Sutton cites ‘total lack of leadership’ in departure from Lynnwood

City Council member Shirley Sutton initially pointed to her health and a desire to return to Yakima. There was more to it, she later acknowledged.

Shirley Sutton

Shirley Sutton

LYNNWOOD — A “total lack of leadership” in city administration led Lynnwood City Council member Shirley Sutton to abruptly resign last week, she said.

Sutton announced her resignation last week, initially citing health issues and an “overwhelming desire” to move back to Yakima where she was raised.

Sutton expanded on her reasoning in an email to The Daily Herald. The council delaying an independent audit into the city’s finances, along with other issues, left her “no other choice than to resign,” Sutton wrote.

At a council meeting Dec. 11, Sutton motioned to bring forward external auditors to examine the city’s finances. The motion passed 5-0.

In March, council Vice President Julieta Altamirano-Crosby said she felt “caught off-guard” and wanted to clarify what the council wished to accomplish through an audit. She motioned to rescind the audit, which the council passed.

“The decision to put off a Financial Audit only solidified my fear that there is more afoot at The City (than) meets the eye,” Sutton wrote. “Without a complete independent audit there is no way The Council can enter into the budget season with any idea as to what they are dealing with.”

She continued: “This, as well as personnel issues, in my judgement the administration has miss-managed, has brought me to a point I can no longer sit with. The failure to replace the planning director, the overmanned administration, the continued churn of the directors, indicates that more than financial problems have beset The City… In the meantime, I no longer can lend my good name to such an organization.”

Sutton did not respond to a request for a follow-up interview.

City spokesperson Nathan MacDonald said the city was “surprised and disappointed” to hear the former council member’s remarks. Her email was a “stark departure” from her original resignation statement, MacDonald said.

“As stewards of public funds, the City of Lynnwood takes the responsibility of seriously maintaining and improving our City’s financial health,” MacDonald said in an email Monday. “That commitment is reflected in the fact that we received a Certificate of Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for the City’s 2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. This is the seventh year in a row that we received this designation.”

The council has 90 days to choose a replacement, per state law. “Any person interested” can apply for the position. The newly appointed person would serve in the seat until November’s election.

Residents can find the application starting Wednesday via the city’s website and social media pages. The deadline is 5 p.m. May 31.

Once the application deadline passes, the council will choose eight applicants for a round of interviews.

Sutton served on the council from 2016 to 2020, and was elected again in 2021.

“We wish Shirley Sutton well in her future endeavors,” MacDonald said.

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037; ashley.nash@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

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