Mayor or not, Langley council gets back to business

Mayor or not, the Langley City Council will conduct business as usual in the new year.

Mayor or not, the Langley City Council will conduct business as usual in the new year.

The first regular business meeting since Mayor Larry Kwarsick pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor Dec. 17 will be held Monday, Jan. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

But don’t expect to see the mayor.

“Larry won’t be there,” said Hal Seligson, mayor prot-tem, on Friday. “I will chair the meeting as mayor pro-tem.”

Kwarsick confirmed in an email to the Record on Friday that he will not attend the meeting. He said he will be “making a longer term decision shortly,” in  his brief response to an email inquiry.

The council held a special meeting in December after Kwarsick pleaded guilty. Council members were mostly supportive of the mayor at the time, but later all five members called for the mayor to resign. Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks influenced minds by filing a lawsuit Dec. 21, demanding that Kwarsick resign from office due to his “malfeasance” in public office.

Kwarsick told the Record that he had 20 days to respond to the lawsuit and decide whether to fight to keep his part-time job as mayor. He hasn’t spoken to any city council member since his guilty plea for “falsifying a city document” when he was the city’s planning director. Part of his sentence includes 15 days in jail, commencing Feb. 3.

Seligson said he won’t say any more about the mayor because of the legal situation. “It’s a matter of his mayoralty pending a hearing before a judge,” he said. “I’ve already explained what I have to say.” He added that to his knowledge, Kwarsick hasn’t resigned.

If Kwarsick should resign or be ousted, Seligson said the process will be similar to replacing a council member. The open position would be announced and the council would select a qualified individual from among the applicants. He or she would serve until the next general election.

The Jan. 7 agenda includes a time for public comment. Citizens can speak for up to 5 minutes on any subject.

Other items include discussions of the city’s ethics policy, whistle blower policy, and goals and accomplishments.

Seligson said he campaigned on the need for better ethics and whistleblower policies. Right now, he has a simpler goal. “Number one is making it clear to people that their government is still functioning, doing the public’s business and moving forward,” he said.