A majority of Sequim city councilors voted for city manager Charlie Bush’s resignation at Monday night’s city council meeting.
After 90 minutes of an executive session and an argument whether or not the discussion should even be public, the council agreed with Mayor William Armacost’s motion in a 4-2 vote to negotiate with Bush on his resignation, and direct city attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross to present that resignation to the city council after the two reached an agreement.
Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell and councilor Brandon Janisse voted against the decision.
“Charlie, I don’t agree with what’s going on,” Janisse said.
“I’m sorry you’re being put through this.”
Armacost said in a phone interview after the meeting that he couldn’t describe any specifics of the resignation or discussion from the executive session.
He did say there was nothing illegal regarding Bush’s actions, and that Bush’s resignation was “a combination of things over quite a while. This was not a knee-jerk reaction.”
Bush chose not to comment.
Janisse put out a statement a day later, noting: “As a leader in the City of Sequim, I value integrity and believe without it an organization will eventually have significant problems, Janisse wrote. “I also realize now, sometimes politics can win out over a leader’s abilities, as we saw last night in the request for our City Manager’s resignation.
“I in no way support the decision to request Mr. Bush’s resignation. Mr. Bush has done nothing wrong, in my opinion, and he should remain at the helm of the city. Mr. Bush came back to the city to help aid us through a pandemic, when it wasn’t required of him. He has demonstrated true leadership time and time again for the citizens of Sequim. As city councilors, we have an opportunity to affect change in a way that others in our community do not which comes with significant responsibility to act in a fair, transparent and ethical way.”
In his statement, Janisse encouraged citizens to go to the city website and review the audio and minutes from the Jan. 11 meeting.
“Become informed and engaged. We must act now because our community deserves better than what happened last night.”
Clallam County commissioner Mark Ozias, who represents east-county District 1, noted the news about Bush at a Jan. 12 commissioner meeting.
“I was personally very sorry to hear that,” Ozias said. “His engagement and leadership on any number of issues that the county and the city have collaborated on has been really important, and I’m very grateful for that. I would most especially highlight the leadership that Charlie has shown over the last year or so with regard to the COVID pandemic, the response to it and his leadership of the child care subgroup for our CARES allocations just as a couple of examples of the really important work that he’s done.
”I would just like to publicly wish Charlie the very best in his future, wherever that may lie.”
Early in the Jan. 11 meeting, Janisse asked to make the executive session public but it was voted down 3-2 with councilor Mike Pence not in the virtual meeting yet, and Ferrell and Janisse in favor of the public discussion.
Just prior to the executive session, Janisse was denied a different motion to table the discussion because it was too similar to the previous motion. Armacost said as presiding officer he could hold an executive session, and he was not willing to pull it because he felt it was the proper venue.
City clerk Sara McMillon said the only way the discussion could have been made public or tabled is if one of the city councilors who voted for the executive session (Armacost, Sarah Kincaid, and Keith Larkin) made a motion to do so, which they did not do.
Armacost said his “intention is to be totally transparent,” which Janisse scoffed at saying “like going into executive session.”
Sequim city councilors meet next Jan. 25 in a virtual meeting. No immediate details were available on Bush’s contract.
More on Bush
About 11 months ago, Bush announced his plan to resign on Feb. 10, 2020, by April 17, 2020, to climb the Appalachian Trail.
But about a month later and with the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bush asked to be reinstated which councilors agreed to do on March 23.
Bush started in Sequim on Aug. 15, 2015 as city manager, after being chosen to lead the city once Steve Burkett retired.
Last year, he said the loss of his father, and multiple other factors led to his resignation then.
Some community members against the proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility called for his resignation for his leadership over the city’s handling of the permitting process.
In September, he issued statements with Armacost that it was inappropriate for the mayor to share his support for QAnon on a KSQM radio broadcast on Aug. 27 of Coffee with the Mayor.
Bush said, “any responses to questions reflecting the personal opinion of the mayor do not reflect policy positions of the Sequim City Council or the organization.”
Last year when he announced his resignation, Bush said he went to work in city government at age 23.
As for his time in Sequim he said “it’s a great place (and) there are great people.”
In his 2020 resignation letter, Bush said working with city staff was the highlight of his career calling them “engaged, dedicated, caring and highly capable professionals working cohesively as a team.”
Former mayor Dennis Smith, who resigned on Jan. 8, said hiring Bush was one of his biggest accomplishments on city council saying, “he’s a very valuable man and has provided the city with an outstanding staff; I can’t say it enough.”
No details were made public on Bush’s replacement on Monday.
For more information on the City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar St., visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.