By Chris Hendrickson
Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick and Council said farewell to four councilmembers last week at City Hall. Departing Councilmembers Kristina Blair, Steve Slawson, Ken Marshall and Kay George were given engraved plaques in honor of their service on Sultan City Council.
“I have to say it’s quite sad,” said Mayor Eslick. “This is going to be a huge change for us.”
Mayor Eslick gave each departing councilmember the opportunity to say a few words about their service.
Councilmember Steve Slawson, who has served for eight years, recalled his first neighborhood canvas after he decided to run for council. A citizen asked him where his $4,000 in tax money goes. Slawson thought that it was a pretty good question, and it was a question for which he did not have the answer.
“So I went down to the county and I found out that 61 percent of those taxes went to schools,” said Slawson. “I marched right back to the guys’ house and said, ‘This is where your money goes. Thank you for the lesson.’”
The citizen told Slawson that, due to his follow-up, he had secured his vote.
“He still wasn’t happy about the 61 percent,” said Slawson.
Slawson offered the mayor, and councilmembers old and new, a heartfelt goodbye.
“What I want to say is that I tip my hat to all of you; I feel very honored to be here,” said Slawson. “When I walk into a room I always say, ‘I’m from the greatest city in the world, Sultan, Washington, where I’m honored to be a councilman.’”
Councilmember-elect John Seehuus won Slawson’s Position 2 seat unopposed.
Councilmember Kay George was elected two years ago when she chose to run for Position 3 against Councilmember Marianne Naslund, who had been appointed to fill the empty seat.
“It has really been an awesome experience,” said George. “Very frustrating at times, but I’m certainly glad I did it.”
Rocky Walker, who ran against George for the Position 3 seat, will be sworn in January, 2014.
Mayor Eslick addressed Councilmember Kristina Blair next, who is married to Steve Slawson. The couple wed in 2006, after both had been elected to council. Eslick stated that she has received many inquiries on what it’s like to have a married couple on the council.
“I’d say, ‘Just come to the council meetings and watch,’” said Eslick.
“It has worked well,” the mayor continued. “You two have done an outstanding job.”
Councilmember Blair entered politics originally as an activist in Newcastle. When she came to Sultan she attempted to obtain a seat on the city’s Planning Commission but then-mayor Ben Tolson declined to appoint her.
That did not stop her; Blair then decided to seek an appointment to the city council. She was appointed to council in 2004, but it was an appointment that nearly didn’t happen.
“It was a tie vote,” said Blair. “They were going to make Mayor Ben Tolson break the tie, but then one of the councilmembers at the time changed his vote.”
Blair said that it was her desire to create positive change in her community that motivated her to become involved. She sought to increase the level of professionalism among Sultan’s city staff and elected officials, and to improve the city’s financial condition.
“I always told people that it did no good to sit around and gripe about things; that you had to get in and make a difference,” said Blair.
“It’s been a tremendous honor,” said Blair, who has served for nearly 10 years.
Councilmember-elect Marianne Naslund won Blair’s Position 6 seat against write-in candidate Bart Dalmasso.
Ex-Councilmember Ken Marshall sat in the audience last week. Per Washington State RCW, when a councilperson is elected to a seat that is occupied by an appointed councilmember, the elected individual takes the office immediately after being elected. As a result, Councilmember Bob McCarty, who won the Position 1 seat over Marshall, was sworn in on Dec. 12.
“It was fun,” said Marshall. “I learned a lot, in a hurry. I went from the fire to the pan, and back.”
Marshall thanked council for mentoring him during his service.
“You may see me around again,” said Marshall.