County leadership still in limbo

EVERETT — The timing of Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon’s May 31 resignation has been a head-scratcher since he announced it in February.

If Reardon had opted to step down before the official candidate-filing period began this week, the county could have scheduled a special election in November to fill the two-plus years remaining on his term.

For that reason, some political insiders have speculated that Reardon would move up his resignation date. All the more so because the scandals dogging the executive have only grown since Feb. 14, when The Herald published a story linking two Reardon staffers to public records requests and attack websites targeting their boss’ enemies. Reardon has said he was unaware of the activity.

Sunday came and went, without Reardon sending a letter to the County Council formalizing his resignation.

That means whoever is appointed to fill Reardon’s job will serve unchallenged at least into November 2014, when results are certified in a special election expected next year.

Here’s a breakdown of the appointment process:

•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.

For the council to start the process, it needs to have written notice from the executive. That had not occurred as of Monday afternoon. Reardon never answered a May 2 letter from the council asking him to submit the letter and make good on his promise to create a seamless transition.

The County Council will have 60 days from the date of the vacancy to make a final selection. If a majority of the council is unable to choose an appointee, the task goes to the governor, who has 30 days to make a decision.

Under the county charter, Reardon’s deputy executive, Gary Haakenson, would be the acting executive for any period between Reardon’s departure and the appointment of his successor.

A special election to fill the remainder of Reardon’s term would occur on Nov. 4, 2014.

The person appointed executive can run in the special election and will serve until those results are certified. That’s due to happen on Nov. 25, 2014.

An election for the full, four-year term is scheduled in 2015.

The appointment and the special election would not count toward the candidate’s term limits. An executive may serve no more than three consecutive four-year terms.

So far, Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick and state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, have put forward their names seeking the position. Lovick appears to have sewn up support from a majority of local Democrats. The party continues to seek a third nominee, said Richard Wright, chairman of Snohomish County Democrats.

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