The door could still be open for a sanctuary city vote in Langley, though what it might look like is unclear.
Following a one-hour-long public comment period at Monday night’s Langley City Council meeting that included over a dozen testimonies by advocates of the proposal, Councilwoman Rene Neff moved that an inclusive city ordinance be drafted by the city attorney. Her request was seconded by Councilman Thomas Gill and subsequently approved in a 3-0 vote.
Councilman Bruce Allen appeared to abstain, saying “I’m going to pass on this,” and Councilwoman Dominique Emerson was absent.
Neff, who recently announced she will resign this summer or sooner for personal and family obligations, proposed the ordinance teary-eyed during her council report. She did so in follow-up to a request made by Langley resident Peter Morton in a public comment, who asked that the council consider creating a draft ordinance.
“I’m having a very hard time tonight, because the testimonies that were given tonight were just so close to my heart,” said Neff as she wiped away tears from her eyes. “…even if we don’t pass it, if we at least had it to look at, I would really like to see that happen. So, I propose we ask our lawyer to draft an ordinance that would be an inclusive ordinance and include the two things that were mentioned so we can see what that looks like to at least consider it.”
The sample ordinance, however, may not contain any language that would put the city at legal risk. While Neff requested the ordinance contain language that would jive with advocates’ requests to protect immigrants and instruct police not to cooperate with federal immigration laws, Mayor Tim Callison asked during the meeting if City Hall could provide city attorney Mike Kenyon of Issaquah-based Kenyon Disend with guidance on the ordinance to ensure the document is “legal” and without any chance of violating officials’ oaths of office. Neff agreed.
“Maybe he could look at some of the other cities that have done this to see what they have done,” Neff said.
When later asked for clarification by a Record reporter, Callison said his interpretation of the exchange was that the “ordinance would not include anything” that would lead to a violation of oath of office. Callison has asserted in the past that not cooperating with federal immigration officials is against the law and that he was considering resigning as mayor if the city council approved an ordinance that restricted city officials from doing so.
Callison said Tuesday morning the ordinance will essentially contain the language of an inclusive city resolution passed by the city council on Feb. 21 but in ordinance form.
“She wanted some kind of sample ordinance that might convert the resolution language into ordinance form,” Callison said.
Neff could not be reached for clarification by press time Tuesday afternoon.
In an email to The Record on Tuesday morning, Callison said the sample ordinance is for discussion purposes only.
“There are already those that are misinterpreting this as a move on the council’s part to move to the next step of ordinance adoption,” Callison wrote.