New Langley attorney adds wealth of city experience

Langley’s long search for new legal representation is close to an end.

After several months looking for a replacement for Kenyon Disend, Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy presented his choice for a city attorney — Jeff Taraday of the Seattle-based Lighthouse Law Group — to the city council late last month.

Taraday served as the city attorney for Woodinville for four years and has worked in land use and municipal law most of his career. Currently, Taraday and the law group represent the cities of Maple Valley and Edmonds.

“We liked the fact they had experience with much bigger government and more complex projects in Edmonds and Maple Valley,” McCarthy said, later adding, “I’m impressed with his qualifications and background in municipal law.”

The three-year contract has an opt-out clause for both the attorney and the city. Taraday’s bid was submitted with an hourly rate of $260.

Langley, which is in the process of creating its 2014 budget, has legal services limited to $35,000 but may not spend the full sum.

“We’re hoping not to spend all that,” McCarthy said.

Taraday, who is part of a three-attorney law group, set his colleagues’ hourly rates between $260 and $150. Langley’s mayor said the understanding with Taraday is that when matters can be reviewed by a qualified staff member with a lower hourly rate, they will.

“Depending on the sophistication of the legal question, he may defer the work to his associates,” McCarthy said.

As the city’s attorney, Taraday is tasked with reviewing city council packets for possible legal issues. Ahead of him is one major task: evaluating the contracts for the Second Street redesign, which is slated to begin in January 2014.

“There’s not a lot to turn over to him,” McCarthy said.

Attending every council meeting is not likely for Taraday. He prefers to “work behind the scenes,” and supports the city’s initiative to engage in video participation. If necessary or requested by the city, he will attend. Not driving over for every bi-weekly meeting will cut down on city expenses.

Though the Lighthouse Law Group represents cities larger than Langley, Taraday said the work will be similar.

“A lot of the issues that come up with larger cities can come up with smaller ones as well,” Taraday said.

Langley ended its contract with Issaquah-based Kenyon Disend after one year, shortly after the resignation of former Mayor Larry Kwarsick.

Langley City Councilmen Bruce Allen and Doug Allderdice, Planning Director Jeff Arango, Acting Police Chief David Marks and Finance Director Debbie Mahler interviewed two attorney candidates after four bids were submitted. McCarthy stayed out of the interview process but personally looked into Taraday and the Lighthouse Law Group’s background after it was recommended by the city team.

Taraday has a clean record with the Washington Bar Association with no disciplinary action on his record, according to the association’s website.


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