Stanwood mayor resigns, vacancy to be filled by city council member

Citing COVID and ongoing projects, the city council won’t accept citizen applicants for the opening.

Leonard Kelley

Leonard Kelley

STANWOOD — Following a surprise resignation earlier this week, the Stanwood City Council decided Thursday night that the city’s next mayor will come from their own ranks.

Mayor Leonard Kelley resigned on Monday with 18 months remaining in his term.

“Due to health concerns and at the advice of my physician I find it necessary to resign from my position as mayor,” Kelley said in his resignation letter Sunday night. “This decision comes with a heavy heart but I am grateful for the time I got to serve the city of Stanwood.”

In a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, the city council decided the parameters for filling the mayoral vacancy. Most importantly, only members of the council may apply.

“With everything that is going on with COVID and those types of things, I think with all the projects that are going on in Stanwood, I think it would be wisest if we kept it within the council at this point,” Councilmember Timothy Pearce said during the meeting.

Citing the burden on city staff of a newcomer as mayor, a motion to allow city residents not already on the council to apply failed 4-3. Councilmembers Rob Johnson, Elizabeth Callaghan and Steve Shepro were in favor of the losing proposal.

Councilmembers have until 5 p.m. July 19 to file for the vacancy. Candidates will be allowed five minutes during the July 23 city council meeting to share about themselves, then the council will choose Stanwood’s next mayor.

Those vying for the position will be asked to recuse themselves during the selection process. The council will then be tasked with appointing a member of the community to fill the vacated council position.

Kelley told The Herald he hopes to be remembered as someone who worked hard for the citizens of Stanwood. He spoke proudly of programs instituted during his tenure to help businesses in the community.

“I really think I helped in changing the relationship between the city and business,” Kelley said. “It wasn’t very good when I took over, and I feel pretty confident that it is much better now.”

Councilmember Dianne White, mayor of Stanwood from 2006 to 2013, assumed the role of mayor pro tem on Monday when Kelley’s resignation went into effect at 9 a.m.. She will remain in the part-time position until a new mayor is chosen.

“I just wish I could’ve finished out my term,” Kelley said.

Following six years on the city council, Kelley successfully ran for mayor of Stanwood in 2013 and was reelected to serve a second term in 2017.

Kelley also served on the Community Transit board of directors implementing policy, approving budgets and setting goals for the transit agency. In 2018, he was elected chairman of the board.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448;; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to

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