By Evan Smith
Edmonds City Council President Diane Buckshnis says that the deadlock over appointment of a new Council member is likely to continue unless someone budges from the entrenched positions that left the Council in a 3-3 tie after 27 ballots on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
The Council is seeking to replace former Councilman Frank Yamamoto, who resigned at the end of December due to illness.
Through the 27 ballots last week, three council members — Joan Bloom, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Lora Petso — supported former Councilman Steve Bernheim; the other three — Buckshnis, Kristiiana Johnson and Strom Peterson — started supporting three separate candidates before Johnson and Peterson joined Buckshnis in supporting former federal prosecutor Stephen Shroeder. If no candidate gets the votes of four city council members by March 31, the five-member Snohomish County Council would have 90 days to make the appointment.
“We can do nothing to break the deadlock other than determining if we want to work with a former council member who has a history with this city and is unwilling to run in 2015,” Buckshnis said Monday. “If no one wants to budge on looking at any of the other candidates and their resumes and they have their mind set on only one, we may have to send it to the Snohomish County Council. It is what it is.”
State law for filling vacancies on nonpartisan elected councils, boards and commissions gives the remaining members of the body 90 days to fill the vacancy. If the remaining members don’t give one applicant a majority within 90 days, the appointment power goes to the county legislative body. The county council would then have 90 additional days to make the appointment.
If neither the city council nor the county council can reach a majority decision, either body can petition the governor to make the appointment. That’s unlikely with the Snohomish County Council having a full five members.
The appointment process is now in its fourth week. The council interviewed 14 candidates on Jan. 28, then asked seven applicants for more information, six through interviews Feb. 4 and one who answered questions by e-mail because he was unavailable for that meeting. When several of the other applicants sought the same opportunity, the council brought two of them back for interviews Feb. 11, while others answered questions by e-mail.
The appointed council member will serve through the 2015 election.