By Alia Sinclair

SeaTac Council Chambers were packed with residents supporting now-former City Manager Carl Cole at Tuesday night’s (April 23, 2024) SeaTac City Council meeting.

Formerly serving as SeaTac Police Chief for many years, Cole has served as SeaTac’s City Manager since 2019, navigating the city through the pandemic and beyond.

As the meeting opened, many residents took to the podium to make public comments expressing their gratitude for Cole’s service and their dismay at his sudden resignation.

Council records show that the Council met for an executive session on March 26, 2024, to discuss the removal of Cole. No vote or action was taken at that time.

Cole handed in his resignation the next day, March 27.

Additionally, an agenda item putting forth a motion approving a contract between the City and William Appleton to act as Interim City Manager was removed prior to the April 23 council meeting at the request of Mayor Mohamed Egal.

The unclear nature of the sequence of events caused alarm and suspicion among residents. Many voiced concerns that Cole was being forced to resign due to conflicts between himself and the council.

During the meeting, Cole was given time to make a statement in which he said:

“I know there’s been a lot of angst in and around the City and City Hall over my resignation. I just want everyone to know that this was my decision. There was no vote taken to separate me. And if one were taken it doesn’t do anyone any good to speculate on how it would turn out. I know that I enjoy tremendous support from [the] community. But I also enjoy tremendous support from [the] Council. However, I do not enjoy the universal support from [the] Council. Which is not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s simply a fact. However, it is critically important to me. And for that reason, the Council and I have agreed on my separation as described in the Resolution tonight. For the sake of my health, it is in my best interest to proceed. I love working at SeaTac and I always looked at my time here as a privilege. Thank you to all.”

In Council Comments, all members praised Cole for his collaboration, knowledge, and leadership throughout his tenure with the City and the tumultuous years of the pandemic.

In his comments, Councilmember Joe Vinson said:

“If I could put you on the spot, is there any way we could get you to stay longer, if I’m okay to ask that? Just until we can secure the transitional period because I do have some concerns.”

Cole answered, stating:

“I will say this has been an emotional decision and I would like to get through this tonight and then sit on it and see what it’s like not to have stress over my head every day and then answer that question. But I would say I would not take any options off of the table.”

When put to a vote, the Resolution passed 4-2. The full Resolution can be viewed here.

Cole will receive a lump sum severance payment equal to eleven months of his current salary – approximately $207,240.

Alia Sinclair is a writer residing in SeaTac. She is passionate about the arts and connecting people through the written word, and is the founder and editor-in-chief of Patchwork Mosaic magazine for creatives.