Sultan’s grants and volunteer coordinator Donna Murphy and Sky Valley Visitors Center president Debbie Copple said their goodbyes.
Sultan’s grants and volunteer coordinator Donna Murphy and Sky Valley Visitors Center president Debbie Copple said their goodbyes.

Sultan’s first female mayor said her goodbyes at Sultan City Hall on Thursday.

Carolyn Eslick will resign at the end of October to step into her new role serving in the Washington House of Representatives full-time for the 39th District, which is comprised of sections of Skagit, King and Snohomish counties.

“I’m excited, can you tell I’m excited?” Eslick said, addressing the crowd that came to see her off at a reception in the Sultan City Council Chambers. “We’ve done great things here.”

It was the last time Sultan Police Chief Steve McDonald would address her as the honorable mayor at a council meeting; her shoes would be nearly impossible to fill, said Councilmember Jeffrey Beeler.

She beat out four other candidates for an appointment to the seat Rep. John Koster vacated in August. The decision was made in late September.

Koster is now the executive director of the Washington State County Road Administration Board. The Arlington resident resumed a position in the House of Representatives in January after a 12-year stint on the Snohomish County Council.

Eslick has been Sultan’s top official for the past 10 years. Up until her last day, she had been serving a four-year term that ends on Dec. 31, 2019. Sultan City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem John Seehuus will take over for the time being.

During her final council meeting, Seehuus presented Eslick with a plaque here colleagues made for her new office. It listed some of her most significant accomplishments, including her work balancing the budget from 2008-2017, lowering the city’s garbage rates and her efforts in promoting downtown beautification and community cleanups.

Those who said a few words Thursday touted Eslick’s compassion, integrity and vision for her community.

“It’s been a great ride for the past 20 years,” said Councilmember Marianne Naslund, a longtime friend of Eslick’s. The two women, Sultan’s grants and volunteer coordinator Donna Murphy and Sky Valley Visitors Center president Debbie Copple have worked closely together on community projects for decades.

Naslund spoke of the quartet’s matched commitment to bettering the city. She said their tenacity for recruiting volunteers is why her husband coined the term “voluntold.”

Sultan’s Sno-Isle Libraries branch manager Jackie Personeus highlighted Eslick’s initiating the push for a larger local facility. The staff was taken aback that someone from the city suggested the expansion. After getting to know Eslick, she said, she is no longer surprised.

Personeus said Eslick has always approached her efforts with sincerity. She said she hasn’t shied away from speaking to struggling community members, such as those who are homeless, and asking to hear their story.

Snohomish County Parks, Recreation and Tourism department strategic tourism plan coordinator Annique Bennett said she has always been impressed with Eslick’s level of community engagement. The new state representative has always made sure to attend meetings for county projects that could affect Sultan and with enthusiasm.

“It is such a loss to have you step away from this, but such a gain to have you step into this new experience,” Bennett said.

Sen. Kirk Pearson said while it may feel like a loss, Eslick will still advocate for Sultan, and now rural communities will have a strong voice at the state level.

“She has a real heart for the people,” he said.

Eslick has said it’s taken her about 17 years to get to the House of Representatives. She first ran for the seat in 2001, but the job went to Rep. Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish.

Copple said Eslick’s new role will be a huge asset to the area. Eslick is not letting go of Sultan. She will have actually lived the issues that the city and other neighboring communities will lobby for in Olympia. It will be “a real head start,” she said.

Eslick said her plan in office is to push for improvements to U.S. Highway 2. She said she has already been traveling the district to meet with community leaders. She also spoke about the importance of mental health and addiction in the community, and said she has been told that compassion is often lacking in the state agencies addressing these topics.

Eslick has started campaigning to keep the seat next fall. She said she will be garnering support until Dec. 8, which is 30 days before the start of the 2018 legislative session. She said her efforts will resume as soon as the session ends.

Eslick announced former Sultan Councilmember Kristina Blair will lead Eslick’s campaign. Blair took a turn to speak, bringing up her new client’s willingness to truly understand the issues. She said she recalled when the city started to study what working with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to provide public safety services to the community would yield.

She said Eslick had publicly stated she was going to veto the proposal, but she agreed to hear Blair and her husband out over dinner. After their talk, Eslick determined it was a good option for Sultan. It ended up saving the city about $5 million in less than four years, Blair said.

Sultan’s longtime mayor thanked her husband, Chuck, for his unrelenting encouragement. She said she believes not everyone would offer as much support as he has while she’s pursued her goals.

Councilmember Rocky Walker said he has worked with a handful of the city’s former officials, who were great leaders in their own right. None, however, have made the impact Eslick has, he said.

“I don’t think anybody has even come close to the bar you put up there.”

Eslick said she will keep her Sultan address, and be around to support Seehuus and the city.