Letters to the Editor | Perspective on Woodinville City Council censure

by Susan Boundy-Sanders, Woodinville

On Tuesday, March 21, the Woodinville City Council voted to censure Councilmember Rachel Best-Campbell for violations of the Council rules of procedure committed when she took it upon herself to travel to Washington DC and present herself as Woodinville's representative to Congresspeople and, through them, to at least one federal agency. I'd like to offer some perspective as to why this is important.

Federal grants can be enormous, each amounting to a year or more of Woodinville's previous capital expenditures. But of course the funds are finite. Mayor Mike Millman quoted Woodinville's federal lobbyist: "Whenever there's perceived controversy, we get kicked out of the pool in a very competitive grant process. If we don't look organized, it lessens our chances of achieving our agenda."

In January and February, the City Council held long discussions about a trip to Washington, DC, and voted to send Mayor Millman as Woodinville's representative. Ms. Best-Campbell asked a number of questions and received clear information that only the chosen representative was permitted, under the Council's rules of procedure, to undertake this task of representing the city's position to outside bodies. In fact, Ms. Campbell was instrumental in creating these rules.

Yet Ms. Best-Campbell made the choice to disregard the rules, and on March 7 reported that she had met with Senator Murray's and Representative DelBene's offices, and that "It was my deep honor to advocate on Woodinville's behalf" with our federal representatives.

Visiting Washington, DC is a new frontier for Woodinville. Although Mayor Millman has worked successfully to cultivate relationships with our federal delegation, those relationships are not as deep or durable as other jurisdictions with which we are competing. We don't know the rules of the game well enough to test them.

What we do know is that Ms. Best-Campbell has an abundant history of poorly regulated behavior, unsound choices, and regrettable reasoning. It is no accident that she was not chosen to represent Woodinville in Washington, DC.

This is just the latest, and largest, amount of taxpayer money that Ms. Best-Campbell has put at risk or outright wasted. Ms. Best-Campbell has cost Woodinville at least $30,000 in lawsuit settlement fees, possibly tens of thousands in staff time for lawsuits and records requests, and now potentially millions in federal grants. Woodinville deserves so much better.

I'm proud of the new council majority's decision to censure Ms. Best-Campbell. It takes courage to face up to a bully, especially one as vocal as Ms. Best-Campbell. I'm proud of the strides this council has made in forging a culture, and the regional and national relationships, that will help Woodinville thrive. Mike, James, Sarah, Michelle: Keep it up. You're doing a great job.

Susan Boundy-Sanders, Woodinville