Mayor’s reason for rescinding offer to Pruitt? He didn’t disclose his application for police job in Lake Stevens 10 years ago

A letter from Mayor Mike Nelson details, for the first time, why the mayor rescinded the offer to Sherman Pruitt to become Edmonds’ next police chief. My Edmonds News has obtained a copy of that letter.

In the letter, dated Dec. 15, the mayor writes “it is with deep regret that I write this letter to you.” The reason Nelson gives for withdrawing the job offer: Pruitt had applied for a job with the Lake Stevens police and did not notify Edmonds of that fact.

Here is an excerpt from the Mayor’s letter:

As you know, the city made a conditional offer of employment to you pending successful completion of a legally required background check. In the course of doing the background check, Ms. Neill-Hoyson learned yesterday (Monday) that you had applied for a lateral officer position at the city of Lake Stevens and, after completion of a background check there, you were not offered the position.”

My Edmonds News has learned that the “position… at Lake Stevens” refers to a job application Pruitt made there at least 10 years ago.

We asked Mayor Nelson for an interview to address the contents of the letter and other issues. A city spokesperson says Nelson is not doing interviews.

My Edmonds News investigation published Tuesday, Dec. 15 found that the City of Edmonds background check also missed — or did not consider significant — other professional and personal information on Chief Pruitt. That investigation discovered that Pruitt had accepted a job with the Seattle Police Department in 2004; that in September 2004, while still training as a rookie for Seattle, Pruitt was the subject of a DuPont (Pierce County) police investigation into a harassment incident; and that the next month, October 2004, the Seattle Police Departmentfired Pruitt.

We also reported two cases of domestic violence in which Pruitt was a suspect, and that an ex-wife got a protective order against him;. And because of the case, Pruitt — then in the Marine Corps — was ordered to attend a 16-week anti-domestic violence training program. This is confirmed in testimony in a separate federal trial, in which Pruitt and his wife sued the City of Arlington for civil rights violations. The jury found in favor of the City of Arlington.

My Edmonds News has, in addition, confirmed and reported that these domestic violence issues were in a 60-page packet of transcripts of the testimony of that trial and were delivered to the mayor, human resources director and all seven city douncilmembers two days before the Dec. 8 vote to confirm Pruitt’s appointment to the Edmonds Chief of Police position.

Mayor Nelson’s letter continues:

This information was new to the city because it had not been disclosed in response to a question about prior positions in law enforcement you had applied for. If not for the information the city received yesterday, we might never have known. Ms. Neill-Hoyson contacted you about the admission and you explained that you had forgotten you had gone through a process with that agency and therefore had not disclosed it.”

The mayor concludes:

As you know, I have fully supported your candidacy and was very hopeful that you would be approved as the City’s new Police Chief.  Having considered the significance of the omission, and the explanation you gave for it, I have decided that the City cannot proceed with your application and have decided to withdraw the conditional offer. 

I wish you the best

Mike Nelson


In a statement on Tuesday, Nelson said he plans to begin a new national search for police chief in 2021.

— By Bob Throndsen 








  1. To Mike Nelson, HR, and the four councilmembers who rushed the confirmation: You have failed in your duties to objectively serve this community. You continue to hide behind convenient technicalities when in fact there were flaws and shortcomings in your process.

    Your mission to push an agenda has put Mr. Pruitt under tremendous scrutiny, it has failed to honor the dedication of a long-standing, well-respected, committed Acting Chief, and you have tarnished the reputation of this city.

    The citizens deserve leadership that is best-fit and best-qualified for their duties – of which the five of you have failed to demonstrate. It is time to do right by the citizens of Edmonds, Mr. Pruitt, and Chief Lawless.

    Stop deflecting. Apologize. Then step down in the best interest of Edmonds.

    1. Mr. Schindler, Everything you have said is exactly how I feel about this whole dishonest fiasco. I demand that Mike Nelson resign immediately. The four council members who voted with Nelson should all “take a hike”. Edmonds does not these 5 dishonest politicians.

    2. I agree, Michael.

      Mayor Nelson, council members Fraley-Monillas, Paine, Distelorst, and Laura Johnson – you have failed in your duty to best serve the City of Edmonds. Instead, you have sought to impose a political agenda that those you represent do not want. You have brought discontent and shame to our community. You have mistreated Acting Chief of Police Lawless. You have mistreated Chief Sherman Pruitt, who will now forever be associated with past misdeeds that may no longer accurately represent him as a man.

      Mayor Nelson, it is time to resign. Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, resign. Paine, Distelhorst and Laura Johnson, resign. Let Edmonds move forward with better leadership.

  2. Unfortunately, the mayor’s letter is either incorrect or misleading. In last week’s Council meeting, Council heard testimony from HR Director Neil-Hoyson that the background check about Chief Pruitt was complete and extremely thorough, and the only missing element was the written psychological evaluation that had not yet been provided but soon would be. She testified the firm conducting the evaluation verbally reported the results were favorable and Council should therefore feel comfortable confirming Chief Pruitt on the sole condition the written psychological evaluation would confirm the report provided verbally to her. There were no other conditions considered by Council, as it was represented to them every other base was covered by the detailed background check.

    1. Dave,
      You are 100% accurate. Anything that is presented to a City Council, or any legal body, which bases it determinations on the information presented, it is a criminal offense to present false and misleading information to a City Council.
      Any presentation to a City Council is classified as “testimony”.

      2015 Revised Code of Washington
      9A.76 Obstructing governmental operation.
      9A.76.175 Making a false or misleading statement to a public servant.
      WA Rev Code § 9A.76.175 (2015) What’s This?
      RCW 9A.76.175 Making a false or misleading statement to a public servant.

      A person who knowingly makes a false or misleading material statement to a public servant is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. “Material statement” means a written or oral statement reasonably likely to be relied upon by a public servant in the discharge of his or her official powers or duties.

      [2001 c 308 § 2. Prior: 1995 c 285 § 32.]


      Purpose—2001 c 308: “The purpose of this act is to respond to State v. Thomas, 103 Wn. App. 800, by reenacting, without changes, the law prohibiting materially false or misleading statements to public servants, enacted as sections 32 and 33, chapter 285, Laws of 1995.” [2001 c 308 § 1.]

      Effective date—2001 c 308: “This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [May 14, 2001].” [2001 c 308 § 4.]

      Effective date—1995 c 285: See RCW 48.30A.900.

  3. Mike didn’t disclose he was a registered lobbyist for the SEIU Union when he sought appointment to the City Council.

  4. There needs to be a full investigation of Mayor, HR director and the 4 council members who approved the appointment.

  5. While not an Edmonds resident, I anticipate my Esperance neighborhood will be someday pulled in.

    The precedent for the omission of highly pertinent and relative information seems to have started with Mayor Mike Nelson during his 2019 campaign for Mayor. Nelson never brought up his personal debt to the IRS ($52,000). That information came to light anonymously, but was verified to be true.

    Nelson appeared to be slow to take personal responsibility. From My Edmonds News (Election 2019: Nelson writes letter to address ‘whisper campaign’ about IRS debt)(July 8, 2019) part of his response included…

    have spent a lot of time reflecting over our family’s experience. What did I learn?

    1. No family should have to experience what we went through because everyone deserves a fair shot at the American dream.
    2. We have a government that spends more time pushing us down rather than lifting us up.
    3. And no matter how hard times get, no matter how impossible things seem, don’t give up. Don’t walk away when times get tough. Try to find a way forward.

    Bullet point number 2 especially bothers me. It demonstrates blaming for others, rather than taking responsibility.

    In any event, the omission is troubling. A mayoral candidate should disclose personal financial information. Managing personal finances is very indicative of how city finances may be handled.

    1. It is always best to do what is best for the City of Edmonds for the general population. Once you have a liberal political agenda to some kind of “social justice” frenzy, the people of Edmonds are not served. Taking care of our city is a pragmatic procedure.

  6. I wonder if we’ll ever learn exactly what happened in the processing of Pruitt’s application. The mayor’s letter to him yesterday said “As you know, the city made a conditional offer of employment to you pending successful completion of a legally required background check.” At last week’s council meeting “Ms. Neill Hoyson pointed out the confirmation needs to be conditional based on receipt of a satisfactory psychological evaluation.”

  7. While the article states that the 60-page transcript was delivered just two days before the Council’s vote, when it was received on Sunday, consideration of Pruitt’s nomination was on the meeting agenda 9 days away.

    It was the next day, Monday evening, that it was moved to the 8th, scheduled to begin in just 24 hours.

    In his desire to conduct a new nationwide search, Mayor Nelson’s stated “vision” for the Edmonds PD emphasizes a continued racial and/or ethnic bias.

    In her statement to NBC news affiliate KING 5, current Council president Adrienne Fraley-Monillas expressed a racial bias which clearly impeded her ability to objectively perform her elected duties.

    Both should quickly and publicly resign so City of Edmonds can begin to move past the mess they created.

  8. We hired you, Mayor Mike Nelson and the 4 city council members to run this great city of Edmonds with the professionalism it/we deserve. When you fail there is no other option other than letting you all go. Please do the right thing and resign now. I’m sorry to say but our trust is gone.

    1. Totally agree the council members who voted for him and the mayor should Demonstrate some moral ethics and all resign immediately. Anything less will demonstrate that the city of Edmonds has some very unethical and low moral standards. This is creating a very large black eye For the city of Edmonds and all its citizens. Time to act now, show us some moral courage to help correct this in Enormous wrong

  9. Might I suggest that it may take many, many citizens requesting apologies and resignations before such will ever be considered. My experience leads me to believe that elected officials are taught two things:

    1. Never admit wrong and do not respond to citizen emails pointing out wrong.
    2. The situation will blow over in a short period of time. Citizens will lose interest and before much time has passed, the great majority of citizens will be discussing a new topic.

    Contrary to #2, a puzzling aspect of the Mayor’s judgement is the decision to start a nationwide search in January. This choice guarantees that this situation will not blow over in a short period of time.

    One more reason to appoint Chief Lawless TODAY is that such would be a wise political move. It is the best and maybe the only thing the Mayor can do to even attempt to rebuild trust. One can argue that the Mayor needs Chief Lawless now more than ever.

    If the Mayor does not do so, the strong displeasure with the Mayor’s conduct is likely to linger for some time with a nationwide search planned in the future.

    I wonder where Mayor Nelson got the idea that it is wise to refuse requests for interviews?

  10. Reason being successful completion of background check?? No! This is NOT what we heard listening to last weeks council meeting. The “conditional” offer was made pending written completion of the psychological evaluation. HR Director, Ms. Hoyson stated the City had a verbal approval of the psychological evaluation but waiting on the written confirmation. The above stated reasoning is false and again misleading to our community!

    1. This is disgraceful and is an example of how in attempt to hire more people of color to city government, our Mayor, HR Director, and City Council rushed through a candidate without proper vetting, at the expense of the acting chief who just so happens to be white. I personally support Affirmative Action and diversity in hiring practices, but this action by the city is a perfect example of why many people do not. I support the appointment of Chief Lawless immediately.

    2. This is disgraceful. I support the appointment of Chief Lawless immediately. This is an example of how in attempt to hire more people of color to city government, our Mayor, HR Director, and City Council rushed through a candidate without proper vetting, at the expense of the acting chief who just so happens to be white. I personally support Affirmative Action and diversity in hiring practices, but this action by the city is a perfect example of why many people do not.

      1. Beth – it is one of the reasons the military took the photos out of the promotion packets. Humans are humans and some have strong biases so the military took the step to evaluate based on experience, qualifications, recommendations (evals), etc and not pictures. Those who rise to the top are then interviewed to determine personality and best-fit. Starts with best-qualified and then moves to best-fit. The city could learn from this model.

  11. Save us further public embarrassment, don’t needlessly squander money on another search, and do the right thing! Name Jim Lawless as our Chief of Police. Do this in the best interest of our city and do it now!

    May this sleazy, incompetent chapter in the history of Edmonds government fade into our past; however, when it comes time to vote, we will remember your shameful actions. (Kudos to those councilmembers who stood firm.) This is not the way we expect our Mayor, City Council, and Human Resources to act. Perhaps all who have been involved in this debacle should resign!

  12. Council President Fraley-Monillas, your smugness while on camera during the council meeting was appalling. You had the look of someone who, pardon the expression, thinks her @#*% doesn’t ‘t stink. Constantly fidgeting. eating while on camera, smirking at the callers. This was extremely unsophisticated and low-brow. You’ve tainted yourself and the position you hold. If for some reason, you survive this onslaught of duly deserved criticism and continue to “serve” (yourself) while on council, then up your game to the level expected of one in your position. Otherwise, beat it! We don’t like your kind around here.

    Mayor Nelson, you have in one fell swoop, lost your ability to govern our fair city. You should resign immediately. You launched your credibility into the sea like a depth charge off a boat. You follow two Previous Mayors (Haakeson and Earling) who both served with honor and distinction. We had the good fortune to be well served by these two Mayors for the better part of twenty years. Mayor Nelson, this would be the time to bow out and try and to salvage some of your dignity. We need a Mayor that will work for us. Not for themselves.

    Mayor Nelson and Council President Fraley-Monillas, you have both besmirched the offices of which you were entrusted. Now is the time to leave and let the memory of you both fade away. The sooner you leave, the sooner we will forget about you. Maybe

    1. Brad:
      I tried to tell others about my assessment of AFM’s camera appearance, but you’ve done it considerably better than I’ve been able to. You’re 100% right on!
      I also totally agree with your comments about Mayor Nelson.

      1. This whole hiring process felt tainted from the beginning. Why would a Chief of a small tribe be considered for the Edmonds Chief of Police position. I thought selective certification and affirmative action had ended years ago.

        After 34 years as a Seattle officer in vice, sex offenders and motorcycles, I learned a few things. Like how to deal with unpleasant and difficult people. Then I spent 4 years as a civilian background detective and learned more. I always joke that I was a human lie detector. Who did Pruitt’s background. Why hasn’t Acting Chief Lawless been hired to a job that he is obviously qualified.

        Something still smells in Edmonds.
        Do the right thing.

        Edmonds 1980 – 2020

    2. Yes! Thank you for pointing this out, the perfect description of our council President and her regular behavior during council and other community meetings. Not acceptable.

  13. Man, this is not fair to Pruitt. He forgot to indicated the applied for a lateral police job 10 years ago? Mayor Nelson was appointed to the City Council and he had an *active* job as a register lobbyist for a company who had contracts with the city. I just emailed half the people in this thread his application to the city. I think this demonstrates that our mayor has a working knowledge of the ethics regarding omissions and conflicts of interest. City Ordinance 3689 requires a 1-year hiatus between being a City Councilmember and a lobbyist. This is a double standard. I am sorry Chief Pruitt.

  14. Would someone please tell me how these people got elected? Is it because we are affectively a one party state/county/town?
    If the HR is correct then the Mayor and Council had the information necessary to make a decision the it wasn’t “Chief” Pruitt.
    The Mayor and Council went on to nominate Pruitt and “cover-up” the HR report. Where is the integrity? Have they no conscience?
    It isn’t just Denmark that smells fishy!

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