Update: The Snohomish City Council voted Tuesday evening to schedule the election of a new strong mayor in the city in keeping with Proposition 2, which mandates a change in the structure of the city’s government.
The primary would be in August, the general election in November. Those election dates are months later than originally discussed.
The council also adopted a resolution authorizing hiring a city administrator to help run the city’s day-to-day operations — a job similar to the current city manager. The council tabled until January discussion of what the new mayor would be paid.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
EVERETT — A bid to use the courts to block a mayoral election and other actions related to transforming Snohomish city government was abandoned Tuesday after a judge pointed out some of the effort’s legal flaws.
John Kartak, a supporter of Proposition 2, last week filed a lawsuit without the assistance of an attorney. He sought an injunction to restrain the Snohomish City Council from taking action on resolutions it is considering as it prepares to transform the city to a strong-mayor form of leadership.
The council was expected to consider those actions Tuesday evening.
Kartak and other backers of Proposition 2 contend that the council is moving too quickly to schedule an election for mayor. They also object to resolutions that would set the new mayor’s salary and give that person the option of hiring a city administrator.
After reviewing Kartak’s pleadings, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Linda Krese said she didn’t know what he wanted her to do.
The lawsuit sought an injunction against city officials but didn’t name them as parties. Instead, it listed Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel as the defendant.
Kartak, a building contractor, acknowledged he was out of his depth.
“I’m not familiar with all these processes,” he said.
He asked the court to “essentially put the brakes on” the City Council from taking action related to the proposition.
“You are trying to restrain the city, but you didn’t name the city, correct?” Krese asked.
When Kartak said he’d received advice from others to list the auditor, the judge was not persuaded. She told him the request for injunction couldn’t be granted as filed.
“I would say we have to end this then,” he said. “I don’t know what the proper term is.”
Kartak then asked for a five-minute break, during which he conferred with other Proposition 2 backers. Kartak told the judge that what he wanted was a 21-day injunction to block the auditor from scheduling a mayoral election.
That’s not what the pleadings said, however, and the judge said she couldn’t move forward without proof that the auditor had been properly served.
She granted Kartak’s motion to dismiss.
Although Mayor Karen Guzak and two council members were present and represented by a city attorney, the judge said the city didn’t need to sign the dismissal order because they had not been made parties to the case.
A recount last week showed Proposition 2 passed by 11 votes. All seven City Council members originally voted against the change from a council-manager system to a strong-mayor government.
Last week, the council members pledged to follow the law and take steps to enact the change.
City staff have recommended the strong mayor’s annual salary be set at $18,000 based on comparing pay for mayors with similar duties at comparable cities around Washington. Proposition 2 backers say that is much too low. They also object to establishing a city administrator position, a job that would be similar in pay and duties to the current city manager. Council members backing the city administrator idea say it would be up to the new mayor to decide whether that position should be filled.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.