Gordon Shaw Says Time Away From Council Meetings Has No Impact On Job
What impact, if any, does Burien City Councilman Gordon Shaw’s annual travel to New Zealand have on council business and his ability to represent city residents?
“None,” Mayor Joan McGilton told The B-Town Blog Oct. 25. “We all have things that we have to do. I was out for six weeks this summer for surgery. Did that hurt the council? No.”
Shaw is “absolutely up to speed when he returns” each year, she added.
McGilton responded to a recent Comment on The B-Town Blog by May B. Black, who said Shaw “misses at least 25% of the meetings and what is going on at the council … then it takes him another month to get back up to speed on the issues because he has been gone for so long.”
But Shaw stressed that these trips have “no effect” on council activity while he is in New Zealand during the first part of each year, and that “they do not affect me by being behind” when he gets back.
“I take a computer with me, I follow the meetings on the Internet, and I stay up on issues. I’m also in frequent email contact with the city.”
What really matters is how he represents Burien residents and what he accomplishes for the city in the long run, he said.
“Typically I’m gone for a month or two. Probably over the last eight years I’ve averaged six to eight weeks a year” away from council meetings,” Shaw said of his New Zealand trips. “That is one-sixth of a year, not 25 percent.”
He has owned property in New Zealand since 1991 when he was on the Planning Commission. “It was a big issue when I first ran for council. It was used against me in that campaign,” Shaw continued.
Since then, “the voters have basically known about me being gone. It’s up to them to decide whether the job I do for the city is worse” because of his travel “or is still worth their vote.”
City council meetings represent “only about one-third of the job I do for the city,” Shaw said. “The other two-thirds is being out and about in the community and working behind the scenes to get things done.”
A major goal for Shaw is opening the Northeast Redevelopment Area beneath Sea-Tac International Airport’s northern flight path to business activity.
“First we were told no retail sales would be allowed there, despite the fact that nobody sleeps in the businesses at night,” he said. “Then we were told no off ramp from [SR] 518 would be allowed for access there.
Now both barriers have been removed. “Those two things I did outside any meeting time at council,” Shaw said. “I also want to see an auto mall there, and we’re close to that. That’s all work that gets done by the relationships I’ve built up with the Port of Seattle.”
Asked if Shaw’s absence is disruptive to council business, City Manager Mike Martin also said it isn’t.
“The short answer is no,” Martin said. “In five years here, I can’t recall a time that having a person gone has slowed the council … not in the least.”