By Billye Brooks-Sebastiani
To say the people of Snohomish County are disappointed in County Executive Aaron Reardon would be the understatement of the year.
While it is clear that Reardon has made the responsible choice to step down from office, his decision to not step down immediately raised new concerns about the executive and council branches of Snohomish County government. The fact that it has been over two months since Reardon indicated that he would submit his resignation with an effective date of the end of May, but has not done so, is a travesty.
There is nothing so vitally important that Reardon needs to stay in office through the end of May. My call for Reardon to resign immediately is the latest of many by both Republican and Democratic authors: On June 17, 2012, Bill Cooper, former Snohomish County Republican Party Chair, wrote an article boldly stating that Aaron Reardon should step aside and resign because of the ethics allegations and the appearance of mismanagement within the county administration; this March, the Herald Editorial Board opined that “Reardon, in the end, doesn’t matter. What matters is restoring the people’s faith, serving the public interest and learning from the executive’s (unvirtuous) example.” On March 31, Richard Wright, Snohomish County Democratic Central Committee Chairman, firmly stated “clearly there is public interest in a quick, successful resolution and in moving the county forward” and, on Saturday, Michelle Valentine, President of the League of Women Voters, believes that the democratic form of government depends on the active and informed participation of citizens and that citizens’ voting right must be protected.
The lack of immediate action by Reardon to resign is a direct reflection of his leadership and the issues that have been ongoing distractions during his terms in office.
It is clear to Snohomish County citizens, by staying in office until after the filing deadline, the appointment to fill Reardon’s position goes unchallenged until November 2014. The voters of this county have a right to elect a successor in a timely manner and their voting privilege must not be denied.
For Reardon to delay his resignation is nothing short of a “political maneuver,” which steals the voices of the voters and their right to elect a successor in a democratic and timely manner. Further, by not stepping down immediately, Reardon will cast a shadow over his successor and that person’s ability to separate himself/herself from the current administration’s activities.
Let’s have the election for Snohomish County Executive and get on with the management of this great county: creating jobs, building a strong, cohesive network of our cities that will attract industries and helping our citizens and small businesses be successful in Washington’s third-largest county.
Aaron Reardon has a choice. He has the unique opportunity to conclude his political career with the dignity and grace expected from a leader facing extreme difficulties. Reardon can show those who supported him throughout the years, as well as his detractors, that he understands that the office is bigger than the man. He can demonstrate that his last act as executive won’t be playing political games; after all, isn’t that an allegation against his administration already? Having the legal right to use the filing deadline approach is a question of rules and regulations. Actually, doing it … is a question of ethics.
Reardon can step down from office immediately, doing what is right, or he can make one more mistake by waiting to resign and leaving that last action as his legacy in the minds of those who placed their trust in his leadership.
Mr. Reardon, it is time to go. Do not disenfranchise the voters of Snohomish County.
Billye Brooks-Sebastiani is chair of the Snohomish County Republican Party.