Kirkland City Council passes code of ethics

City of Kirkland - Contributed
City of Kirkland
— image credit: Contributed

After two years of research, debate, committees and council discussions the Kirkland City Council unanimously approved a code of ethics.

“It’s been a two-year process and we are happy that it is done,” said Councilman Toby Nixon.

The council voted to approve the code of ethics Tuesday during its regularly scheduled meeting. Nixon was an instrumental figure in crafting the code of ethics, serving as the chair of the ethics task force prior to his election to council.

“As you know, I am kind of in love with this,” joked Nixon. “I have spent a lot of time on this.”

The code of ethics will be applied to City of Kirkland boards, commissions and the city council. It is broken down into three sections, including policy and rules; an ethics board to deliberate on ethics infractions and complaints; and addressing infractions.

Nixon and the other council members acknowledged all the city staff that helped craft the code of ethics and how much work went into the process.

The work was not just done by city staff. The ethics task force, comprised of Nixon, Mary-Alyce Burleigh, Kathy Gilles, Carolyn Hayek and Sharon Sherrard was appointed in April 2010. The task force came up with the draft code of ethics by looking at what many other cities and public agencies have implemented.

“It was fun being chair of a task force that was all women,” joked Nixon.

Nixon also singled out Mayor Joan McBride, Deputy Mayor Doreen Marchione and Councilman Dave Asher for serving on the ethics committee, along with city attorney Robin Jenkinson.

“I think she probably put in way more time than anyone else in editing many, many drafts. Being our researcher and finding information about codes of ethics from cities all over that we could look at as examples,” said Nixon of Jenkinson.

On Tuesday, there was just one issue that Nixon pointed out with the code and an amendment was unanimously approved to move the process forward to the final vote.

During the process, the council, committees, task force and city staff all looked to citizens for input.

“I want to thank the citizens of Kirkland who were involved in the process,” said Nixon, singling out Bea Nahon.

The need for a code of ethics came from several ethical and legal scandals that dogged the council from 2008-2010. Two council members were investigated for ethical issues, resulting in one being disciplined and one being cleared.

McBride made the issue of a code of ethics a big part of her agenda when she was originally elected Mayor in 2010.

“It took a long time but we got it right,” said McBride.

The two-year process also included bringing in outside help.

Wayne Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, was brought on to give advice. Barnett conducted a review of the draft code of ethics as one of his responsibilities under an agreement entered between the city and the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission for the administration of the code of ethics.


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