There’s no little irony in what’s going on in the town of Pacific, whose name is defined as “appeasing, conciliatory, of a peaceful nature, mild, tranquil, calm.”
These days, Pacific – a city of 6,600 that straddles the King-Pierce County line – is anything but pacific.
It all started in a Capraesque kind of way. Distressed by what he believed to be wasteful city spending, an ordinary guy launched a grass-roots effort to oust the mayor and win the seat for himself through write-in votes. Incredibly, it worked, and he took office in January.
Only Cy Sun wasn’t Jimmy Stewart. More like Dale Washam, if the mayor’s critics are to be believed.
Like residents of Pierce County who tried to recall Washam, their embattled assessor-treasurer, a group of Pacific residents has taken the first steps to dump Sun. Their complaint filed in King County on Thursday lists page after page of “misfeasance, malfeasance and violation of oath of office.”
They claim Sun’s administrative style can be summed up as “my way or the highway” and that he has created a hostile workplace where employees fear retaliation for speaking out.
Sun made headlines by firing department heads and then getting arrested by Pacific police officers for allegedly trying to break into a city employee’s locked office. He then fired the four cops involved with his arrest – almost half of the city’s nine-officer force. He has fired at least 12 of the city’s 20 staff members, and he has admitted to destroying some city records.
A Superior Court judge will decide if the citizens’ complaints are grounds for a recall, then – unless Sun appeals to the state Supreme Court – they will have 180 days to gather about 400 signatures. Given the uproar Sun has caused, they probably won’t have much trouble getting them.
The fact that Sun – a political novice – was able to get enough Pacific residents to elect him by write-in vote indicates there was at least some level of discontent about the way the city was being run. Sun may have had worthy intentions of making the city’s administration more cost-effective, but he’s obviously gone about it in a seriously ham-handed, clueless and possibly illegal way.
Leadership is about bringing people along, not beating them down. Sun seems unaware of that, which makes him unsuitable to serve as Pacific’s mayor.