County Council votes to seek Reardon’s replacement

EVERETT — Weary of waiting for Aaron Reardon to submit paperwork formalizing his plans to resign as Snohomish County executive, the County Council voted 4-0 on Monday to start the process of identifying his replacement.

The council took the step to ensure a timely transition for the next executive to assume office, County Council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright said.

The council hopes to begin interviewing candidates by June 3.

“I think that it’s important that we end the speculation and confusion about the process,” Councilman Dave Somers said.

“We have to do the business of the people of Snohomish County,” added Councilman Brian Sullivan. “We represent over 700,000 constituents.”

Reardon in late February announced plans to step down May 31, promising to assist in a smooth transition for his successor.

Aside from sending out a Feb. 21 press release containing the text of his resignation speech in front of business leaders in Everett, Reardon did not provide any other written notice.

That left other county leaders in limbo. By law the County Council is required to pick Reardon’s replacement. He never answered a May 2 letter from the council asking him to submit a more formal, written resignation.

The motion approved on Monday points to Reardon’s February speech as his notice to the council, noting Wright was in the audience that morning.

The county council “wishes to formally accept the Executive’s (Feb. 21) tendered resignation,” the motion reads.

Reardon’s spokesman, Christopher Schwarzen, said there was “nothing that has prevented the Democratic Party or the County Council from putting together a list of three names as required by law.

“There is nothing in the County Charter or state law that requires a letter of resignation,” Schwarzen wrote. “People want to suggest that this office has held up the process, but that is not true.”

That differs from what Reardon said in March, when asked about the uncertainty surrounding his resignation. “I plan on sending a letter as required,” he wrote in an email to The Herald.

Reardon’s resignation announcement came a day after the County Council voted to strip him of authority to manage the county’s public records and computer system. The council also called for an independent investigation, now being pursued by the King County Sheriff’s Office, into evidence linking two people then on Reardon’s staff to a series of anonymous public records requests, attack websites and other activities targeting people considered the executive’s political rivals.

As The Herald reported Feb. 14, those on the receiving end believed they were being subjected to attempts at harassment and surveillance.

Because Reardon is a Democrat in a partisan elected office, the law says it’s up to Snohomish County Democrats to pick three nominees to replace him. The county party’s central committee will forward the names to the County Council. The council then has 60 days to agree on a successor. If that proves impossible the choice would fall to Gov. Jay Inslee. In the meantime, the county charter says that the deputy executive under Reardon, Gary Haakenson, would assume the responsibilities of the county’s top elected job.

Some in the community had urged Reardon to leave office earlier, giving voters a chance this fall to weigh in on his replacement. With filing already closed for this fall election, that option has passed. That means the person appointed to be the next county executive will serve unchallenged at least into November 2014, when results are certified in a special election expected next year.

An election for a full, four-year term is expected in 2015.

Snohomish County Democratic party leaders have scheduled a formal vote to nominate three candidates for the executive appointment at the Everett Labor Temple on June 1.

“Clearly the council’s motion today expedites our process,” said Richard Wright, the chairman of Snohomish County Democrats and the husband of Stephanie Wright.

The likely nominees are: Sheriff John Lovick of Mill Creek; state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip; and Everett attorney Todd Nichols, a longtime Democratic Party leader at the state and county level. Lovick is said to have locked up support from a majority of local Democrats.

“While clearly there’s a frontrunner in this group, I think this is a good group of nominees,” Richard Wright said.

County Councilman Dave Gossett was on vacation Monday and did not cast a vote in the Reardon resolution.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Jogger unharmed after fending off attacker in Edmonds

Police released video of a man they believe to be the attacker.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Three teens arrested for Marysville school vandalism

Windows were broken and a trash bin was on fire Sunday night at a Marysville middle school.

Langley mayor threatens newspaper with lawsuit

The mayor threatened to sue the paper over claims he withheld public records disclosure information.

Divers called to recover body after train hits pedestrian

The accident was reported by a BNSF crew near Woods Creek in Monroe.

Katharine Graham, then CEO and chairwoman of the board of The Washington Post Co., looks over a copy of The Daily Herald with Larry Hanson, then The Herald’s publisher, during her visit to Everett on Sept. 20, 1984. The Washington Post Co. owned The Herald from 1978 until 2013. (Herald archives)
A local connection to history

Retired Herald publisher Larry Hanson remembers The Post’s Katharine Graham, who visited several times.

Most Read