Granite Falls fills council seat with past appointee

By Leslie Moriarty

Herald Writer

GRANITE FALLS — It appears there isn’t an empty seat on the city council after all.

Even though the city clerk issued a notice seeking applications for the vacancy, the council is continuing to allow someone it previously appointed to do the job.

Phil Dockendorff, who held the seat prior to the Nov. 6 election, was still sitting there Wednesday and voting on matters facing the council.

But that decision doesn’t sit well with the man who lost the election.

Voters in Granite Falls chose Heather Buchholz over Richard Smith for the position Nov. 6. But a canvassing board for the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office ruled she was ineligible because her main residence is outside the city.

So city clerk Gerry James issued a news release seeking applicants for the vacant position. But apparently city attorney Cheryl Beyer disagreed with that approach.

Beyer declined comment to The Herald Wednesday or Thursday, but issued a memo to the other council members Wednesday. She would not make the memo public, saying it was a confidential matter between council members and their attorney.

However, at Wednesday’s council meeting, Dockendorff took his seat and cast votes on agenda matters.

Meanwhile, Smith, who was narrowly defeated by Buchholz, had indicated he was still interested in the council seat. He said Thursday that he plans to go to the council meeting Jan. 23 to ask the council why it didn’t open up the position.

Smith said he thinks voters didn’t get a say, because almost half the votes cast were for him.

At the end of the meeting Wednesday, when it was Beyer’s turn to give her report, she told council members that they had her memo regarding the council seat and unless they saw a reason to do something different, Dockendorff would remain on the council.

Beyer would only say Wednesday that her memo outlined the options the council had, and it was up to the council to decide what to do. She refused to tell The Herald whether she had made a recommendation.

Last week, Beyer and James said they were waiting for a ruling from the auditor’s office on whether Dockendorff should serve. But officials in the auditor’s office said they didn’t plan to give legal advice.

Dockendorff, who was appointed to the seat months earlier, didn’t run for the position.

Dockendorff said Wednesdayhe will serve as long as the council wants him to. He said he didn’t run because of health concerns that have since been resolved.

You can call Herald Writer Leslie Moriarty at 425-339-3436

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