The Edmonds Center for the Arts was filled Thursday night with well-wishers who gathered to say good-bye to Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson, who is leaving the city Friday to become Snohomish County Deputy Executive.
Haakenson, who has served as the city’s mayor since 2000, was feted by City of Edmonds employees, numerous elected officials, family and friends, who thanked him for his contributions and recalled some of the more humorous and touching moments during his time serving the city’s 40,000 residents. Also recognized was Haakenson’s wife, Dolly, for graciously representing the city at numerous events, and for putting up with demands of being a political spouse.
Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan entertained the crowd with stories of the mayor’s appearance at crime and fire scenes, sometimes arriving there before police officers or firefighters. Compaan drew howls of laughter when he described the time that Haakenson took control of a police cruiser during a black bear sighting in Edmonds, and the police chief presented the outgoing mayor with his own set of police gear and an honorary badge.
All those who spoke talked about Haakenson’s affection and support for City of Edmonds employees, and his numerous appearances at ribbon cuttings, school functions, meetings, city events and other public appearances.
“He was simply never off duty when it came to Edmonds,” said former Edmonds Fire Chief Tom Tomberg, now with Snohomish County Fire District No. 1.