Lotmore and his supporters to Liias: Return the money

Republican candidate tells opponent to return severance and tuition reimbursement
By Brandon Gustafson | Nov 07, 2018

As the election season wound down, Mario Lotmore, the Republican candidate for the 21st Legislative District state Senator position in Tuesday’s general election, staged an event outside Mukilteo City Hall with a handful of supporters demanding action from his opponent, Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo.

That message was for Liias to return money he received from the city of Mukilteo in his separation agreement after his role as policy analyst was terminated by the Mukilteo City Council last December during budget discussions.

Liias was one of a handful of employees whose separation agreements were discovered by Councilmember Scott Whelpley via a public records request that did not match the city’s severance policy.

That policy, which was included in Liias’ and other former employees’ employment agreements when starting with the city, showed they would be entitled to two months of payment, paid accordance with the city’s pay schedule, for severance if fired without cause.

In Liias’ case, he received a third month of payment, and was paid in one lump-sum payment.

He was also given $6,355 in tuition reimbursement for courses at the University of Washington despite the city not having a receipt for his coursework, or documentation confirming that he passed the course at the time of receiving his payment. Both the receipt and his transcript have since been presented to the council.

Since his agreement, and others, differed from the city’s policy, the council felt they should have been presented the agreements for approval. The agreements had been approved and signed off by Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

Lotmore and his supporters, in front of City Hall with signs in support of Lotmore, demanded Liias pay back the city.

“Marko, we ask that you do the right thing and return the severance money that you received because it is not your money,” Lotmore said.

Liias responded Monday evening, saying he didn’t see anything regarding Lotmore’s event.

“I haven’t seen much from my opponent, so I can’t speak to his small event,” Liias said. “Maybe he’s getting ready to run for City Council next year? Throughout this campaign, I’ve tried to stay focused on a positive message and not let my opponent or his big money backer, Peter Zieve, drag our campaign into the gutter with them.”

Zieve is the owner of Electroimopact, a Mukilteo aerospace company. He ran unsuccessfully for Mukilteo City Council last year. He was brought to the limelight in 2016 for mailing an anonymous flier opposing the construction of a mosque in Mukilteo.

According to votesmart.org, Zieve has donated $1,000 to Lotmore’s campaign.

Liias said he is proud of his Mukilteo roots, and is happy to represent Mukilteo in the 21st Legislative District.

“Voters have rewarded my positive campaigns in the past with their support, I have hope they will again this year,” he said.

Liias’ severance, along with other former city employees’ separation agreements, have been a hot topic of discussion for the Mukilteo City Council since Whelpley first brought it up at the Aug. 6 meeting.

Since then, the council has voted to approve severance agreements, separation agreements, memorandums of understanding and collective bargaining agreements.

The council has also voted in no confidence of Gregerson’s leadership, and have since approved a motion to allot $10,000 from the 2018 budget to get outside legal help regarding the mayor’s spending and these agreements, as some councilmembers believe Gregerson violated state law.

As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, Liias received 62.80 percent while Lotmore received 36.99 percent.

 

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