Kimberly Cole kicked off Lynnwood City Council

LYNNWOOD — A Lynnwood city councilwoman was booted from her position Monday night after her colleagues said she’d missed too many meetings.

Kimberly Cole failed to attend at least 18 council business meetings and work sessions so far this year, Council President Loren Simmonds said Tuesday.

Councilmembers spent months trying to talk to Cole and work with her about the problem, but they felt like they’d exhausted their options, Simmonds said.

“The truth of it was, it was very sad,” he said.

The council took action after Cole had three consecutive unexcused absences in recent weeks.

Questions about Cole not attending meetings, and showing up late or leaving early, have been a recurring issue this year. She’s often been the target of critical comments from other council members at meetings.

“This has been an ongoing issue all year, in fact that she has missed so many meetings,” Council Vice President Kerri Lonergan-Dreke said Tuesday. “Council members have been concerned about it, but really there’s little we can do unless there are three (consecutive unexcused absences).”

Simmonds moved for the council to vote to vacate Cole’s position, and the motion was seconded, he said. The motion was based on a state law governing city council attendance policies.

The council members spent about 20 minutes in executive session with the city attorney and Mayor Don Gough, Simmonds said. Cole was excluded from the closed-door discussion.

Afterward, the council voted 6-1 to dismiss Cole. She was the dissenting vote.

Early in the evening, Cole said she had a right to a public hearing about the dismissal action, but later in the meeting said she didn’t want one, Simmonds said.

Most of the council was unaware that the motion would be made at Monday’s meeting, Lonergan-Dreke said.

About five minutes after the vote, Cole “picked up her stuff and walked out of the council chambers,” Simmonds said.

Cole’s been a controversial figure in south Snohomish County politics for several years. She also used to be the mayor’s assistant in Edmonds, but that blew up about a year ago after another employee raised questions about her payroll documents and attendance at work.

Cole later sued Edmonds over claims of harassment and hostility in the workplace. An independent investigator found most of the claims unfounded.

Barring some sort of a challenge, Lynnwood has 90 days to fill the council position. The application process is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Cole was elected to the council in 2009. The position is next scheduled for an election in 2013. It pays roughly $18,000 a year.

Whoever is appointed will be allowed to run in that election if they wish.

Calls to Cole and to the mayor’s office were unreturned Tuesday.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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