Susan West, Shawn McEvoy removed from Economic Development Committee


By Scott Schaefer

At Tuesday night’s (Jan. 8) rather contentious Normandy Park City Council meeting, the council voted to remove Economic Development Committee (EDC) members Susan West and Shawn McEvoy.

The motion was introduced by Deputy Mayor Mike Bishoff, and seconded by Mayor Jonathan Chicquette.

The final vote was 4–3, with Chicquette, Bishoff, Sue-Ann Hohimer and Patrick McDonald voting ‘Yes,’ while Michelle Sipes-Marvin, along with West and McEvoy, voting ‘No.’

West has been serving as Chair of the EDC since its creation in 2012, and she was clearly shocked and upset about the action. She created Zombie Fest NW, and also organized Winterfest – two local, grassroots events that have grown quickly in popularity.

It was a very lively – and oftentimes ugly – meeting full of emotions, accusations and numerous “points of order” moments as both sides went after each other.

“I think that this was personal – this was Jonathan and Mike coming after us,” West told The Normandy Park Blog. “One even told me in the parking lot later that ‘this is what you get.’ Get for what? Volunteering to help my city?”

McEvoy at one point challenged that there may have been some kind of ‘backroom conspiracy’ about this motion that possibly violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act, a claim that was quickly denied by Chicquette.

McEvoy served as Mayor for five years, and has been a Councilmember for 14 years.

West said that there are over 80 volunteer members on the EDC, many of whom may be upset by this surprise move.

“It seems that volunteers are not wanted by two people on this council…but we can still do these events on our own, keep these going but not as part of the EDC because they’ve taken this away,” she added. “It’s sad for the community – volunteers don’t seem to matter, but I’m not going to let them stop us.”

According to West, despite her being kicked off the EDC, both events will most likely continue under the direction of the 501C3 non-profit Friends of Normandy Park.

Here’s a video clip of a very lively ~30-minute portion of the meeting (you can also watch video of the full, nearly 3-hour council meeting here):

According to the city’s website:

The EDC is a City Council sanctioned committee. Read Council-approved EDC ordinance. Membership is open to the public and consists of more than 80 business and commercial property owners, residents, City staff, representatives from non-profits, and council members.

The committee selects a chair and vice-chair at the first January meeting.

  • 2017 Chair: Susan West
  • 2017 Vice-Chair: Gerry Osgood

The EDC was developed at the request of resident George Buley at the May 8, 2012 Normandy Park City Council Meeting. Former Mayor Susan West, volunteered to chair the group. Since then, the group has met over 150 times and has generated ideas for attracting new businesses and advocating on behalf of our current business community through promotion of Normandy Park’s unique local character, which makes it an attractive place to live, visit, play and shop. Our Mission is to be a community-minded committee that attracts and enhances new and existing local businesses.

Here’s the language of the motion from the agenda packet:

“Removal of committee members from the Economic Development Committee and 2019 committee assignments -Jonathan Chicquette, Mayor (Per NPMC 2.02.310 -Prior to the scheduled council meeting, if a councilmember has a concern of the recommended appointment, it should be addressed to the mayor prior to the meeting) (Ord. 942)

“Requested Action: ‘I move to remove Councilmembers West and McEvoy from the Economic Development Committee and approve the newly assigned 2019 committees as presented.'”

Here’s an email that was sent out by West to the members of the EDC:

Hello My Friends,

I’m writing to inform you that Mayor Jonathan Chicquette has made the decision to remove Council Member Shawn McEvoy and I from the City of Normandy Park Economic Development Committee. During a 1:1 meeting last week that he requested, he informed me that I’ve been on the committee too long, it was someone else’s turn, and that only new Council Members would be able to offer new ideas, discouraging long-term volunteerism.

Despite monthly EDC updates and minutes, the Mayor was unaware the EDC continually brainstorms on new ideas, and that all people with an economic stake in the city are encouraged to attend meetings, share ideas, call or communicate in any way with myself and other members. This list to date includes Dr. Stan Harris, Tom O’Keefe, Steve and Kyle Nordby and Alek Yeremeyev, and business owners and managers who have been invited to and attended the EDC business networking events. In fact, just a couple years ago, business owners from the Burien side of 1st Avenue attended several of our meetings. This information did not persuade the Mayor to drop his plan to remove me or Shawn.

On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, during the 7 p.m. meeting, the Mayor will ask the City Council to remove us from the EDC and replace us with two other Council Members: Mike Bishoff and Michelle Sipes-Marvin. All Council Members have always had the opportunity to provide ideas for increasing revenue regardless of being on the EDC – especially those on the Finance Committee. But it has continued to be the EDC that brainstorms, researches and recommends practical ideas and rules out unattainable ones.

The Mayor is open about his desire to restrict the public – residents, business leaders and commercial property owners – from membership on the EDC. His wish is to turn the EDC into a three Council Member-only committee, or turn it into a Commission which means only seven people can be members. Interested people must formally apply to be on the EDC, and then are approved or rejected by the Mayor and Council. The Mayor brought up the Commission to me again last week when he told me he was removing me from the EDC. If the EDC becomes a Commission, the format of the meetings will change. Robert’s Rules will be enforced which means our casual style of discussing ideas and brainstorming will be eliminated. Normandy Park is a unique and small community which is why the current format has worked.

As a result of posts on Nextdoor.com and the released City Council agenda, I have been contacted by residents. The majority are upset and do not want the Mayor to change the EDC. The others don’t understand why this is happening and asked for clarification. I am truly humbled and grateful for your support. It saddens me that the EDC members like you are being forced to make changes that none of us expected or deserve.

If you want to voice your opinion about the Mayor’s proposal, I urge you to email or call the Council Members before Tuesday. Their contact information is on the City website: https://normandyparkwa.gov/city-council/ Also, here is the Council email: [email protected]. The Nextdoor.com site also provides an opportunity to voice opinions to neighbors. On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, I hope you will attend the Council meeting at 7 p.m. and offer to speak during the 3-minute public comment period which begins at the start of the meeting.

Thank you for your kind words and support for all the work that the EDC has accomplished since we launched. The EDC began in 2012 at a City Council meeting (Thank you George Buley) in an era when the concept of an economic development committee that is open to public membership, supports partnerships and dialogue between the City and its residents/business, and launches unique projects, programs and events, was supported. I strongly doubt that has changed with our current EDC membership. Our successful shared efforts convince me that’s what still works and is needed more than ever.

It has been a wonderful journey. Attached is a summary of our accomplishments and the 2018/2019 Action Plan we created last year – which includes our new and ongoing ideas.

Thank you again for this opportunity to serve with you – and champion your desire to help Normandy Park’s economic health. Together, I believe we can continue to make Normandy Park a thriving community for everyone – residents, businesses, investors and those who come to use our services and merchants.

Thank you,
Susan West
206-818-6945

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have reached out to other councilmembers for comment, and will do a followup story (or stories) once we receive response(s). As of Thursday, Jan. 10 at 4 p.m. we had only received comments from West.


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