By Alia Sinclair

SeaTac Mayor Mohamed Egal established an Ad Hoc Committee at Tuesday night’s (May 14, 2024) SeaTac City Council meeting for the purpose of recruiting a new City Manager after the resignation of former City Manager Carl Cole on March 27, 2024.

Mayor Egal asked Councilmembers James Lovell, Senayet Negusse, and Joe Vinson to serve on the committee, with Councilmember Negusse serving as Chair. All three councilmembers accepted.

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Councilmember Peter Kwon Objects

As the Councilmembers were given the opportunity to discuss the motion to establish the City Manager Recruitment Ad Hoc Committee, Councilmember Peter Kwon listed a number of objections.

Firstly, Councilmember Kwon raised concern over how the item was on the council meeting agenda at all without prior discussion from the whole council.

Secondly, he raised concerns over the committee containing only three council members as opposed to all seven, stating that hiring the new City Manager is one of the most important decisions the council will make and all should be involved.

Lastly, Councilmember Kwon stated that committees are not well attended by the public and are also not recorded thus reducing public participation, transparency, and accountability.

Councilmember Kwon’s comments were an echo of the public comments that opened the meeting voicing the same concerns from SeaTac residents.

Mayor Egal assured the Council and the public that the purpose of forming the Ad Hoc Committee was to sift through the large number of expected applications for the City Manager position and not to lock out other Councilmembers or the public in the process. He stated that once a pool of qualified candidates had been selected by the Ad Hoc Committee, they would be presented to the entire Council and the public in full transparency.

After his comments, Councilmember Kwon posited an Amendment to change the City Manager Recruitment Ad Hoc Committee to a Council Study Sessions for the purpose of improving transparency, accountability, and public participation.

Councilmember Lovell expressed strong disagreement with the statements made by Councilmember Kwon. When Councilmember Kwon’s amendment was put to a vote, it failed 4-2.

Councilmember Lovell then moved to make a new Amendment that stated the Manager Recruitment Ad Hoc Committee should be formed as stated, but to further be recorded, open to the public, and have a minimum of four Councilmembers present in order to be considered valid.

When the Motion as Amended was put to a vote it passed 5-0.

(Councilmember Simpson was absent and Councilmember Lovell was having technical issues at the time the vote was taken).

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Alia Sinclair is a writer residing in SeaTac. She is passionate about the arts and connecting people through the written word, and is the founder and editor-in-chief of Patchwork Mosaic magazine for creatives.