City of Edmonds Finance Director Scott James has left

City Finance Director Scott James

City of Edmonds Finance Director Scott James is no longer with the city, My Edmonds News has learned.

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson said Friday afternoon that he couldn’t comment on James’ status until after the council votes on an employee separation agreement as part of its Tuesday, May 26 consent agenda. The council agenda item does not name James specifically, but instead refers to “subject employment” that will end on June 1, 2020. The agenda item states that the council must authorize the mayor to sign the separation agreement, adding that the employee has already signed the agreement.

My Edmonds News received confirmation of James’ departure from a source who requested anonymity.

James had been the city’s finance director since March 2014, when he was hired by former Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling.

Prior to coming to Edmonds, James spent seven years as finance director for the City of Mukilteo. He had also worked for the City of Edmonds earlier in his career, serving as  a staff accountant from 1998 to 2005.

As finance director, James oversaw development of the city budget, as well as the city’s finance and IT departments. He was also active in the community, serving as president of Edmonds Noon Rotary Club and participating in Rotary community outreach activities.

29 Replies to “City of Edmonds Finance Director Scott James has left”

  1. This is a really big surprise. I would guess that he isn’t departing voluntarily – or he would have given longer notice of his intended departure – and he had his “dream” job. My experience with him was that he was very competent, so it will be interesting to learn more.


  2. Scott is and has been an exceptional finance director. He recently led our efforts to secure Edmonds’ first ever AAA bond rating, which has tangible financial benefits for our city. I truly hate to see him leave, but wish him all the best and thank him for all he has done for Edmonds!


    1. We all know there are 2 sides of the story…so I wouldnt jump on one bandwagon or the other until the truth is revealed.
      However, Edmonds should demand a revote on the latest school levy tax. We should all consider the unfairness of massive improvements to lynnwood schools, and not Edmonds schools.
      A lot of people are looking at this school levy in a different light since co-vid has made future school tax levies not so appealing.


      1. Totally agree. No more school tax levys for Edmonds. Let’s help these kids in Lynnwood for awile. Its the honorable thing to do. And you know it. All of Edmonds knows this deep down.


  3. Not certain his job is what many would want to have at this time. The city of Edmonds needs to downsize and only do the basics. People need to remember our tax dollars only go so far. The City of Edmonds should not even think about raising taxes. It is time to close all departments that we can live without.


    1. Scott James didn’t resign. The Mayor fired him. There must have been a threat of a potential lawsuit thus requiring the Separation Agreement. See the Meeting Minutes May 15, 2029 Special City Council Meeting.

      It’s a shameful situation, Mr James did an excellent job for citizens of Edmonds. His expertise will be sadly missed and hard to replace.


  4. Edmonds has a pattern of finance director turnover, a pattern which is disturbing at best. The timing of this one is deeply disturbing, since the finances are at the center of all of our pandemic response and recovery. One can only hope there is someone who can step right in, and that there was a logical and rational reasoning for this. It is on Mayor Nelson. Hopefully Mr. James can decompress on a private Zoom session with all those other finance directors who left Edmonds in similar circumstances. Mayor Nelson needs to explain this to the tax payers of Edmonds, and I hope there is a good explanation for it, as well as his plans going forward.


  5. Scott James did an excellent job, a true loss for the Taxpayers of Edmonds.

    I have talked with Scott on several occasions, always polite, courteous and a true professional.

    Scott, wishing you a prosperous and healthy future.


  6. Since the first City Council Meeting in January 2020, to the most recent City meeting where Mayor Nelson, made an aside comment that he and the Council President dropped an agenda item, the two have either been ignorant to, disregarded or created their own rules for the City, at least during City Council meetings.

    Adopted City rules are not being followed or enforced. Efficiency is one thing, disrespect of documented City authority, and to the authority of the legislative branch and Staff, is quite different.

    The City Attorney’s job is to protect the elected officials and staff, so Taraday is not going to interfere in a public meeting and out the Mayor and Council President for not following rules.

    The Mayor has the power to fire the City Clerk. This puts Passey in a difficult situation to call out improper procedures. How does he do his job and keep it?

    And, when Council, Staff and Citizens are often caught off guard, frequently not knowing in the moment that rules are being broken, little to nothing can be done. The dirty water flows on under the connector; I mean bridge.


    1. This has been a very strange year. Ordinance No. 4172 documents that Mayor Earling’s name was scratched out and Mayor Nelson signed Ordinance No. 4172 as APPROVED. Ordinance No. 4172 was passed by the City Council on November 19, 2019. David O. Earling was the Mayor on November 19, 2019 and Mike Nelson was a City Councilmember. Mayor Nelson’s signature on Ordinance No. 4172 is not dated but a Mayor only had until December 2, 2019 to approve or veto it. With or without signature, Ordinance No. 4172 became valid on December 2, 2019, roughly a month before Mike Nelson’s term as Mayor commenced.

      So why did Mayor Nelson sign the Ordinance? Was he advised to?

      Why was an Ordinance approved on November 19, 2019 not published until January 29, 2020?

      Furthermore, the related State Law for Open Public Meetings Act Training adopted under Senate Bill 5964 was effective July 1, 2014. Why did our City Council adopt a related Ordinance over 5 years later?


      1. Furthermore, the OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT TRAINING requires the Mayor and City Council complete training within 90 days of taking sworn oath office. The City Ordinance 4172 excluded the City Council and Mayor from taking training and only requires members of Board and Commissions take the Attorney General’s online training for the Public Records and Open Public Meetings.

        The Lighthouse Law Group training provided at the February 7, 2020 Council Retreat was woefully inadequate missing many of the requirements of both laws. Most of the training was about not sending emails and not communicating with citizens. At no time did City Attorney Taraday read the legislative declarations of either law.

        The legislature finds and declares that all public commissions, boards, councils, committees subcommittees, departments, divisions, offices, and all public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of this chapter that their actions be taken openly and their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

        Open Public Meetings Act Legislative Declaration, RCW 42.30.010.

        There is a audio recording of the City Attorney’s training on the City’s website. I think you will agree it was woefully inadequate lacking any substance.


  7. Our new Mayor is wearing new clothes. Nelson just doesn’t realize the cloth use to make his new suit is invisible. Finis Tupper is just the elephant in the room.


    1. It is much easier to have a City which understands and follows the Laws of the State of Washington.
      Edmonds is being sued, guess they should understand that State Laws apply to them as well. This is not a Kingdom.
      Just follow the LAW, that way, there would be no basis for legal action against the City of Edmonds.
      A pretty simple construct — of law.

      The Criminal, in this case the City of Edmonds, always complains the law(s) are unfair.


    1. Well then, I guess your neighbors and all us Edmonds citizens will just have to pay up and compensate you for the substantial damages you have sustained. I hope you’re ok.


      1. Don

        First off, if the damages are awarded by a Superior Court Judge, they are not substantial and not from the City’s coffers. For a 1st time offense each elected official that attended the illegal meeting would pay from their personal funds $500.00 (no more and no less). It is a civil violation and not criminal.

        I’m okay and pray you and your family are too.


  8. Is the Council’s only option to approve an employer separation agreement? Is it possible this would likely lead to yet another lawsuit against the City and possibly the Mayor himself? Are there any alternatives for the Council and Scott? This question is primary for thought for legal, Council, Scott and the greater good of the City.


  9. In my opinion Mr. James should certainly seek legal advice. The Mayor is acting independently and not taking the advice of the professional staff of the city.

    Example the Mayor’s Community & Economic Relief Fund, no ordinance, over his spending limit, no City Council approval and not for welfare of individuals. The Mayor purchased a truck for the starving citizens.


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