Edmonds City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to retain the Edmonds Municipal Court and turn the judgeship into an elected rather than appointed position.
The recommendations were made by Judge Douglas Fair, who was appointed to the bench by Mayor Gary Haakenson in the wake of Judge James White’s resignation this past summer over wrongdoings related to his legal practice.
Fair presented to the council the pros and cons of Edmonds becoming part of the district-court system or remaining responsible for Edmonds cases and to the citizens of Edmonds. The council generally agreed a local court provides greater flexibility, accountability and consistency as it is overseen by only one judge.
The municipal-court judge post always has been an appointed one in Edmonds. Fair suggested the perception of independence of the judiciary is strengthened with an elected judge on the bench, a concept with which the council agreed.
Fair’s appointment to fulfill White’s four-year term will expire at the end of this year. At that time, the mayor will reappoint Fair or appoint another judge to the post. The first election for an Edmonds Municipal Court judge will take place in 2009, for a term to begin in 2010.
In other business, the council approved Tuesday night adoption of an ordinance to create a new Master Planned Office and Residential Zone.
Opposing the zone, which was designed to accommodate development in transitional areas or where there are unique site constraints, were Dave Orvis, Deanna Dawson and Michael Plunkett.
Supporting it were council president Richard Marin, Peggy Pritchard Olson, Jeff Wilson and Mauri Moore.
The special zone originally was created in response to a request for accommodation of a residential-office project on the south end of Sunset Avenue. The project will have to go through all processes and gain all approvals required of a master-planned project before it can proceed, according to the Edmonds Development Services Department.