By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
According to a City of Mill Creek news release, on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, Councilmember Sean Kelly contacted City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto to notify her he would “tender his resignation from the Council” and “reimburse the City for salary received for the months of August through November.”
Kelly’s resignation is due to the efforts of Carmen Fisher, his opponent in the 2017 General Election. She successfully challenged the validity of his Mill Creek voter registration when she discovered he moved out of the city.
During a public hearing on Fisher’s challenge, Kelly admitted to the Snohomish County Canvassing Board that he moved out of Mill Creek at the end of July. The board subsequently invalidated his Mill Creek voter registration and any pertinent votes he cast in the 2017 General Election.
According to Director of Communications and Marketing Joni Kirk, Polizzotto asked City Attorney Scott Missal to research Washington State and Mill Creek election laws after receipt of the canvassing board’s official ruling the week of November 20th.
It’s unclear why this research wasn’t done when questions regarding Kelly’s residency first surfaced in September.
During the November 28th Mill Creek City Council meeting, Missal said Kelly’s move effectively “vacated” his city council seat at the end of July because he ceased to physically reside within the city. This is why Kelly will be reimbursing the salary he received since the end of July to the city.
However, Missal went on to say the complexity of Washington State election laws make it “impractical and unfair” to fill the vacant seat without a court’s decision or Kelly’s resignation.
The City of Mill Creek’s news release said Kelly’s council seat “will remain vacant for the remainder of 2017 since there is not sufficient time to go through the selection process with only two Council meetings remaining in 2017.”
The big question now is who will serve in Kelly’s spot during the next term beginning on January 1, 2018.
Kelly won a whopping 72 percent of the votes in November’s General Election with Fisher coming in with a distant second place. He was living in Mill Creek when he filed for reelection back in April and for the Primary Election; but wasn’t eligible at the time of the General Election.
Missal said that Washington State election laws were “very complex,” but he believes that a successful election challenge would invalidate the votes Kelly received in the General Election because he was an ineligible candidate, probably giving the seat to the candidate with the second most votes.
He went on to say that any voter registered in the City of Mill Creek could file such a challenge.
At the November 28th city council meeting Fisher announced her intention to challenge the General Election results and said she had completed the necessary paperwork to file in Snohomish County Superior Court.
The city’s news release said, “The Council will not interfere with the legal process by making a premature appointment, and will await the court’s decision (on Fisher’s new challenge).”