Paul Hagen has tendered his resignation from the Woodinville Public Space Commission, effective immediately. He said his departure was not planned and comes as much as a surprise to him as it does to those he’s served with.
“I have truly enjoyed my time on the Public Spaces Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission before that, so I am sorry to be leaving now,” Hagen said. “Nonetheless, upon reflection this long Martin Luther King weekend, and in consultation with my wife, it became clear that my hours of service could be better spent elsewhere.
Mayor Elaine Cook said she was sad to hear of his resignation.
“Paul was a great addition to the Public Space Commission. He was respectful, kind, thoughtful and served for the right reasons,” Cook said. “I know he’ll be missed by those he was serving with.”
In his resignation submitted to City Manager Brandon Buchanan, Hagen listed two primary reasons for stepping away.
“First, with a young family at home, a career in educational leadership and several volunteer commitments to various community groups and nonprofit organizations, my time is precious, and it is evident now that it is better spent pursuing endeavors beyond the Public Spaces Commission,” he wrote. “I will continue to serve Woodinville and the wider community, but I believe I can be of better service outside of the formal structure of city government.”
The second, and more important reason, which he said was very troubling to him, was that his record as a Public Spaces Commissioner was distorted and diminished by some councilmembers during the recent election.
“How disingenuous and deceitful it was for city leaders to misrepresent my record, question my commitment and mistrust my motives as a city volunteer,” Hagen wrote. “I have served every community I have lived in for the last 30 years and have been employed continuously for the last 28 years. During that time, I have not once been accused of shirking my volunteer or professional responsibilities, failing to meet my obligations or exhibiting anything less than a commendable work ethic. Even during the campaign, not once did a councilmember, concern with me about my work on the Public Spaces Commission.
“Indeed, if there had been a real concern, it would only be right for it to have been brought directly to me instead of manipulating it for political gain. Regretfully, I was not afforded even that, the most common of courtesies. This was certainly because there was no real concern at all, but rather only a scurrilous, baseless attack for political gain. How disappointing.”
Last week Hagen said fellow commissioners approached him with the hope of electing him Chair of the Public Spaces Commission at their next scheduled meeting, but he could not in good conscience accept their endorsement.
“While becoming the chair would have certainly been a great honor and a wonderful opportunity to help guide the important work of the Public Spaces Commission, I cannot accept such a role,” he replied. “How could I have been recently and unjustly attacked by current councilmembers, and how could I even continue on the Commission after my character, work ethic, and commitment to service have been so impugned by our city leaders? It is clear that members of the current council do not value my work and volunteer service, nor do they have the decency to discuss any concerns they may have with me directly. And so, I cannot in good conscience continue as a Public Spaces Commissioner in support of the current City Council.
“It should be clear that when councilmembers attack good city volunteers, those volunteers leave. When city leaders put their own political aspirations above common decency, civil discourse, and customary decorum, they disgrace the office they have been entrusted with and breed distrust and apathy amongst their constituents. When elected officials cling to power and forfeit integrity, the community suffers.”