Council discusses political sign spat

  • Jenny Lynn Zappala<br>Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:50am

In a 5-to-2 vote, the Mountlake Terrace City Council on Monday asked Council member Angela Amundson to resign after a Mountlake Terrace man accused her of vandalizing a political sign.

The Mountlake Terrace Police confirmed receiving a report alleging Amundson tore up campaign signs about two weeks ago.

“I can’t comment on a lot on it,” said Mountlake Terrace assistant police chief Mike Mitchell. “We have asked the Edmonds Police Department to do the investigation. We want to show that an impartial organization did the investigation.”

Edmonds Police Sgt. Jeff Jones said Wednesday the investigation remains open.

Amundson, who declined to resign on Monday, described Monday’s meeting as a “big setup, major sabotage.” She did not hear about the incident or the subsequent police investigation until Monday’s Council meeting.

“It is close to an election, it was kind of a nice show,” Amundson said. “Just because two people come in and complain about me, I am not going to resign because of that. You cannot vote somebody off of Council. It was to put on a big show.”

Council member John Zambrano made the motion asking for Amundson’s resignation.

“We have to be responsive to our citizens,” Zambrano said. “I cannot in the public square call the citizen disingenuous. I have to respond to them because I represent them. What they are alleging was not right. It has to be communicated to them (the citizens) that we are willing to discipline ourselves.”

Along with Zambrano, Mayor Jerry Smith and Council members Jamie Gravelle, Laura Sonmore and Michelle Robles supported the motion. Amundson and Doug Wittinger voted against it.

Amundson’s supporters said the Council action was premature and not members’ place to determine the validity of the accusations.

During the Monday meeting, Harold Ketzenbarger of Mountlake Terrace told the Council he watched a woman tear apart a political sign and put up a new sign in September on his family’s rental property. He did not recognize the woman, the large blue car she was driving or a second woman in the car. He did note that the vandalized sign belonged to Michael Jones, Amundson’s challenger, and the new sign belonged to Amundson, he said.

Ketzenbarger said he identified Amundson as the woman he saw after seeing a political advertisement in a newspaper. He said he also recognized Lorayne Ham, who is challenging Mayor Jerry Smith for city council this November, as the second woman in the car because of the advertisement.

“As a citizen of Mountlake Terrace if you expect me to obey the laws and ordinances of the city then you damn well better obey these same laws, not break them,” Ketzenbarger said in a letter to the council. “So, I guess the question is, what are you going to do about this?”

Amundson said she doesn’t own a large blue car or drive around with Ham to repair campaign signs. She said she owns a gray pickup truck. She does recall waving at the man once during her rounds, but she said she just repairs signs for herself and her allies, including Ham.

“(Ham and I) don’t know anything about it primarily because it never happened,” Amundson said. “It couldn’t have happened because Ms. Ham and I do not do signs together.”

Ham, in a call to The Enterprise, said she was not involved.

Zambrano said it was an uncomfortable situation because Council members made lofty remarks in August about holding city board and commission volunteers to the same high standards of conduct as the Council.

This summer, residents accused Eric Teegarden, a Council candidate and volunteer city board member, of making disparaging remarks about his opponent’s signs. Teegarden resigned from the city’s community policing advisory board before the Council officially addressed the matter, Zambrano said.

The investigation and the general election will go forward, but Zambrano sees the vote as the end of the Council’s role, he said.

“The subject is closed,” Zambrano said. “We asked the councilwoman to resign. Her decision was no. We let the people decide.”

Amundson said she is moving forward regardless of the no-confidence vote. She noted that she is often on the Council minority, joined by Wittinger.

“I am moving on as if everything is the same,” Amundson said. “I do not expect this will become much of an issue because it is a non-issue to begin with. There is not a shred of reality to it. (The Council) did not like individuals on Council who ask questions. That is the bottom line. And I think inquiring minds want to know.”

Talk to us

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.