One of Earling’s first moves as new mayor? Terminating Kim Cole’s employment

A day after he was sworn in as Edmonds’ new mayor, Dave Earling announced Wednesday that he has terminated the employment of ex-Mayor Mike Cooper’s executive assistant, Kim Cole, who had been on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into a claim she made in regards to a hostile work environment.

“Mayor Earling has decided to select a new person to serve as his executive assistant,” said the news release from the Mayor’s office issued Wednesday morning.  City code and personnel policies state that the position of the Mayor’s executive assistant “serves at the pleasure of the Mayor,” and as a result Earling has the authority to terminate Cole and hire his own executive assistant, the  release noted.

“Mayor Earling would like to thank Kim Cole for her prior services and wishes her the best,” the news release said.

Earling said he will conduct a competitive process to fill the position, and anyone meeting the necessary job qualifications is eligible to apply between now and Dec. 7.  More details can be found on the city website at

  1. I would have preferred the action to happen after a full investigation. Hope this does not open the City up for a huge lawsuit. Sometimes it is better to think before you leap.

  2. Priya:
    You need to get beyond some of your biases. Its pretty naive, and insulting, of you to think that our new mayor entered his office this morning and said to himself “I think I’ll fire Kimberly Cole today”.

  3. There have been a number of comments on this blog, and by some city council members at last week’s meeting, that the head of a department of two should not be paid $110,000. People need to insure that they are evaluating the position and not any incumbent. Pay levels are sometimes determined by the number of employees managed, and they are also determined by the required qualifications for the position as well as the scope of responsibility. I believe that the compensation consultant retained by the city will determine that the head of a department responsible for providing HR services for 206 employees should be in a pay range that has 6 figures.

  4. Compensation consultants always suggest the highest salary that they can justify because the consultants are hired by the staff at the top of the salary range. If the consultant didn’t suggest high salaries, they would not be hired by anyone else. It is in their best interest to see that the top people are paid well—so that they will be paid well.

    Given that most of the employees in any city government are part of a union and their pay level, salary and other compensation is set by contract, the job left for the HR director is neither difficult or demanding. I am not just suggesting that $110,000 is too hight, but that maybe the positiion doesn’t need to be filled at all. A good clerk, keeping a freeze on wages and hiring, could probably perform the task.

    Dick Falkenbury

  5. Ron B. I hope you are emailing the council members with your ideas so that the council can take them up for discussion and act on them. It would be great if you would come to council meeting and speak to the council and public on many of your ideas as I feel it would help to get the council to act .

  6. While I agree that spending needs to be judicious and efficient, looking to cut salaries is not always the best. Most of the higher salaries are set to be competitive with comparable cities. The people who have the talent seek out these jobs and if you want less qualified you will get them by lowering the pay available.
    What Edmonds needs to do, as well as spend efficiently, is to promote business areas and get rid of the ridiculous regulations that have for years been a hindrance to business development.
    The City of Edmonds had an opportunity to annex Aurora Village. Short sighted people decided no. Look at all the revenue lost from that decision. Bothell crosses the county borders so you can’t say it wouldn’t work.
    Take a look at the development of Mill Creek and Kirkland. Edmonds could be benefitting from the same as they have a similar populace.
    What Edmonds has done is to promote multiple family dwellings. All of the people in these buildings have to shop in other cities to find what they want because Edmonds doesn’t have the variety others do.

  7. Citizens need to realize that this blog, while very useful, is not an effective substitute for going to council meetings to try and influence council members. We need an abundance of citizens to speak comments similar to #9 at the podium. There is too much apathy in our city.When the public hearing for the 2012 budget was held there were only three citizens who commented.

  8. @Ron, #4,

    I am not naive; I am the opposite. I’ve been involved in enough litigation to understand how these things can blow up. You need to let go of some of your biases and start looking at this from a neutral legal perspective.

  9. OK, let’s jump back to the HR job as I see this position not being understood for what it should be, and why it’s important to a company or governmental entity.

    First, this is not a clerical position to be handled by anyone, or half-time by a Director of another Edmonds department. The processes and requirements to manage personnel are wrapped in many legal requirements, failure to comply placing a city @ risk ($). The need to keep staff and managers trained on many issues is on-going. As a representative of Edmonds, such a person must also be active in the employement marketplace so as to attract good talent @ competitive wages. Other responsibilities include compensation, union negotiations, benefits, dispute resolutions, equal employment issues, general work environment, etc.

    While not a large city, and one running with a very small HR group, Edmonds must still comply with the same laws and do all the same work as Seattle and other large cities. We don’t get a pass on these matters.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics, using May 2008 data, shows the median annual wage for HR managers to be $96,130, in a range from $56,000 to $163,220. For local governments, the median is $89, 240.

    I vote for reinstating the position so that our workers and our citizens, get the necessary professional attention and oversight needed. Anything less is placing our workforce and our governance @ risk. Oh, and pay them what they’re worth!

  10. Jim, you are correct. Edmonds deals with at least 3 unions plus the unrepresented and in to days labor cliament it would take just one small mistake to create legal issues for the city

  11. The 4 year union conract was just completed. There is a hold on new hires.So the H.R. director’s workload is lower now. This is a good time to evaluate the duties and have time to figure out the best policy on salaries and dispute resolutions in the future.

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