Maureen McCarry resigns from City Council
December 20, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 10 p.m. Dec. 20, 2010
Maureen McCarry — a soft-spoken but strong advocate for environmental interests — resigned from the City Council on Monday night as she fights amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
McCarry served on the council during a hectic stretch, as members decided long-term decisions related to transportation, economic development and the environment.
The former Harborview Medical Center executive and Squak Mountain resident shaped choices related to annexation and the addition of a Swedish Medical Center campus in the Issaquah Highlands.
The council post also afforded McCarry the opportunity to observe the complicated Park Pointe transfer-of-development-rights process up close as a member of land-use committees.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my seven years on the council serving the citizens of Issaquah,” McCarry said in a statement read by Council President John Traeger. “It has been extremely valuable the time that you, the citizens, have spent e-mailing, attending and speaking to council.”
The longtime councilwoman received the ALS diagnosis in October. The neurodegenerative disease makes speaking difficult for McCarry, and she had not addressed the council during a regular meeting for months.
“The impairments resulting from this illness make it impossible to continue the work that I love,” she said in the statement. “I leave the council, not with sadness, but with joy at having served the citizens of Issaquah and pride that I have for our community.”
McCarry received a standing ovation from council members, city staffers and audience members after Traeger read the statement.
The other council members offered a poignant and tear-slicked send-off to McCarry as the board completed a final meeting for the year.
“I remember when I learned about Maureen’s diagnosis, I thought, ‘Well, here we are in the middle of budget sessions,’ and there Maureen was,” Councilman Mark Mullet said. “She’d just been diagnosed and she was there every meeting, for three hours. It’s a testament to what some of these public servants do. I think for every Rod Blagojevich, there’s 20 Maureen McCarrys.”
Councilman Fred Butler, a friend and longtime colleague, credited McCarry for spearheading the intricate decisions related to construction of the Talus urban village and undertaking other daunting tasks related to long-term plans.
“Thank you very, very much for all you have done for Issaquah and its citizens during a period of rapid growth,” Butler said.
Colleagues also interspersed personal reflections amid the policy accomplishments.
“Take care of your daughter,” Councilwoman Eileen Barber said. “She’s an absolute beautiful person and you’re a beautiful mother.”
Councilman Joshua Schaer said he found in McCarry another council member cut from the same ideological cloth.
“Maureen has been in agreement with me on many, many issues over the last three years,” he said. “We’ve seen eye to eye and worked side by side on many, many things.”
Councilman Tola Marts met McCarry as a fellow parent volunteer at Issaquah Valley Elementary School. The council members campaigned together for office last year.
“I’m eager to see what she does next,” Marts said. “Although her voice has been muted, it’s clear that her passion for Issaquah continues to ring like a bell.”
Council faces choice to select successor
McCarry stepped down less than a year into a four-year term. The future of the Position 5 seat is left to the remaining members of the council to decide.
“I know I will leave the council in good hands, as they will soon choose a successor from the many qualified applicants,” she said in the statement.
McCarry has served on the seven-member council since 2005. The tenure included a stint in the top spot, council president, through 2009. She cruised to re-election in November 2009 in a landslide against real estate agent and longtime South Cove resident Joan Probala.
The resignation caps a long record of municipal service for McCarry. Not long after she settled in Issaquah in 1993, officials appointed McCarry to the Planning Policy Commission, a frequent proving ground for future council members.
Then, after Ava Frisinger transitioned from councilwoman to mayor 12 years ago, council members selected McCarry to fill the open spot on the council. The council selected McCarry from a pool of 10 candidates to fill the seat, and she served until 2000.
McCarry opted not to run for election then, but in 2005 she eked out a 21-vote victory against opponent Bill Conley to earn a full council term.
The resignation starts a long process for the council, as members prepare to appoint a successor. The council can select the appointee in a majority decision.
Qualified candidates must be at least 18 years old, registered to vote and have been a city resident for at least a year prior to the appointment.
The council can discuss candidates’ qualifications in a closed-door executive session, but interviews and the decision must occur in public meetings.
The person then serves until the next council election. The upcoming council election is scheduled for November. The victor then serves in the Position 5 spot until Dec. 31, 2013.
Though no candidates for the post had emerged Monday, city board and commission members could be among the most likely people to apply for the open seat.
The council last appointed a member in 2006, after then-Councilwoman Nancy Davidson resigned and members tapped former Councilman Joe Forkner for the post.