MARYSVILLE — When Mayor Dennis Kendall was asked on Tuesday why he decided to resign, he paused.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “I guess it’s just one of those gut things where you feel like now is the time.”
Kendall announced at the Marysville City Council meeting Monday night that he would leave office in August. The City Council immediately voted 7-0 to appoint Councilman Jon Nehring to fill the remainder of Kendall’s term, through the end of 2011. The announcement and the appointment of Nehring were not on the meeting agenda.
Nehring has served as mayor pro-tem in Kendall’s absence in the past.
Kendall will remain in office until Aug. 2 to help with the transition, he said.
Kendall, 67, was elected mayor in November 2003 and has served six and a half years in the job. He had already retired from his job in sales for Crown Photo Systems of Marysville, a company that is now out of business.
He said he recently lost an older brother, a nonsmoker, to lung cancer. He earlier lost another brother to a heart attack.
Kendall has had two precautionary stents placed in arteries and has type II, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, as do other members of his family, he said. He is one of 16 children.
His health, however, is good, he said.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I thought maybe I better start enjoying my retirement.”
During Kendall’s tenure, Marysville’s population rose from 28,370 to 58,040, largely through annexations. Marysville’s boundaries also crossed over to the west side of I-5 to include a new shopping center in the Lakewood area.
Kendall said that growth, both in population and business base, is his greatest achievement.
Kendall used his sales background to serve as an ambassador for Marysville, city public works director Kevin Nielsen said.
“Dennis had a really proactive style of going out and attracting businesses to Marysville,” Nielsen said. “He let the management team do their jobs and he performed the duties of the mayor. He went out and brought attention to Marysville at the state level, federally, locally.”
Kendall has served on many boards and commissions, including a term as president of the Community Transit board of directors.
“I would call him a leader,” said City Councilwoman Donna Wright, who has held office for 19 years. “He was kind of like a cheerleader, saying, ‘This is something we can do,’ and found ways to do it. He was very congenial and worked well with partnerships, the other cities, the tribes. That’s what I respect about him so much.”
Stan Jones Sr., former chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, said Kendall always worked well with the tribes.
“We always appreciated him,” he said.
Kendall said the one thing he hoped to accomplish, but didn’t, is the building of a manufacturing and jobs base in the city.
A couple of years ago, Marysville set aside the mostly undeveloped north end of the city for light industry.
In 2004, the city tried to lure an auto-racing track to that area before NASCAR decided against building in the state. In 2007 and 2008, the city wooed the University of Washington to build a branch campus there. The economic downturn put that plan on indefinite hold. If it weren’t for the recession, Kendall believes, the Smokey Point area would have grown even more by now.
“I wanted people to live here, shop here, play here and work here,” he said. “We have the people here and they would appreciate not driving to south Everett or to Seattle to work every day.”
Kendall lauded his staff and praised the choice of Nehring as his successor. He feels he’s leaving the city in good hands for the future, which includes plans for an eventual new city hall and downtown revitalization.
As for himself, he said he’s ready to direct his enthusiasm into being retired.
“I don’t want to be known as the person who was ‘gonna’ and never did it,” he said.