Episode 51: The music of community service with Dave Earling
Dave Earling has worn the mantles of many different roles.
Student. Musician. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Teacher. Business owner. City council member. Volunteer.
And perhaps most recently and visibly, Mayor of Edmonds.
Earling speaks in this episode of the Check It Out! podcast as he brings that role as city executive to close.
“I jokingly say that I have a checkered past,” Earling says. “But, if you are truly interested in what you are doing, you’ll be successful and that’s how I’ve worked.”
Earling’s service as mayor ends Dec. 31, 2019, but his eight years at the helm is hardly the extent of his involvement and support for Edmonds. Earling is well-known for his unabashed boosterism phrase, “It is always sunny and 82 in Edmonds.” The actual weather at the moment never matters to Earling’s outlook.
As a 23-year-old sporting a freshly minted graduate music degree from Washington State University, Earling says his first job at Shoreline Community College in some ways set the tone for what was to follow.
“I taught at Shoreline for 11 years,” Earling says. “I was interested in preparing people for performance. As a conductor, you put out a sheet of music, rehearse and then have a performance.
“It’s exhilarating to see people go through the process, to share the pleasure of the performance and realize that accomplishment.”
Earling says that when he arrived at Shoreline, there were 32 performance students and by the time he left, there were more than 200.
“Always leave it better than you arrived,” Earling says of one of his guiding principles.
That experience of bringing disparate individuals together for a commonly identified goal became Earlring’s go-to approach as he moved into business and politics.
An intense schedule promoted Earling to take a break from teaching and he went to work at Edmonds Realty. “I worked there for a number of years until I had an opportunity to buy the company,” he says. “We watched it grow, watched the success of the various agents we hired.”
During that time, Earling became involved with the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and eventually serving as president and growing the organization.
A desire to become more involved led to a successful run for city council. “I was on (the council) for 12 years through a variety of leadership styles,” Earling says. “When you are in an elected position, you don’t choose friends, they just show up and you have to make it work.”
From his time as mayor, Earling cites many accomplishments, but says he is particularly proud of the city’s designation by the state of Washington as a “Creative District,” the first in the state. “We have a great base of things in Edmonds around the arts and we are focused on trying to expand that,” he says.
While Earling says he’s not exactly sure what lies ahead for himself beyond a bit of relaxing, he does feel good about where the city is headed.
“This will sound corny,” Earling says. “Edmonds is a rare gem. How many cities can you drive to and have a small-town experience? Edmonds is a daytime destination, just 14 miles from downtown Seattle. My philosophy is you go where you find success and we need to continue to build on what we have.”
Episode length: 1:05:53
- WSU School of Music
- Shoreline Community College Music Department
- Edmonds Realty
- Edmonds Chamber of Commerce
- City of Edmonds
- Edmonds Creative District
- Growth Management Hearing Board
Susan Hempstead is Assistant Director of Strategic Relations for Sno-Isle Libraries. Susan joined Sno-Isle Libraries in 2015 bringing 15 years of customer, community and government relations experience.
Jim Hills is the library district’s Assistant Communications Director, Communications & Marketing. Jim is a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.
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