Snohomish City Council confirms new city administrator

Heather Thomas, the public and government affairs manager for the Snohomish Health District, will start Monday.

Heather Thomas

Heather Thomas

SNOHOMISH — Heather Thomas, the public and government affairs manager for the Snohomish Health District, is Snohomish’s new city administrator.

Snohomish City Council members unanimously confirmed Mayor Linda Redmon’s pick for the top job Tuesday night.

At the advice of other mayors, Redmon said, she decided to appoint Thomas rather than put out a call for applications.

“They told me that as a strong mayor, it is necessary to have someone as a second-in-command who I can trust to be loyal to my priorities and with whom I feel I can work well,” she said. “I know that she will quickly prove herself to the city staff and to the Snohomish community.”

In her seven-year tenure at the Snohomish Health District, Thomas led communications and public policy efforts related to the opioid epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic and public health funding.

She has previously served in communication and project management roles for the city of Kent; the Alexandria, Virginia Sanitation Authority; and city of Oceanside, California.

Thomas told council members she considers herself a “generalist, not a specialist.”

“I know a bit about a lot of things,” she said. “This has served me well in my career and I think it’s an important trait for the city administrator. This position doesn’t need to know which grasses are best for greenspace or how to operate a lift station — though I’ve spent plenty of time around lift stations and treatment tanks. Instead, my job is to make sure that the highly qualified and dedicated staff have the resources that they need to put their skills to best use.”

Council members said they are confident in Thomas’ qualifications for the role.

The authority to terminate employees is vested with the mayor in Washington cities and towns that have the mayor-council form of government.

Former Mayor John Kartak attended the meeting Tuesday. He said he believed Redmon let go current city administrator Steve Schuller “without cause.” Schuller, who started as the city’s Public Works director in 2008, will step down from the role on Friday.

Redmon said while working with Thomas at the health district over the past few years she has admired her ability to perform under pressure and connect with “marginalized members of the community.”

Thomas will start on Monday at a monthly salary of $12,318, and is to make $13,581 by 2024.

Thomas’ administrator compensation is comparable to that in other Snohomish County cities with similar populations. Stanwood listed its starting city administrator salary at $11,374 per month in 2021, and Monroe’s city administrator salary starts at $12,233.

“I lead from heart,” Thomas said. “But please don’t mistake that for being weak or that I’m coming in with rose-colored glasses — I get things done and I make transformative projects happen.”

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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