Commissioners for three drainage districts were sworn in during a ceremony June 10 at Enumclaw City Hall, marking a new chapter for a troubled district embroiled in scandal in recent months.
Six commissioners were appointed to King County Drainage Districts 6 and 13, filling three vacant seats in each district. Three commissioners who had previously been confirmed by the King County Council were additionally sworn in for Drainage District 5 after previous commissioners had resigned following media attention and multiple law enforcement investigations.
Mark Van Wiernigan, David Ballestrasse and Alan Predmore were sworn in for District 5. For District 6, John Koopman, Cathy Dahlquist and Kenny Bosnik were sworn in. John Millarich, Jim Puttman and Brad Goodwin were appointed to be commissioners for District 13.
“I am grateful to our new commissioners for stepping up to serve the Enumclaw plateau,” said King County Council member Reagan Dunn in a statement. “They’re eager to be able to get to work serving the farmers and residents around Enumclaw who rely on drainage ditches, and I’m confident that they will bolster transparency and public trust.”
Drainage districts are special purpose districts that generally serve a single function, in this case maintaining and clearing debris from ditches in rural areas around Enumclaw. They are governed by a three-member body that serve sfor six-year terms, with one member elected in each even numbered year. Because the recent commissioners are appointees, they will all be up for election in February 2020.
District 5 was rocked by a scandal earlier this year after it was found a commissioner, Allan Thomas, had not filed for election since 1986 and several Drainage District seats were technically vacant. Districts 6 and 13 were not involved in investigations into District 5, which allege former commissioner Thomas stole at least $413,000 from taxpayers over eight years.
A 2019 Washington State Auditor’s report seemed to show Thomas misused hundreds of thousands of dollars that had been collected from around 600 residents in the district to service around 18 miles of drainage ditches. Thomas has not yet been charged with any crime. The county prosecutor’s office is expected to make a decision on whether it will charge Thomas in coming weeks.
More information on Thomas can be found online at The Courier-Herald’s website.