SEQUIM — Sequim residents galvanized by the council’s forced resignation of City Manager Charlie Bush have put together a group with seven committees to call for his reinstatement and to pursue a larger issue of seeing a change in the way the council does business.
“The silver lining to what’s happening with Charlie is it’s caused our community to wake up and say, hey now, wait a minute, what’s happening is not OK,” said Sheena Younger, who set up the Zoom meeting that ended in the formation of the Sequim Good Governance League.
“It has created this call to action in people.”
The group — informal now but considering incorporation as a nonprofit — created an online petition on Friday. By mid-afternoon Saturday, the petition demanding the Sequim City Council retain Bush had 646 signatures. It will be presented to the council at its next meeting Jan. 25.
The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/sequim-city-council-sequim-city-council-retain-charlie-bush
The Sequim Good Governance League is the result of Tuesday’s Zoom meeting, which drew more than the 100 participants permitted by the platform after a majority of the Sequim City Council voted on Monday to negotiate Bush’s resignation following a 90-minute discussion in executive session.
“Charlie has been an excellent city manager for all the time he’s been in that role,” said Ken Stringer, who heads the legal committee for the Sequim Good Governance League.
“It is beyond our comprehension why they would be seeking the resignation of an eminently capable city manager.”
Mayor William Armacost’s motion calling for Bush’s resignation passed 4-2. It was opposed by Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell and Council member Brandon Janisse, who wanted the discussion on Bush’s future with the city to be held in public.
“I think the City Council has become increasingly partisan and insular,” said Karen Hogan, communications lead for the new group.
“It feels to me like it’s run more like a country club board of directors or a home owners’ association board of directors, not as something that represents Sequim,” she said.
“The real flash point was when the council asked for Bush’s resignation and it was done in secret.”
The call for Bush’s resignation was just the most recent of questionable actions, according to Younger, Stringer and Hogan.
In addition to protesting Bush’s ouster, the new group has the “goal of ensuring good governance in Sequim and the Sequim area,” Stringer said.
Good governance means that “people are going to be transparent and accountable and are following all applicable laws and regulations when it comes to performing their duties as elected officials,” he said.
The council announced no reasons for its decision to call for Bush’s resignation.
Armacost said there was nothing illegal regarding Bush’s actions, and that the call for Bush’s resignation was “a combination of things over quite a while. This was not a knee-jerk reaction.”
Armacost declined to comment on the council’s action after the meeting.
In the past, community members opposed to the proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility planned by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in Sequim had urged Bush’s resignation for his leadership in the city’s handling of the permitting process.
In September, Bush issued statements with Armacost that it was inappropriate for the mayor to share his support for QAnon — a conspiracy theory whose supporters believe that President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping pedophiles in government, business and the media — on a KSQM radio broadcast on Aug. 27 of Coffee with the Mayor.
Both Younger and Hogan — who have been before the council on other issues — remarked on Armacost’s wearing of a Punisher skull pin — which others nationwide have described as either pro-police or pro-QAnon — during council meetings and his public support of QAnon, as well as the nature of the present council.
“Three of the four who voted for this were recently appointed within the last year, not voted in,” Hogan said.
She also said: “I think it’s dangerous to have an active QAnon supporter on the City Council as mayor, and he wears a QAnon pin during council meetings.
“They have a very select residents of Sequim that they appear to be listening to.”
When Younger set up the Zoom meeting, she thought that a few dozen might participate, she said. She was surprised when the meeting participants reached 100, people began contacting her, saying they couldn’t get in. She estimates the informal grassroots organization has about 200 members.
The seven committees are legal, communication, eleciotns — recruiting people to run for the Sequim City Council — Charlie Bush Fan Club, letter writing, rally committee and a get-out-the-vote committee.
The groups’ next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday.
For more information, see the petition and the Sequim City Council Retain Charlie Bush! Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/225532569154960/
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected]