As Investigation Looms, Mayor Cassie Franklin Says She’s Focused On Everett, Washington

February 27, 2023

Everett Government

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin at an Everett City Council meeting on December 14th, 2022 issuing her first-ever veto.

On Wednesday February 15th the Everett City Council went into Executive Session at the end of their regular meeting to discuss what City Attorney David Hall said was a legal matter under RCW 42.30.110 (i) subsection (iii) which is linked here..
 
At the end of that Executive Session the Everett City Council voted unanimously on a motion to direct the Council President to enter into a contract with Stokes Lawrence and Amy Kangas Alexander to conduct an investigation to determine whether a personal relationship between the Mayor and a city employee violates any laws or policies and to investigate whether there was any misuse of city resources or other malfeasance related to that relationship.

The Council has retained Lisa Marshall of Kenyon Disend, PLLC of Issaquah, Washington as outside legal counsel to oversee the work. The motion was moved forward by Councilmember Liz Vogeli and seconded by Councilmember Paula Rhyne.

In a press release issued immediately following the meeting by Everett City Council President Brenda Stonecipher the relationship in question was identified as being between the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The press release included the following:

Of the action, Stonecipher said “I concur with the advice of our outside legal counsel to make further inquiries about the circumstances and details of the personal relationship between the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. I hope and expect this work will reveal no wrongdoing, but I do believe it is our obligation as elected officials to ensure that government is operating effectively and lawfully. This is vital to preserve and protect our community’s faith in the integrity of our municipal government.”
The action came after the Councilmembers recessed to attend a private executive session. All seven Councilmembers were present for the vote, which was unanimous.
“There is no firm timeline on this investigation,” says Stonecipher, “we will follow the advice of our legal counsel and allow the process to unfold as it must.”

 

One thing the Press release did not include nor has been mentioned publicly by the City of Everett is what exactly are the specific allegations against the Mayor and who made those allegations?

This weekend MyEverettNews.com spoke with Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin about the allegations. In agreeing to talk with us Cassie Franklin stated the following.

“I am happy to talk about my professional life but I will not talk about my personal life,” Franklin said. “A lot of people go through separation and divorce, it’s a normal thing many people go through.”

Franklin continued, “To my knowledge, no single complaint has been filed against me,” she said. “In September 2022 I checked with the Human Resource Director at the City of Everett and confirmed that there was no city policy against having a consensual relationship of any kind between two city employees and in the winter I checked again with H.R. and also the City’s legal department and received the same answer.”

I mentioned to Mayor Franklin that while there may be no technical rule against a relationship between two people working for the City it can lead to an appearance of impropriety to the citizens who are paying the salaries of those involved.

“I’m going to conduct myself as I have,” Franklin told me. “Again I am not aware of any actual complaint against me and I’m proud of the work I’ve done as Mayor for the last five years and the work my entire team is doing as we navigate the City through a structural deficit, Pandemic, staff shortages, public safety, housing and all it takes to run the City.”

I asked Mayor Franklin if she felt the action taken by the City Council was politically motivated?

“As Mayor and City Council our role is to advance the priorities of the City,” she said. “In Everett, we have a strong Mayor form of Government in which the Mayor is the chief executive of the city, responsible for running the city on a day to day basis and making the administrative decisions which at times has led to friction between the administration and council members.” She added, “I have not seen any formal complaint against me, just the council deciding to actually spend public funds to investigate my personal life without any specific complaint. I find the idea I have misused public funds in my operation of the administration offensive.”

In December Mayor Franklin issued a rare veto over an ordinance passed by the Everett City Council regarding requiring Project Labor Agreements. It was the first time in years an Everett Mayor has vetoed council-driven legislation.

Since Everett went to City Council Districts in 2022 and four new Everett City Council members were seated there have been public push-backs by some City Council members on the role of councilmembers in establishing public policies for Everett, Washington. As we approach March 1st the Everett City Council has not formally adopted their roles on council committees for 2023.

Editor’s Note: As Mayor Franklin said, the City of Everett has a Strong-Mayor form of Government. All elected offices in the City of Everett are non-partisan. According to nonprofit Ballotpedia a Strong-Mayor form of Government is:

Strong mayor-council
The mayor is the city’s chief executive, while the council is the city’s primary legislative body. The general characteristics of strong mayor-council governments are as follows:[3]

The mayor may appoint and remove departmental heads.
The mayor drafts and proposes a budget to city council.
The mayor possesses veto or line-item veto power.
The mayor officially represents the city on the state, national and international levels.
The mayor exercises oversight of the city’s day-to-day operations.
The mayor enforces city laws and ordinances.
The mayor is not a member of city council.

MyEverettNews.com has sent an email to the Everett City Council asking for the council to articulate the actual complaint against the Mayor, who filed that complaint and what prompted the call for an investigation and if there are political underpinnings to the unanimous vote for the investigation.

We’ll pass along the response once it has been received.
 


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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring news and events in Everett, Washington. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett.

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