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Pacific City Council to pick a new mayor next week

City Council President Leanne Guier assists Pacific Mayor Cy Sun during an early City Council meeting. Sun trails in a recall election, which will become official Tuesday. - Reporter file photo
City Council President Leanne Guier assists Pacific Mayor Cy Sun during an early City Council meeting. Sun trails in a recall election, which will become official Tuesday.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

The question of what's next for Pacific should be answered next week when the City Council chooses a new mayor for the next two years, once results of the recall of current Mayor Cy Sun become official.

In the King County Elections' last update on June 26, Sun trailed in the recall tally, 941 (65.3 percent) votes to 500 (34.7).

According to sources at City Hall, Sun tried to turn in his keys and resign last week. Sun is said to be in the process of preparing a transition memo, providing information on what projects he has been working on and where they are in the process.

His attempt to turn in keys was refused, according to the source.

Sun has not returned emails from the Auburn Reporter requesting comment.

Once recall results are certified Tuesday, Mayor Pro Tem James McMahan will officially become the mayor, City official said.

"But what does that look like after that?" City Council President Leanne Guier said at last Monday's workshop. "It's been made very clear by Councilmember McMahan that he does not want to remain mayor in the long term."

McMahan said he doesn't intend to serve as mayor beyond next Friday because of prior commitments to work and family.

"The ability for me to be around just isn't there," McMahan said.

That means the council will have to move fast to select a new mayor to serve out the remainder of Sun's term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2015.

At the workshop much of the discussion was focused on the selection process and whether to open it up to the public.

According to state law, the council is at liberty to appoint whomever it wishes as the new mayor, either from the general public or from among the council ranks.

Councilmember Clint Steiger cautioned against opening the process to public applicants, warning that a quick decision without proper investigation of the candidates could be disastrous to the City as it recovers from the previous administration.

"It will not work to open it up to the public and have one or two days to try and scramble," Steiger said. "The only thing you're going to do is offend a bunch of people because you're not really going to look at those people. You're just doing it now because you think maybe you should do it to make them happy.

"But really you're not going to look at those people," he continued. "You can't look at them and do your job properly because you won't have any idea about their political background or what they know about government. You can't find enough about a person in just a few days."

The council will decide on whether to open the selection process to the public at Monday's City Council meeting.

Councilmember Tren Walker, who said he was in favor of allowing the public to apply for the mayor position, was satisfied that the public would get its say on the issue at the meeting.

"People are free to submit their applications," Walker said. "Monday night we can discuss it as a council, and we have the ability to hear public comment. If the discussion gets out there, people can come and weigh in on what their preference is, and then the council can vote either way."

After the details are hammered out Monday night, the council will continue its meeting Tuesday night to begin the actual selection process. A continuation to Thursday night also is possible, if the council is unable to come to a consensus.

"It would only be for the purpose of selecting the next mayor," Councilmember Joshua Putnam said.

And hopefully, by the time the city celebrates its annual Pacific Days festival next weekend, a new mayor will be in place, Guier said.

"We would have the opportunity for the new mayor and council to come together on a united front to put the city back on its feet and move as a community forward and put things back on track," she said. "What better opportunity than to do that at our community event?"

The council also will decide on Monday whether to accept a pair of interlocal agreements for help in the transition. A proposal to accept assistance from neighboring Auburn with clerical, public works and information technology services will be voted on. All will come at a full-cost recovery rate, including basic salary and benefit costs.

The Auburn City Council authorized Mayor Pete Lewis to negotiate the terms of the agreement with Guier at its regular meeting last Monday. The agreement is expected to last no longer than three years after it is signed. An agreement with King County to help out with the City's financial books also is expected to be on the agenda.

According to Guier, the council has no idea of the financial status of the City. "We have not turned in our year end that was due on May 31," she said.

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