On Tuesday, March 19, the Lewis County Board of Commissioners Edna Fund and Bobby Jackson along with Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Meyer met to discuss the illegal seating of Winlock City Council member Jodie Curtis. The illegal appointment process was discovered during the whistleblower act investigation.
The prosecuting attorney confirmed it was not done procedurally correct, thus making the position illegal for the past year. Mayor Bradshaw and City Attorney Erin Hillier of Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly PS., both disagree with the decision by Prosecuting Attorney Meyer. The same law firm was involved in illegal appointments in Napavine and disagreed with Meyer then as well.
Commissioner Fund asked several questions, she asked if the vote was unanimous for councilor Curtis. It was unanimous, but no one was aware that Mayor Bradshaw had directed his council to vote for Barb Pedersen and Jodie Curtis. Mayor Bradshaw had made his choice for council and they would continue his agenda as evident in their voting record.
The Commissioners made the decision to reappoint Ms. Curtis to the position even though City Attorney Erin Hillier and Mayor Bradshaw felt it was not necessary. RCW 42.12.070 does not allow for two councilmembers to be sworn in at the same time. Mayor Bradshaw stated on the record it was "defensible in court," but Prosecutor Meyer made the decision that it was illegal and councilwoman Curtis was reappointed. Reaffirming what the Town Crier had reported, the position was illegal due to the procedure of appointment.
Commissioner Fund stated "I asked if any votes would have been changed if a different city councilor had been chosen." Mayor Bradshaw answered "no." There have been times where councilwoman Curtis was the tie breaking vote. Mayor Bradshaw knew this as there have been times he asked councilwoman Curtis to make a motion when others would not. Mayor Bradshaw was aware of contention with his council when Andrew Maloney was a council member causing many tie votes. The Mayor was aware.
In a quick review of the months from December 2018, until the first of February, 2019 there were five occurrences where councilwoman Curtis voted. The major issues were the budget, public gifting of funds and Mayor Pro Tem.
The budget is still an issue as the city is currently paying over 60% in employee wages and benefits. Mayor Bradshaw stated on the record in December he would revisit the budget in January of 2019. It has not been done to this date. Was this just to get his budget passed? Is this what we should expect from the Mayor's remaining term?
Mayor Bradshaw was not absent at any of the above mentioned meetings. Is it not the responsibility of the Mayor to tell the Board of County Commissioners and the prosecutors the truth of the different times councilor Curtis was the tie breaking vote? Will the Mayor do the right thing now and call the commissioners and prosecuting attorney, and tell them he was mistaken? If someone has integrity, they admit to their mistakes, will Mayor Bradshaw admit his?
Recently, it was reported in the Town Crier that Mayor Bradshaw was not happy with the three candidates for the open council position vacated by Andrew Maloney in February. The applicants are Paul MacMillian, Lonnie Dowell and Jeremy Allman. Mayor Bradshaw had chosen Brandon Svenson, who withdrew his application when he found out he was chosen by Bradshaw and he would be voted in as the next council member. Dowell and Allman were both told interviews would take place on February 26 but Svenson withdrew on February 21.
While Svenson was still in the office on February 21, 2019, Mayor Bradshaw informed Winlock City Clerk Theda Curry that she was to extend the advertising for two more weeks; even though they had three candidates and at a cost of $200.
Why would this decision be made if there were the same number of applicants they had when Andrew Maloney was appointed? What was the problem with the three candidates?
With the extension of the advertising a candidate was found. The candidate is the husband of current council member Barbara Pedersen, Trig Pedersen. It took almost two months, but Mayor Bradshaw has his candidate.
The vacant position was voted on Monday, March 25.