Burien city council members defeated a motion to place the question of an elected city mayor on the April 2013 special election ballot at Monday night’s meeting (Nov. 26).
Councilmembers Jack Block Jr., who made the motion for such an election at their Nov. 19 meeting, Bob Edgar and Lucy Krakowiak voted yes. Opposing it were Deputy Mayor Rose Clark and Councilmembers Joan McGilton and Gerald Robison. Mayor Brian Bennett was absent.
The motion died on a tie vote, as did a prior amendment to offer the motion as a resolution, which City Attorney Craig Knudsen said was the proper legal format.
After Block made his motion from the floor on Nov. 19, which was promptly seconded by Krakowiak, Clark recessed the meeting and then walked out of the meeting with Robison (read our coverage here). This left only three council members present – one short of a quorum – and that meeting was not continued.
Both McGilton and Bennett were absent and excused from that meeting, giving the Block-led faction a 3-2 majority at the moment.
Recalling the events of Nov. 19, Clark read a lengthy statement at the beginning of Monday’s meeting in which she noted that since Burien incorporated in 1993, councilmembers have deferred to each other by granting the courtesy of not taking major actions unless all members are present.
This, she said, had never been infringed on until last August, when, in her absence, Block moved to withdraw the North Highline annexation measure from the ballot, and then again with two motions including the elected mayor issue last week.
Block defended his action, saying that after a divisive fight over annexation he was trying to focus the city on something positive by proposing an elected mayor.
But Robison countered that talking about changing the form of city government is “irresponsible” without a study and discussion of the question by the full council.