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Pacific voters must decide to blot out Sun | Skager
The words read like prophecy.
Just hours after losing his seat to Pacific Mayor Cy Sun in the November 2011 general election, Richard Hildreth released this statement:
"Although I'm disappointed in losing to negative campaigning and the deception of our citizens, I know that as the truth comes out, the public will see the mistake that was made. I pray that mistake does not prove fatal to our city."
It nearly did.
In less than two years in office, Sun – under the guise of fighting corruption he claims is rampant in city government – put Pacific on life support by dismantling city staff and fighting an ongoing battle that has decimated the City's police force. And his refusal to adequately staff vacant department head positions at City Hall instigated the loss of the City's liability insurance.
Although the City was able to secure costlier, less comprehensive liability insurance at the last minute, the crisis forced the City Council to consider two stark options: cease to exist as a municipality; or annex into neighboring Auburn.
Pacific voters will decide Tuesday whether they made a mistake and whether the damage done to the City under Sun's administration is great enough to recall him, ending his term as mayor less than two years in.
For months now the controversial mayor and the Committee to Recall Cy Sun have fought a pitched battle for the hearts, minds and votes of Pacific residents. And much like the campaign in 2011 that swept Sun, a write-in candidate, into office, negativity has been the main focus of the battle.
In 2011, Sun benefited from a smear campaign – anybodybutrich.com – that focused on Hildreth's alleged misuse of a City-issued credit card. The website, financially backed by local businessman Jerry Eck, claimed Hildreth had misused the card for his personal use and to advance his career in emergency management.
Seizing on the wave of ill will toward Hildreth, Sun ran on a campaign that claimed the city administration was corrupt and he was the man to set the ship right.
Sun won the election with 470 votes to Hildreth's 385, with Councilmember John Jones receiving 302 votes of the 1,205 votes cast in the election.
Although the recall election also focuses on allegations of corruption, the key difference between it and the 2011 race lies in the actual documentation of that corruption.
Despite Sun's nebulous claims of corruption during Hildreth's administration, the Washington State Auditor in February declared the City's books clean.
"The results of our tests disclosed no instances of noncompliance or other matters that are required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards," the report concluded.
Additionally, an outside investigation cleared Hildreth of any charges in "credit card-gate."
In sharp contrast, courts in Pierce and King counties, newspapers and TV stations have documented the actual ineptitude of Sun's administration.
On Tuesday, 2,943 Pacific voters will decide whether Sun should be recalled because of alleged malfeasance, misfeasance and violation of his oath of office in two instances: using the Pacific Police Department as his personal police force by directing it to investigate a matter clearly out of its jurisdiction; and jeopardizing the City's insurance coverage by not filling vacant department head positions.
Unlike the claims made against Hildreth in 2011, the evidence against Sun is overwhelming and well documented.
Now, citizens in Pacific will have a chance to right the wrong done in 2011 and make a well-informed, educated decision on the future of their city.
So get out and vote.