Enumclaw City Councilman/Mayor Pro Tempore Kevin Mahelona died Nov. 16.
The 54-year-old Mahelona suffered from acute interstitial pneumonia.
The longtime councilman was first elected in November 2001; he was re-elected twice and began serving his most recent four-year term in January 2010.
Mayor Liz Reynolds stated by phone Nov. 17, “The council has lost one heck of a council member and the community has lost one heck of a council member. He had a high level of integrity.”
The loss has reverberated on the City Council.
Councilman Jim Hogan said, “This is a true loss to the city. I’ve sat next to Kevin for almost 10 years now and can’t even begin to imagine not having him there anymore.”
Councilman Chance LaFleur was elected in 2011 and began serving in 2012. He sought out Mahelona’s advice when he decided to run.
“The best memory I have of Kevin is before I was even on council with him,” LaFleur said. “When I was debating on whether to run or not, I sought out his counsel on the matter. One question I asked him that I will always remember his answer to was: Is it really worth it, Kevin? His answer was, “It will be challenging and difficult at times, but I can tell you this, it will be worth it.””
The council will have to appoint another mayor pro tempore and the members have 90 days to fill is position. According to state law, if the council does not fill the seat, the King County Council will appoint a member.
The mayor said Mahelona made the Oct. 17 budget workshop, but had to skip the Oct. 24 workshop.
Reynolds said he wrote in an email, “(I) can’t seem to kick this cold.”
He emailed the mayor early in November and stated he thought he would miss all the meetings during the month.
“Kevin took his job seriously,” Reynolds said. “He always did what was good for the whole and set aside his personal feelings. I am really going to miss him.”