Edmonds mayor removes finance director with no cause given

Scott James joined the city in 2014. He’s the third department director to leave in the past year.

Scott James (City of Edmonds)

Scott James (City of Edmonds)

EDMONDS — Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson has removed the city’s finance director.

Scott James has served as the city’s head of finance since 2014. Monday will be his last day, according to an employee separation agreement obtained by The Daily Herald. James is the first department director to leave Edmonds since Nelson took over as mayor in January, and the third to do so in the past year.

Nelson declined to comment on the separation agreement but said, “I appreciate Scott’s service to our city and wish him the very best.”

Assistant Finance Director Dave Turley will take over the position.

“I have every confidence Dave can hit the ground running as our acting finance director and help guide the city’s finances during these times,” Nelson said.

James’ employment agreement allows the mayor to remove him from his position, with or without cause. Nelson removed James without cause.

Per the separation agreement, the city will give James six months of severance pay and health insurance premiums for the same span. His annual salary is about $164,000.

The deal bars James from talking to the media, making disparaging statements about the city or seeking reemployment with the city.

Last Tuesday, the Edmonds City Council approved the agreement with a 4-3 vote.

Council members Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Laura Johnson, Susan Paine and Luke Distelhorst voted in favor of the deal. Diane Buckshnis, Vivian Olson and Kristiana Johnson voted against it.

Prior to the vote, Buckshnis made a motion to remove the section of the agreement that bars James from being employed by the city in the future. Fraley-Monillas, Paine, Distelhorst and Laura Johnson voted to keep the clause.

James was hired as the city’s finance director in 2014. He first worked for the city as a staff accountant from 1998 to 2005. Prior to taking over the city’s finances, he served in the same position for the city of Mukilteo.

In the past year, directors for the city’s Human Resources and Parks and Recreation departments, as well as the police chief, have either taken jobs outside Edmonds or retired.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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