On Feb. 21, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon announced plans to resign from office effective May 31. Reardon's decision came on the heels of an investigative series by The Herald's Scott North and Noah Haglund that exposed evidence of online harassment and surveillance of Reardon's political enemies -- a list that extends to those who cooperated in the Washington State Patrol's investigation of Reardon's use of public money. The County Council took emergency action to yank the county's tech services from Reardon's purview, and handed responsibility to Snohomish County's elected auditor, Carolyn Weikel.
The county executive said his resignation was prompted by "false and scurrilous accusations" emanating from "groups that oppose" him. Reardon never elaborated. He promised, however, to "assist the interim executive with a seamless transition into his or her new job."
The primary obstacle is an official letter of resignation that sets the appointment process in motion. As Haglund reported last week, "The absence of any such letter, two months after the resignation announcement, has left doubts about Reardon's plans."
The citizens of Snohomish County are now cast into an inane drama. The seamless transition is reduced to obfuscation. Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, Reardon's well-regarded, potential successor, said, "I've called his office several times asking for a time to meet. Last time I ran into him on campus (a few weeks ago), he told me he would call. I realize he's very, very busy, so I'm just waiting for him to call." Sigh.
The Snohomish County League of Women Voters, the Democratic and Republican parties, and The Herald Editorial Board all have urged Reardon to resign before the May 17 filing-week deadline. Absent a truncated timeline, Reardon's appointed successor will not stand for election until 2014.
Snohomish County voters often use no-waves language -- the legacy of a political culture steeped in Scandinavian-Asian cool-headedness. As Northwesterners, we embrace Mel Blanc playing the hyper-polite Tosh from the 1940s Warner Bros. cartoon, "The Goofy Gophers." "We would be most pleased if you gave voters a choice. If you don't mind, that is."
The supposition is that do-the-right-thing logic will resonate. But as Lovick observed, "My opinion probably doesn't matter much to Aaron."
Emily Dickinson wrote, "A little Madness in the Spring/Is wholesome even for the King." Reardon could do himself enormous good by siding with the better angels.
Please resign by May 17 and send that letter. If you don't mind, that is.
Clarification: According to Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel, the county charter states that a vacancy must occur prior to the last day of filing, while the state statute declares a vacancy must occur by the first day of filing. The charter is in conflict with the state statute and in those situations the state statute rules, according to Weikel. Read: Reardon needs to resign prior to May 13th to trigger an election this year.
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