Former Puyallup mayor Kathy Turner received a thumbs-up Tuesday from a state Senate committee to be appointed to the state Public Disclosure Commission, despite opposition from the city’s current mayor and deputy mayor.
Without any discussion, the Senate Government Operations Committee recommended 6-0 that Turner and former Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger be appointed to the PDC. The full Senate has the final vote.
“I’m pleased with the decision so far. It’s not over until it’s over,” Turner said Tuesday.
This month, Puyallup’s Mayor Rick Hansen and Deputy Mayor John Knutsen emailed the committee chairwoman — Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn — to oppose Turner’s appointment.
“I observed her make many decisions that were anything but transparent while at Puyallup council meetings,” Hansen’s short email said. Emails from area residents Tim Shirts and Michael Stanzel echoed that theme.
Knutsen’s email was more detailed. It said Turner fought against televising city council meetings for years, opposed voter referendums, supported locking council members out of city hall with the exception of the council chambers and tried to stop council members and citizens from making critical remarks during public comment periods.
“The appointment of Mrs. Turner would cause the Public Disclosure Commission to lose credibility in the eyes of our community,” Knutsen wrote.
Turner said the accusations are groundless and a continuation of bitter Puyallup City Council fighting spread across several years. She had been on opposite sides from Knutsen and Hansen on several issues. She defeated Hansen by nine votes in the 2007 election. The following year, he was appointed to the council to fill a vacancy.
Turner stepped down from the council in December 2011 after 18 years on it because of a new council term-limits law, which she had voted for. In 2012, then-Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed her to the state Public Disclosure Commission, which oversees enforcement of Washington’s campaign and election laws.
Turner defended her record on the council. She cited budget concerns for opposing televising council meetings. She also said she had nothing to do with the city administration locking people and council members out of four of the five floors of the new city hall. Key cards were issued, she said, but the council members’ key cards only worked on the top floor, where the council chamber and some administrative offices are.
In 2010, Turner was on the losing side of a 4-3 council vote rejecting a measure to ban derogatory, slanderous and impertinent remarks in City Council meetings. Opponents, who won the vote, cited censorship concerns.
“We had some pretty nasty threats directed to the council and the staff,” Turner said. And sometimes, council meetings would get boisterous. “I would gavel people out of order,” Turner said.
Turner said she disagrees on philosophical grounds with a city council using referendums.
A version of this story previously appeared on the Northwest news website Crosscut.