MONROE — Jim Southworth, the city’s administrator for nearly six years, will lose his job today.
The City Council voted unanimously to terminate Southworth’s contract after a closed-door session earlier this month. Mayor Donnetta Walser called the session to discuss employee performance issues with the potential for litigation.
No explanation was given for the termination.
“It was a combination of things,” Walser said. “We are looking at reorganizing and going in another direction. We’re trying to streamline some things and deliver service in a different way.”
She declined to elaborate. She plans to discuss a candidate for interim city administrator at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Southworth began working as city administrator in May 2002. Before that, he served as a city manager for the city of Toppenish, near Yakima.
“I’ve been doing this for 35 years,” he said. “It’s something that happens periodically to my peers in this profession.”
Southworth said his termination notice came without a cause and he declined to offer one.
He plans to look for other opportunities and take some time off to relax, he said.
Legally, city officials can’t comment on what happened during a closed-door session on personnel matters or disclose why Southworth was fired, City Councilman Mitch Ruth said.
Ruth has known Southworth personally and professionally for half a dozen years.
“Jim is a very experienced, educated professional,” Ruth said. “On a personal level, I like Jim. Professionally, I have much respect for his ability.”
The mayor and the city administrator have not had a relationship that has been “beneficial to the community,” Ruth said.
At least one other time, the mayor asked to authorize termination of the contract with Southworth, but the City Council took no action, Ruth said.
In the past, he said members of the council have questioned Southworth about his management style and how he handled his administrative duties.
“I’m not sure we have all the information,” Ruth said. “We are legislative, not executive.”
The city administrator serves under the direction of the mayor, supervising administrative affairs of the city. The city administrator is responsible for making sure city ordinances and policies are carried out. The administrator helps coordinate business between the City Council and city officers and departments. His duties also include overseeing and supervising city offices, departments, commissions and boards.
Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.