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Langley searches for city attorney

Langley councilmen Hal Seligson and Bruce Allen listen to Mayor Fred McCarthy discuss the city
Langley councilmen Hal Seligson and Bruce Allen listen to Mayor Fred McCarthy discuss the city's termination of its legal contract with Kenyon Disend while they review their council meeting packets.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Legal work in Langley will have new authors this fall.

The small South Whidbey city is looking for a new contract attorney after little more than a year with Issaquah-based firm Kenyon Disend.

Mayor Fred McCarthy, who was appointed by city council in late February to replace Larry Kwarsick, informed council members he terminated the city’s legal contract.

In the brief boiler plate termination letter dated June 5, no reason is given for the city to end its contract with Kenyon Disend.

“My understanding was that there was concern by the council about continuing the relationship,” McCarthy said. “The city council wanted to select new legal representation for the city and requested that I undertake this process shortly after my appointment.”

The decision to part ways with the attorneys, or at least the way the termination was carried out, was not unanimous among council members. Councilman Hal Seligson, who served as mayor pro tem after Kwarsick resigned and sought council appointment to the mayor’s office, said he wanted the process to be more thorough than a termination letter.

“I felt, quite frankly, that it would have been appropriate to have discussed the circumstances with the attorneys prior to the decision or announcement of the decision,” Seligson said.

Council did not officially vote on the termination, however. The mayor said it was a general consensus that he was tasked with finding new legal representation for Langley.

Kenyon Disend was paid $45,093.97 by Langley for its legal services from April 2012 to June 5 this year. Part of that year included the period when former Mayor Larry Kwarsick was forced out of office for tampering with a public document while serving as planning director.

Langley went through the attorney search process in January 2012. That came after the city terminated its contract with Weed, Graafstra & Benson, Inc.

The next firm, McCarthy said, should be one with experience serving small cities like Langley, which has a population of about 1,200. Its contract will run three years without automatic renewal. Other than minor language changes, such as the addition of McCarthy’s name, the RFP was the same one used last year.

Interviews are tentatively scheduled for July 15-27.

All bids are due to Langley by July 12. The new firm is scheduled to assume the workload by early August.

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