Wright picked to fill vacancy, returns to Enumclaw council

While newly elected council members are being sworn in, Anthony Wright, who lost the council race against Kael Johnson, will be returning to the council after being appointed to take Enumclaw’s new Mayor Jan Molinaro’s empty council seat.

The changing face of the Enumclaw City Council has come into clear focus and, in January, a consistent governing body will be seated.

The revolving door nature of the council began in early 2017 with the resignations of Morgan Irwin and Mike Sando and the subsequent appointments of Steve Cadematori and Anthony Wright. Then came November’s general election, when those appointees ran for terms of their own; city voters had other ideas and instead chose Tony Binion and Kael Johnson for the Position 1 and Position 3 seats on the council.

Also in November, voters elected Councilman Jan Molinaro as Enumclaw’s new mayor, creating another vacancy on the council.

Additionally, it was in November that Kyle Jacobson was elected to fill the Position 5 seat. It was up for grabs, as Councilwoman Juanita Carstens had announced she would not be seeking re-election. Jacobson will take office in January.

The rest of the municipal shuffling fell into place the evening of Dec. 11.

First, Binion and Johnson raised their right hand, took the oath of office – as administered by outgoing Mayor Liz Reynolds – and stepped into their places on the council. Because they are replacing unexpired terms, they were brought on board as soon as possible.

Then came the decision to fill Molinaro’s vacancy, a process that came with a bit of drama.

First, the council bypassed its normal process, where candidates are interviewed in open session. Four candidates had filed with the city and the council elected to make its decision immediately.

Interestingly, three of the candidates were recently on the city government roster. Applying to fill the final hole on council were Cadematori, Wright and Carstens, along with Nick Cochran, a member of the city’s Design Review Board.

Councilman Chance La Fleur started the ball rolling by noting his opposition to Cadematori and Wright.

“We just came through a democratic process,” he said, where city voters had ousted the two. “It actually would be kind of disingenuous,” he added, to appoint someone who had just been voted out of office by the public.

With that, he offered a motion to appoint Carstens to fill the remaining two year’s of the Position 6 term. Part of his argument was that the council is shaping up to be inexperienced and Carstens would provide some stability in the next couple of years.

His motion went down in defeat, with only Johnson joining La Fleur. The notion that Carstens jump back onto council – in a different position – was rejected by Kim Lauk, Hoke Overland and Binion.

Overland then moved that Wright be appointed, noting that he lost a close election and adding a personal note of support. “He’s research-based,” Overland said of Wright. “He does a lot of work to prepare for a meeting.”

Wright was then appointed to the council seat, courtesy of votes by Lauk, Overland and Binion.

La Fleur was not deterred in his opposition. “It just flies in the face of what the voters just told us,” he said, referring to the appointment of someone who had been voted out of office a month earlier.

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