Council votes no confidence in mayor’s leadership

By Brandon Gustafson | Aug 22, 2018
Mukilteo City Councilmember Anna Rohrbough

At the tail end of Monday’s Mukilteo City Council meeting, Councilmember Anna Rohrbough voiced her displeasure with the city’s leadership and led a vote of no confidence in Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

Rohrbough asked Gregerson for an update regarding a receipt from state Sen. Marko Liias, the former Mukilteo’s policy analyst.

Liias took a class at the University of Washington and received $6,355 as part of tuition reimbursement in his severance agreement after his termination in December 2017.

According to the city’s policy, in order for employees to receive tuition reimbursement, they must give a receipt and show a passing grade. In Liias’ severance paperwork, there is no receipt or transcript showing he passed the class.

After the mayor said she hadn’t talked to Liias about this, Rohrbough questioned when Gregerson was going to take responsibility for the misappropriation of funds in severance agreements with past city employees, including Liias, which was brought to the council’s attention by Councilmember Scott Whelpley at the Aug. 6 meeting.

She also wanted Gregerson to apologize to Management Services Director Steve Edin for seemingly blaming him for the way Liias’ severance agreement was worded.

Gregerson apologized for how that moment was interpreted, and Rohrbough said she was tired of seeing the mayor blame others and not taking responsibility for her actions.

“This isn’t where I wanted to be,” Rohrbough said. “You have continually blamed directors and staff.”

Rohrbough made a motion for a vote of no confidence in Gregerson’s leadership.

Rohrbough said Gregerson regularly circumnavigates the process of city government by excluding the City Council from decisions it should be involved in, withholding factual and valuable information in order to serve her personal agenda, manipulating the truth and lies on record, and using department directors and city employees “as a screen, blaming them for the decisions you are ultimately required to make.”

Whelpley seconded the no-confidence motion.

Council Vice President Christine Cook said she understood the frustrations of her fellow councilmembers, but wasn’t sure if they should make the decision of no confidence so late in the evening.

Councilmember Richard Emery agreed with Cook regarding the timing.

“This seems like a big decision that requires a lot of thought,” he said.

Whelpley, who uncovered multiple severance packages signed off by Gregerson that went against the city’s policy and brought them forward at the Aug. 6 meeting, said he is disappointed with the governmental process in Mukilteo and some of his fellow councilmembers for seemingly supporting the mayor’s behavior.

“There has been no adult supervision, and now we have to do it,” Whelpley said.

Whelpley said he has had enough of the way the city has been running.

“I’ll resign right now,” he said. “If it takes my resignation to prove a point, I’ll do it.”

After further discussion, the motion went to a vote, and passed 4 votes to 2.

Rohrbough, Whelpley, Cook, and Council President Steve Schmalz voted in favor of the motion while Emery and Councilmember Bob Champion voted against it. Councilmember Sarah Kneller was not present.

Gregerson said she hopes to move forward now that the council has voiced their opinions and concerns.

“Now that the council has expressed their views, I hope everyone can work together to focus on what matters most: providing excellent city services, ensuring public safety and planning for the future of the waterfront,” Gregerson said in an email to The Beacon. “This is an important time for our community, and they deserve our focus on these important issues.”

During discussion on the motion, Cook asked the city’s attorney about the implications of a vote of no confidence.

There are not, she said, but added that the vote seemed to be a political statement on the part of the council.



Comments (3)
Posted by: Joe Kunzler | Aug 22, 2018 12:17

I won't be riding to Mayor Gregerson's rescue on this one..........................


The fact the "no confidence" motion was submitted by a female Councilmember was a smart move.


Enough said until I see the video.

Posted by: Joe Kunzler | Aug 24, 2018 11:58

Saw the video, really hope both the Council & Mayor can work things out and have a more productive, truthful working relationship.  Soon.


Serious business ahead: Comments on Paine Field Passenger Terminal, annual budget, potential new Community Transit drama ahead, et al...

Posted by: Paul Marshall | Aug 27, 2018 22:09

Thanks to council members Cook, Rohrbough, Smaltz and Whelpley for their courage to publicly confront what appears to be fiscal mismanagement in the city. How, and on what, our elected officials spend public monies should be important to all of us. As taxpayers we rely on the mayor and the city council to be good stewards of city revenues - to spend our money wisely, and in accordance with established policy. It now seems clear that a majority of our current city council concurs with that philosophy. And, since this issue arose (at least in part ) on the severance package gifted to Senator Liias, I wonder why was he hired by the city in the first place, and at who's urging? Did Liias actually provide an essential service to our city; a service that our existing, talented city staff could not? If his performance as our state senator in the Mukilteo Japanese Gulch grant debacle, I suspect the answer is, no.

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