Edmonds mayor leaving to become Snohomish County Deputy Executive

Updated at 2:30 p.m. Here’s the press release issued by the Mayor’s office Wednesday morning, which includes more detail on the Mayor’s background and the process for filling his seat:

Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson will leave his position as mayor on July 2 to fill the role of Deputy County Executive with Snohomish County.

County Executive Aaron Reardon made the offer on May 28, and Gary will begin with the County on July 6. Gary made the announcement last night at the Edmonds City Council meeting.

“This is an exciting opportunity to work with the County Executive and County employees,” Gary said. “I’m grateful to Executive Reardon for the offer and look forward to working with him to meet the countywide challenges.”

Gary has served as Edmonds mayor for 11 years. He became mayor in January 2000 and was re-elected to a second term beginning in 2004 and a third term beginning in 2008. Prior to that he served on the Edmonds City Council for four years, from 1996 through 1999.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my 15 years of association with the City of Edmonds,” Gary said. “My heartfelt thanks to City employees for their hard work and dedication to Edmonds residents. I also want to thank the citizens for their overwhelming support to me as mayor these past 11 years.”

In addition to his position as mayor, Gary also serves as chair of the SNOCOM board and the Snohomish Emergency Radio System (SERS) board. He is on the executive board as the mayor-at-large for Snohomish County Cities.

“I look forward to continuing working with all the Snohomish County elected officials as we strive to move the County forward in these challenging economic times,” Gary said.

Gary spent most of his career in the retail field. He managed several departments for JC Penney, and later co-founded Everett-based Zumiez, a national retail clothing chain that currently has 389 stores.

Gary is a Northwest native, having grown up in the Seattle area. He attended Blanchet High School and Seattle University, where he received a degree in business administration. He is married to Dolly, and they have two married sons, Brett and Bryan. Gary and Dolly became grandparents in 2006. Brett and his wife Mandy have two daughters, Matea and Dahlia. Bryan and his wife Jenn have two sons, Alex and Sam.

Gary is 62 years old and has been an Edmonds resident for 25 years.

The City Council will appoint an individual to complete the remaining 18 months of Gary’s term, through December 2011. Any Edmonds resident who is a registered voter and has lived in Edmonds for one year or more is eligible to apply. Details, deadline information, and an application will be available soon on the City’s website at www.ci.edmonds.wa.us.

Posted at 8:00 a.m.: Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson announced to the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night that he is stepping down as mayor and will become the new Deputy Snohomish County Executive. Although My Edmonds News learned about the resignation during Tuesday’s meeting, we complied with Haakenson’s request that the information be withheld until he had a chance to tell his own staff, which occurred during an all-city employee meeting at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Haakenson, in his third term as Edmonds mayor, had already stated that he wouldn’t run again He said that Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon recruited him for the post, and that Reardon offered him the job last Friday. While Haakenson will stay in the mayor’s office until the end of June, he faces a busy transitional month. Shortly after meeting with Edmonds employees, for example, he was scheduled to drive to Everett to meet his new county staff.

“I’ve always been asked what I’m going to do when I’m done being mayor, and my answer has always been, something will come along,” Haakenson told the council Tuesday. “And this time, it came along maybe not at the best time, but opportunities come when they come. ” Haakenson said the decision to take the county job, left vacant with the resignation of Mark Soine in April, wasn’t related to the City Council’s decision last week to deny him a pay raise. But he indicated that the general tone of recent city council meetings had taken their toll, and that he was looking forward to the new challenge.

The Edmonds Council — which is already searching for a replacement to fill a vacant council seat — will now be charged with also finding someone to fill the remaining 18 months of Haakenson’s term. The interim mayor doesn’t need to be a councilmember, Haakenson noted. It can be any registered voter who has lived in Edmonds for at least a year.

  1. A great loss for the city of Edmonds and its citizens, his departure will certainly leave a void of leadership. I was fortunate enough to have worked with Mayor Haakenson, first as a city employee and then as a councilmember, he is an incredibly talented leader and most of all, a great person and friend to all. I know the citizens and city staff will certainly miss his leadership at the city, his knowledge of the issues facing the community and his tireless efforts to work on behalf of the best interests of all. County Executive Reardon made a very wise choice to bring Gary on board and I know the County will benefit greatly from his addition to their ranks. My best wishes to Mayor Haakenson and his wife in his new and most assuredly less stressful endeavor.

  2. Just a comment on the Integrity of MyEdmondsNews editor, Teresa Wippel. She was at the council meeting last night where the Mayor asked bloggers not to post the announcment until after he had met with City employees this morning.

    Given the opportunity to get out a real “scoop” Ms. Wippel decided that it was more important for the Mayor to be able to talk to his employees on person than for her to benefit from the scoop.

    I am impressed with her integrity. Few others would have been able to resist.

  3. I concur with Jeff Wilson. I too have had the pleasure of working with Gary and have the highest regard for the man’s integrity. It’s a shame what the council has done to the political environment in Edmonds. I wish Gary the best of luck and will sorely miss his presence and leadership. Great choice Mr. Reardon!

  4. I’m happy for Gary and Snohomish County but sad for the people of Edmonds. I’ve lived in Edmonds for the past 29 years and in the area for 57. Of all the Edmonds Mayors I’ve known, Gary was the most personable. When He had his shop in downtown Edmonds there wasn’t a time that he was to busy to stop and talk. As mayor, when my neighbor had a problem, he came up to their house and took care of it, He cares for Edmonds and I think he set a great example for all of us to follow. Gary, please keep posting your pictures.

    Harry, I have to agree with you on Teresa. She had every opportunity to scoop everyone but she followed the request of the Mayor. I was sitting behind Teresa last night and I want to give her a big kudos for her integrity.

  5. I am a citizen of Edmonds who, unlike Jeff and Tod, has observed Mayor Haakenson mostly from a distance. Yet I too have always been impressed with the high quality of leadership he brought to the office. His friendliness, confidence, and integrity also made him a great representative of our city. His ability to maintain his composure and restraint during public hearings and input from his regular critics always gave him the edge. Never has Edmonds had such a visible and accessible mayor. Like others I have talked with today I understand and applaud Aaron Reardon’s selection, but I am not feeling nearly as comfortable with having this particular city council naming Gary’s replacement.

  6. He might as well take that job the other guy that had it was getting $161 grand a year, I not sure how long the job will last but thats more money than he is getting now. If the city doesn’t have a levy in place the mayor is going have to lay off a lot of people or cut programs at any rate it won’t be a popular decision, Somebody offers me a job with substancial more money Im gone too. Its all about money Im not saying thats good or bad but thats the way it is

  7. Mike, I have to disagree. I don’t think Gary really needs the money.

    This is an opportunity for him to move on to the next phase in his life while leaving the current mess that is the Edmonds City Council behind him. He wouldn’t just walk away, but given the right position, I have a feeling he’d leave for my salary.

    This is a challenging time for the whole city and I do not envy the next mayor. Be careful for what you wish for and all that.

    Thanks for all the good work Gary.

  8. No praise here for the editor of this blog who complied with the mayor’s request to delay the release of information presented at a public meeting. My take is that the editor is more concerned about pleasing a departing public official than informing readers. A legitimate news organization would not have agreed to that request.

    1. Thanks for your feedback and I respectfully disagree. News organizations do agree to embargo information if a case can be made by the source there is a reason for doing so. In this instance, the goal wasn’t to please a politician but to allow employees in our community to get information from their boss, rather than the media, first. And in this case, there was no harm to the public at large in delaying the information overnight.

  9. This is a prime example of how “you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. But this time,Tersa, I believe that you pleased 99.9% of us because you clearly did the right thing.

  10. Thanks Teresa, you did the right thing. It was a matter of waiting approximately 12 hours so that Mayor Haakenson could speak to his staff and have them hear the news from him instead of the press. It was the right thing to do for Mayor Haakenson but, more importantly, for the city staff.

    I wish Mayor Haakenson well in his next position with the county but this citizen will miss his leadership, his support and his mentoring.

  11. All true, if the city staff is more important than the people of Edmonds. Apparently they are.

  12. I think Teresa did the right thing by delaying the story. Gary asked nicely, and she respected his request on the merits. No harm was done by delaying the online announcement, and no-one has a right to demand a press release of information.

    I am glad that civility and respect trump the desire to “make a mark” by being the first one to publish. If only we all approached our work while mindful of the second and third order consequences of our actions. Perhaps there would be less outsourcing and layoffs!

  13. As a long time Edmonds resident and an employee of the University of Washington, I applaud Teresa’s action in delaying the release of the story. Employees of the University of Washington learned from the Seattle Times that President Emmert was leaving – over an hour before he had a chance to hit “send” on an email to his faculty and staff. Whoever “scooped” Emmert left an incredible bad feeling among many of the employees here.

    Thank you Mayor Haakenson for your service. I have observed you at various community events and events at my children’s schools over the years and you have always been engaged, respectful and interested in your citizens.

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