At the Feb. 20 Snohomish City Council meeting, Mayor John Kartak announced his appointment of Steve Schuller to the position of city administrator. Mr. Schuller is knowledgeable, experienced and well-respected, and most people agree that he is a good choice.
However, upon making this announcement, Mayor Kartak revealed that he sought input from a small, exclusive group of individuals, including at least one private citizen who (presumably) does not hold an elected or employed position at city hall. Mayor Kartak refuses to reveal who was on this advisory panel and also refuses to explain the process he followed in making his decision. To defend his actions, Kartak stated that this hiring decision was personal, and his use of these advisers “wasn’t for the benefit of anyone but myself.”
This particular decision may be sound, but what about those to come? Is the council simply expected to approve the mayor’s appointments and decisions without all of the relevant information? Is this really more democratic than our former, collective, council-manager system?
Kartak championed Proposition 2 (which resulted in our now “strong mayor” government and his subsequent election) as a means for the community to have a greater voice in leadership and an end to what he characterized as “back room deals.” Sadly, the exact opposite is happening. For someone who ran on a platform of transparency and representation, Mayor Kartak’s words and actions are anything but.
Alyson Knappe Davis