeled a champion for diversity. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair Naz Lashgari praised Frizzell’s efforts to understand race issues in the city, which Lashgari said were genuine and authentic
“I just want to acknowledge that and say I am really proud to be supporting you — a person of integrity,” she said.
Closing the event, Webster also stressed the importance of the upcoming mayoral election and his beliefs that Frizzell is the best person for the job.
“We need to see this city rise to the next level (and) the only way that we can do it is to support Chris,” he said. “We cannot afford to not have her in the mayor’s office in 2022.”
–By Cody Sexton