County councilman complains about ‘intolerable’ remarks by Lovick deputy

EVERETT — Snohomish County Council chairman Dave Somers has filed a formal complaint alleging “reprehensible and intolerable” remarks against him and other council members.

In a Nov. 18 letter to Executive John Lovick, Somers accused Deputy Executive Mark Ericks of saying, in a private meeting, that he would kill Councilman Terry Ryan, “If it wasn’t for jail time.”

“This really exceeds what we were subjected to under the Reardon administration,” Somers said Wednesday. “It’s an intolerable, hostile environment. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”

Council members plan to consider hiring an outside attorney to investigate those remarks, and others, as potential workplace harassment.

This is the latest sign of a souring mood in county government. Lovick enjoyed tremendous good will when appointed in 2013 to replace his tainted predecessor, Aaron Reardon, who had a notoriously acrimonious relationship with other elected leaders. Lovick won election to a special one-year term in office Nov. 4 and must run again next year for another four years in office.

“When I voted to appoint you as County Executive, following former Executive Reardon’s resignation, it was my hope and sincerely held belief that county government would finally return to a workplace defined by civility and mutual respect,” Somers wrote.

Lovick could not be reached Wednesday.

Other instances cited in Somers’ letter include alleged remarks from Ericks about Councilman Ken Klein being a “former sandwich maker” for Microsoft employees, a reference to Klein’s previous job on the operations side of a food-services company.

During an executive’s cabinet meeting, for which Somers wasn’t present, the letter also describes Ericks allegedly referring to Ryan as a “terrorist” and reacting with amusement when the newly hired deputy director of the Medical Examiner’s Office, Dan Christman, joked about writing up death certificates for Ryan and Somers. Christman used to work with Ericks at the Bothell Police Department.

Somers said he tried to talk to Lovick about the comments a few weeks ago, but the executive “would not commit to any course of action at all.”

Ericks, for his part, said he suspected politics were in play, but was reluctant “to feed the gossip mill and the rumor mill.”

“It’s all connected and at the root, it’s all about politics,” he said. “Which one of those guys are we going to see on the ballot against John Lovick? That’s the heart of it.”

Ericks said the comments about death certificates did not occur the way they’re characterized in the letter.

The deputy executive said he believes a majority of the council took retaliatory action in the 2015 budget that a divided council passed on Monday — an allegation Somers refutes.

In a 3-2 vote, Somers, Ryan and Klein voted to eliminate Christman’s position at the end of the year, and took away a $17,559 raise that Ericks received earlier in the year. They set Ericks’ salary back to the $171,853 it was at the beginning of 2014. He was one of six managers in Lovick’s administration subject to the council’s rollback.

Council members Brian Sullivan and Stephanie Wright did not support those actions, and voted against the overall budget passed by their three colleagues.

Klein called the remarks described in Somers letter “a textbook case of a hostile work environment and it’s coming from the highest appointed person in the executive’s administration.

“He’s a former law enforcement official and should know better,” he added.

Ericks is a former Bellevue homicide detective, was police chief and city manager in Bothell, and was recruited to be Lovick’s deputy executive while serving as U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Washington.

All of the elected officials mentioned in the letter, with the exception of Klein, are Democrats. Most have supported one another in past campaigns. Ryan and Lovick, however, have a history of disagreements dating back to their time together on the Mill Creek City Council.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A chair lift sits idle on Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
A blizzard of Stevens Pass complaints hits the AG’s office

The ski resort’s new manager says he’s working to address frustrations about lines and closures.

Branden McKinnon (Family photo)
Lawsuit blames mother’s unsecured gun for Marysville boy’s death

Branden McKinnon, 12, got hold of a gun belonging to his mother, a Department of Corrections lieutenant. His father is suing.

Police: Everett man left family member with life-threatening injuries

An Everett man, 23, was in jail on $100,000 bail after being accused of confronting women and attacking a relative.

Michelle Roth is a registered nurse in the Providence Emergency Department on Sunday, January 23, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Nurses face burnout as hospital staffing shortage continues

‘It feels like there has been a mass exodus in the last two to three months.’

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A fake vax card could land you in jail if this bill passes

Here’s what’s happening on Day 15 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

A SWAT team responds during an 8-hour standoff between police and a man brandishing a knife at a home in south Edmonds on Sunday night. (Edmonds Police Department)
9-hour Edmonds standoff with knife-wielding man ends in arrest

The man reportedly threatened to kill his family. Police spent hours trying to get him to come outside.

Security footage depicting an armed robbery at Buds Garage in Everett on Tuesday, Jan.18, 2022. (Contributed photo)
Everett pot shop robbed twice; others targeted in recent months

Armed robbers have hit Buds Garage off Everett Avenue twice since December.

An artist’s rendering of the 4,600-square-foot Progressive Animal Welfare Society hospital south of Snohomish that will care for injured and orphaned wild animals. (PAWS)  20220121
Bears, bobcats, oh my: Wildlife center takes shape near Snohomish

In Lynnwood, PAWS could care for six bears at a time. Now, they’ll have space for 30 — and a lot more.

Island County jail slammed with first COVID outbreak

Three cell blocks are in quarantine and about a third of the jail staff are out with COVID.

Most Read