Everett’s Olson returns to duties Thursday

EVERETT — Everett City Councilman Mark Olson will return to office before a prosecutor decides whether to pursue rape charges against him.

Olson, who is facing pressure from fellow council members to resign, was granted an extended paid leave of absence Sept. 19. He is due back to City Hall tomorrow.

Olson, 52, an Everett attorney, did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday. Instead, he e-mailed a written statement, saying he used his time off to re-examine priorities and attend to personal issues.

“I return to the council with a refreshed sense of purpose and am ready to roll-up my sleeves and resume work on behalf of the citizens of Everett,” Olson wrote.

He’s denied allegations that he raped an acquaintance in June at his downtown Everett law office after a night of drinking. Olson admitted sexual contact with the woman, but said it was consensual, according to a police affidavit.

Olson has not been charged with a crime, and prosecutors say it could be weeks before a decision is announced.

Even so, fallout from the councilman’s legal woes have frayed the council.

“The controversy that’s been present for the last few months has been very distracting,” said Councilman Arlan Hatloe, one of Olson’s most outspoken critics.

Hatloe previously said Olson should spare the council and city staff further embarrassment and resign.

“If I were in his shoes that’s what I would do,” he said.

In addition to the woman’s rape allegation, a judge recently found that Olson violated an agreement that let him seek treatment instead of prosecution after a 2003 drunken driving arrest.

He’s now under court order to stay sober until 2010. Olson was pulled over at the Tulalip Indian Reservation four years ago after he nearly hit a tribal police officer who had stopped another vehicle, documents show.

Olson’s attorney, Bill Bowman, said Wednesday the Cascade District Court ruling is being appealed, and he is confident it will be overturned.

Olson’s troubles have been a source of discomfort for his city council colleagues.

After initially expressing disappointment and saying Olson might have violated his oath of office, Council President Brenda Stonecipher and other council members have muted their criticism.

The silence is based in part on the advice of City Attorney Ned Johnston, who has said the city charter provides no legal mechanism for council members to take action in a case such as Olson’s.

“We’re just still very constrained by the language in the charter,” Stonecipher said.

Councilman Paul Roberts, who previously said it might be appropriate for Olson to step aside, is now keeping mum.

“I don’t think commenting on it puts us in a better spot,” Roberts said. “You’re not going to get a comment on it from me.”

Roberts was appointed to replace Olson on the Sound Transit’s board of directors last month, just ahead of the transit agency’s final push for Proposition 1 — a $17.8 billion roads and transit measure on the November ballot.

Council members have no authority under the city charter to force a fellow member from office. To lose a seat, a council member would have to be convicted of a felony crime “involving moral turpitude,” violate his oath of office or miss three consecutive meetings without excuse, according to the city charter, the city’s constitution.

The council could censure Olson, and strip him of his committee assignments, and has talked about the possibility of a no-confidence motion, but won’t likely take action, Stonecipher said.

“We really don’t see any action available to the council. There are constraints,” said Councilman Drew Nielsen. “I have to tread lightly, because of legal advice that council members have gotten from the City Attorney.”

Councilman Bob Overstreet, who is retiring this year after three decades in office, also made clear that the city is doing its best to avoid potential litigation.

“We’re limited by charter and state law as to what we can do,” Overstreet said. “Rather than get ourselves into a potential quagmire, we have to let this thing kind of work its course.”

Councilman Ron Gipson, who in September tried to block council approval of Olson’s leave of absence, also declined to weigh in this week.

“It’s up to the courts right now,” he said.

The rape investigation is being handled by Skagit County Prosecutor Richard Weyrich. He said Tuesday more investigation is necessary, and it may be two weeks before he makes a decision on whether to file charges.

Weyrich declined to say what he asked investigators to examine.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Janice Ellis asked Weyrich to oversee the investigation in an effort to avoid any potential conflict. Everett police made a similar request, asking the Washington State Patrol to investigate the allegation against Olson.

Herald Writer Diana Hefley contributed to this report. Reporter David Chircop: 425-339-3429 or dchircop@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

HRT Rescue Technician Andy Toyota gives the thumbs-up to crew members in the Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue helicopter shortly before takeoff during an interagency training session held by Northwest Regional Aviation on Thursday, June 13, 2024, at the Arlington Airport in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
From around state, authorities simulate ‘terrorist attack’ in Arlington

Teams from King County, Snohomish County and elsewhere converged for a multi-faceted scenario Thursday at the Arlington Municipal Airport.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Marysville
5 Snohomish County sisters accused of $1M fraud scheme

For two years, the women used online return postage to get gift cards, then returning the physical items to a brick-and-mortar store, charges say.

FILE — Michael Whitaker, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, testifies before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 6, 2024. Whitaker told a Senate panel, on Thursday, June 13, 2024, that changes are being made to the agency’s oversight of Boeing, including conducting more safety inspections. (Anna Rose Layden/The New York Times)
Boeing discloses new quality problem on 787 Dreamliner jets

The issue affects jets built in South Carolina that have yet to be delivered, the company said in a statement.

Alvin Cooper (Photo provided by Marysville School District)
After allegations, Marysville schools’ HR director resigns

Last week, the district’s finance director Lisa Gonzales publicly called for the school board to put Alvin Cooper on leave, citing mismanagement.

Leslie Davis, left, and Lyndsay Lamb, twin sister stars of HGTV's "Unsellable Houses" and 2004 Snohomish High School graduates, donated a private design session to the school's auction fundraiser for their 20-year reunion. (Photo provided)
Got $2,000? Bid on face time with HGTV’s ‘Unsellable Houses’ twins

The sisters are offering up themselves in a fundraiser for their Class of 2004 Snohomish High 20-year reunion.

Everett
Fake gun sends Cascade High School into lockdown

Police detained a suspect with a fake weapon around 12:30 p.m. The lockout was lifted before 1:30 p.m.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.