By Jack Mayne

Burien will have a new city manager on July 10 with the approval of an employment contract for Brian Wilson, former chief of staff and police chief of Federal Way.

Two-thirds through the regular council meeting Monday night (June19), the Burien City voted five to two to approve a contract making Wilson the new Burien City Manager.

Wagner moves Wilson approval
Councilmember Debi Wagner made the motion to approved Wilson, suggesting he has “an excellent background in government and I think he will do a wonderful job.”

Mayor Lucy Krakowiak said she was “excited to support our new city manager, Brian Wilson and the ‘standard contract’ she had seen before in her 14 years she has been on the Council.”
Councilmember Stephen Armstrong agreed, and said that Wilson has “an excellent background and is very familiar to Burien and the neighboring communities, the airport, police. the homeless and the aspect of economic development.

Also agreeing to Wilson was Councilmember Austin Bell

Berkowitz, Tosta vote no
But Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said she did not agree.

“I think this is a very unfortunate situation that the Council finds itself in. The Council majority made it clear that they wish to hire a candidate I don’t think is a good fit for the city,” said Berkowitz, who is not running for reelection in November. She said she had concerns about Wilson’s objections to the sanctuary city identification of Burien, but “obviously I hope I am incorrect … I am committed to working with him and I hope that I am wrong.”

She said he did not nave any experience as a city manager.

But she said a contract with a new city manager should protect the city, but she felt the one before the Council was not one that did that.

Berkowitz said the comments the city has received on Wilson have almost all been negative.

She thought it would be more valuable to postpone the selection for a new Council in January 2018, when a new Council will be empaneled.

Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta said it was the job of the Council to protect the city and its citizens and its finances.

She agreed with Berkowitz that the contract did not provided the thing it should have to protect citizens. She said she was concerned that Wilson would have 18 months to find residence in Burien.
Like Berkowitz, she pledged to work with Wilson, but she was “not supportive of this contract.”

Starts in July
Wilson will start as new Burien city manager effective July 10 at an annual base salary of $165,000. His fired predecessor, Kamuron Gurol, was paid $155,000 annually.

After he left Federal Way employment last winter, he became a volunteer consultant to the Corral Springs Water District located in Douglas County, in central Washington. The Burien contract allows him to continue on an unpaid basis.

The city will pay him a monthly allowance of $475 as full and complete payment for all automobile expenses to use his own his personal car on city business.

He is to become a Burien resident within 18 months, and the city will pay him $5,000 in moving costs.

The Burien contract also says he may be deemed terminated for “cause,” and “ineligible for severance benefits, if manager is terminated for willful misconduct, including but not limited to commission of any criminal act.”

He gets vacation accrued at the rate of 13.33 hours per month and sick leave at 8 hours per month.
Wilson resigned from his job as chief of staff of Federal Way last November, with his last day in that city on Nov. 20, 2016, a post he held f rom January 2014.

Federal Way accomplishments
According to the Federal Way Mirror newspaper, Mayor Jim Ferrell said Wilson helped establish a panel, which led to the success of the nearly complete Performing Arts and Event Center. Wilson also helped the re-design of the Federal Way Town Square Park and many other efforts “to make this city a better place to live.

Prior to joining the mayor’s staff, Wilson served as interim city manager, the Federal Way Police Department’s chief of police and deputy chief, as well as an original member of the department.
Wilson previously served as a member of the Renton Police Department. He is a graduate of Washington State University and earned his Masters of Public Administration from Seattle University.

Federal Way Mayor Ferrell had told the Mirror that he doesn’t believe Wilson’s resignation last winter had anything to do with the recent Summit Law Investigation that was prompted by a forgery allegations in October that involved Wilson.

A November investigation cleared Wilson.

The newspaper said an investigator’s charge that Wilson’s signature was forged on a city document last year should be rejected.

No basis for allegations
“After a careful evaluation, we find that there is no unbiased support for the allegations contained in the complaint,” an investigator wrote, noting that experts in forensic handwriting, electronic discovery and information performed the investigation.

“This report and the results of the investigation fully exonerate my Chief of Staff Brian Wilson,” Mayor Ferrell said. “The report speaks for itself and should put this entire issue to rest.

“This report and the results of the investigation fully exonerate … Wilson,” Ferrell said. “The report speaks for itself and should put this entire issue to rest.”

Wilson declined to comment to the Mirror.

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

2 replies on “Burien City Council approves contract 5-2 for Brian Wilson as new city manager”

  1. Hard to say whom I feel the sorriest for with this selection. Us for the council’s woefully under scrutinizing decision, or Mr. Wilson for what the council will do to him. Big surprise if he lasts a year. But then he’s used to moving on. This is one time when I agree with Lauren B and Tosta.
    Anyone else noticing that the premise of Burien’s leadership is not working. Low paid council members making the decisions and 1 big pay Town Manager/fall guy set-up to be axed with no public reason.

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