City Council confirms City Hall Advisory Committee

During its meeting on Monday night, the Mountlake Terrace City Council confirmed its selection of the City Hall Advisory Committee discussed during Thursday’s meeting.

That committee consists of the following nine Mountlake Terrace residents: Stephen Barnes, Dustin DeKoekkoek, Chris Finch, Maggie Hyneman, Stan Lake, Rory Paine-Donovan, Linda Rogers, Vic Sood and Eiya Wolfe.

The council came to this selection after about an hour of deliberating how to best get an accurate representation of the city’s residents, making sure to include long-time residents, newer residents, women and people who had voted “no” on previous City Hall measures.

The committee was confirmed in a 5-1 vote Monday night, with Mayor Jerry Smith absent and Councilmember Seaun Richards casting the dissenting vote. Richards had left Thursday’s meeting early and said Monday that he was under the impression that the council would select the nine candidates who received the highest scores during the interview process.

Councilmember Doug McCardle explained Monday that during the final deliberations, the nine candidates with the highest scores were determined to not accurately represent the community, lacking dissenting votes and women, among other descriptors. With 15 highly qualified candidates, councilmembers decided to take a closer look at the individuals and the committee as a whole before deciding the nine to be nominated.

The task force is expected to begin meeting in January.

Monday night, those on the task force received the following email from City Spokeswoman Virginia Olson:

Congratulations and thank you for your interest in volunteering on the City Hall Advisory Committee! Tonight, the City Council formally appointed you to serve on the Committee.

Here are the names of the Committee members so you know who will be on the team with you in the coming months. I have attached an unsigned draft resolution that was adopted this evening that names the committee.

ï‚· Stephen Barnes
ï‚· Dustin DeKoekkoek
ï‚· Chris Finch
ï‚· Maggie Hyneman
ï‚· Stan Lake
ï‚· Rory Paine-Donovan
ï‚· Linda Rogers
ï‚· Vic Sood
ï‚· Eiya Wolfe

Tonight, the City Council expressed how difficult the decision was to only select nine members because all 15 candidates interviewed very well and showed great enthusiasm. We hope everyone will stay engaged and involved in the process hope you will encourage your friends and neighbors to do so.

Ultimately, the Council thought this committee had a good representation of male and female perspectives, historical and new viewpoints, some specialized skills in construction/engineering/finance, involvement in previous campaigns for and against City Hall proposals, and the individuals would serve as positive and professional representatives in working with the community on this project.

Enjoy the holidays and we will be back in touch about scheduling the first meeting that we anticipate will be held in the 2nd or 3rd week of January.

Thank you for volunteering to work on this very important project. We look forward to working with you!

Virginia Olsen, CMC
City Clerk/Community Relations Director

  1. Congratulations to all the candidates chosen. I know you guys will represent the city well and look forward to seeing the fruits of all of your labor.

  2. Ditto-congratulations to the “golden chosen”. This is a step in the right direction by council. I personally don’t know any of the candidates, but have faith that they will work openly with fellow MLT residents in getting our concerns addressed and taking our thoughts back to council. Am not sure why there was a dissenting vote for this process and would like to know more about that. Merry Christmas to all readers of this blog!!!!

    1. Hi Kathy – The dissenting vote was council member Richards. How the process went was the council interviewed all candidates and scored them. Then on the night they made the list of 9 they started the discussion with the candidates ranked by the scores from their interviews. The discussion was a good hour and a half or so but council member Richards had to leave the meeting early. He was under the impression that the 9 candidates chosen would be the ones who received the top 9 scores from the interviews. After council member Richards left the meeting there was a lot of discussion about making sure the committee had enough diversity to represent the voters. For example they wanted to make sure that those with concerns or those who voted no in the past were well represented. Because of this the list of 9 they ended up with weren’t the same as the top 9 scores from the interviews. From my understanding listening to the audio of the meetings that is why council member Richards voted no, because the list chosen was not necessarily the candidates with the top 9 interview scores.

  3. Outrageous costs were not the only reason three ballot measures failed. Active dissembling about the ballot propositions was routine. The current Commission should be charged with the task of reaching an outcome widely perceived as transparent and modest, as promised last Summer if voters approved the Levy Lid Lift.

    With the process described here, the transparency test has already been violated More egregiously, council and their camp followers are so comfortable with their accumulated power they change their own rules on a whim. That is the same arrogance which dug this $5 million dollar budget hole.

    Council didn’t want the most strident “NO” vote on their commission; I understand why I wasn’t in the top nine on any of the scorecards. Nonetheless councilman Richards is correct; the impression left was that the nine top scores would become the commission. So, in faith with the promised transparency, explain who “jumped” the line and why. It may have been discussed for over an hour by council somewhere else, but it wasn’t on December 5th. You can listen; it lasted barely 5 minutes. Why have clouds over the process from the outset?

    In the context of the applicant’s ability to be a team player, interviewees were emphatically reminded that council is the “YES” campaign. The message isn’t getting through that this isn’t a game, but the people’s business. The deck is already stacked with four obvious city insiders in the nine chosen and one bound to be the chairperson. Although council, particularly those of longstanding, do not want to be reminded this is a mess of their own making, facing the ugly truths of how we got here is but the first step to getting out.

    The second is production by a truly independent commission of an easily understood proposition through an easily understood process, all of which reflects the will of a vast majority of citizens. The third is to do every thing possible to make its eventual presentation to the public both honest and transparent. Tests two and three are already in question.

    What I see so far promises more posturing by council and its acolytes around long-ingrained false notions which will inevitably force the process in directions that have limited hope of reaching the desired ballot consensus. I hope I’m wrong.

    1. Len – The discussion was at the December 1st meeting. You can find the audio here: By listening to this discussion I think you can hear the reasons for not just picking the candidates who scored best in the interviews. Two specific concerns were that the candidates that scored best in the interviews were underrepresented by women as well as citizens who opposed or had serious concerns about past ballot measures. The 9 candidates that were chosen much better represent the vast majority of citizens and I know we’re all very eager to start coming up with a solution that does the same.

  4. Hi, Steve and Kathy, thank you for your positive and encouraging comments. Like Dustin, I’m eager to begin working on this project.

  5. You’re correct Dustin that I hear some of the reasoning on that tape which I missed. What is not clear is who the persons who were demoted in order to raise those with other specific characteristics. There is no video and council members are very careful to not mention any names.

    To begin from a foundation of fairness, the actual tabulations should be released and further clarification given as to who ascended and who descended in the council discussion. If the scoring system were nothing more than a departure point, why wasn’t that made clear before the interviews and/or the scoring matrix changed to include those specific characteristics.

    I agree with Seaun Richards dismissal of any other than the original scoring system as unfair as that was what was implicitly promised. It is also clear, no matter your sentiments to the contrary or those of council, that citizens who actively opposed the three previous measures are not represented in proportion to their numbers in the community. If there are four or even three you can identify as having worked to defeat any of the three ballot measures, please share who they are? I only count one.

    I’m sure you understand that I want the work product to be something which is openly derived and fairly presented so that it can pass without having to mount a “NO” campaign. Assuming that, I know you will work assiduously to make the process from here more transparent than it has been so far.

    1. Mr. French, among other things, is arguing that the composition of the advisory committee is unfair or unbalanced because there the committee does not include a proportional makeup of citizens who voted in opposition to previous City Hall propositions on this committee.

      To be consistent, should he not also be arguing that the composition is unfair because women are not represented on the committee in equal proportion to their makeup of the community?

      And, from a personal perspective, could Mr. French not also argue that it is unfair that the City did not specify that it also wanted Mountlake Terrace business and commercial property owners to be represented as well? I was not even permitted to apply, as MLT residency was a requirement stated on the application. I live four miles away, so all I can do is sit back and watch what others decide they are going to do to my property tax bills. SO unfair, I could be thinking.

      And yet I’m not whining about it. The advisory committee is sufficiently small that not everyone can be included who wants to be, and I think the inclusion standards were sufficiently broad as they were, even though representatives I might have liked to see on the committee aren’t there at all.

      Mr. French argues that the City Council, on a “whim”, changed the selection rules. I really doubt it occurred as a sudden, Council-wide impulse, but rather as a result of the Counci’s realization that the scoring system initially used resulted in a non-diverse group of individuals in the top tier. I daresay that if the initial scoring system’s results had created a group of people which did not include an opponent of previous City Hall ballot propositions, Mr. French would be singing a different tune altogether.

      Whatever imperfections might exist in the group of appointees, I believe that the City Council has established a committee with sufficient breadth to do what it has been tasked to do. In fact, my greatest concern, shared on a different local social media platform, is that there are too many members on the committee and too little time to accomplish the tasks. I would digress by suggesting that the advisory committee find a way to meet, informally, prior to the first formal meeting next year in order to shoot some initial ideas around for thought over the next 3-4 weeks. There’s a lot of work to do, and little wrong with a head start.

      The committee will need to work well as a group within a narrow timeframe, and necessarily that means excluding from consideration those who have made reputations for themselves by opposing everything unless the chips fall exactly the way they desire.

      It is increasingly senseless to argue in opposition to something needed by the community because one is unhappy with events that transpired a decade ago. The city of Mountlake Terrace needs a City Hall, and having to pay for one out of operating funds rather through by a bond issue will continue to be a serious budgetary drain. That’s current reality. This problem does not go away if everyone’s efforts result in a ballot proposition that garners less than 60% support come election time. Everyone is aware of that, and OF COURSE the end goal of everyone’s efforts is a project that will pass with 60+%. So, yes, Mr. French, you are at a disadvantage because everyone working toward this wants a standalone City Hall to be the result. Call it a conspiracy for success if you have to call it something.

      Those who might continue to oppose efforts of others based on increasingly irrelevant rationale should expect significant, pointed pushback the next time around. The City needs this, and City Council is making a serious effort to include all points of view, and to be responsive to them, in the current effort.

      As the City is trying something different this time around, perhaps Mr. French could bring himself to do the same, and show some small measure of support for the efforts of Mr. Barnes and Co. That sour grapes shtick is getting rather long in the tooth.

  6. I too would like to congratulate those chosen to serve on this task force and would encourage those not chosen to follow the process in a respectful manner. For those who are on the task force I would I would encourage communicate, communicate, communicate.

    Looking forward to seeing you at public meetings.

    1. I couldn’t agree more about the need for clear, consistent communication and thorough consideration and representation of diverse opinions on the proposed City Hall. From the perspective of being (most likely) the oldest person on this committee and living on modest retirement and Social Security income, I share others’ concerns about affordability and pledge to push for an economical and practical end result. Incidentally, much as I favor mass transit, I voted No on ST3 because I felt the plan needed to go back to the drawing board to be scaled back, as was done with ST2 previously.

  7. We need a new city hall. Virtually everybody gets that simple concept. Maybe its really true this time that “City Council is making a serious effort to include all points of view, and to be responsive to them, in the current effort.” That’s not what I see. Nonetheless, if the current effort leads to a proposition that is openly derived, transparently presented and obviously fulfills the needs of the community at an affordable cost, I will support it. If it doesn’t, I will raise yet another committee to oppose it.

    I am not now and never have been categorically against a new city hall. What I have opposed and still do is any proposition which is not openly derived, fairly presented and affordable to the community it serves. I’m not sure how a non-resident determines that the chosen group of residents has “sufficient breadth” which can somehow achieve that goal. I live here and its not clear to me. I do agree that it would be a productive first step to engage the community openly about their likes and dislikes so that a ballot measure already reflects a broad consensus. That has not been the approach in any of the three previous efforts.

    I can’t find anyone who disagrees with this more open approach. Hopefully it doesn’t offend anyone’s sensibilities too greatly to note that the divergence (diversity) between the YES and the NO votes previously had nothing at all to with any other difference than each voter’s view concerning cost, scope and transparency. A path forward beginning in the weeds of diversity training is headed in the wrong direction.

    In order to get to YES more expeditiously in this fourth iteration, isn’t it intuitive that getting more folks involved who were associated with previous oppositions would achieve a balanced product with an overwhelming consensus behind it before it’s presented to citizens. It is not me, but Mr. Kramer who notes, “This problem does not go away if everyone’s efforts result in a ballot proposition that garners less than 60% support come election time.”


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