The reign of the Pacific mayor who brought drama to the small city by firing multiple department heads and refusing to provide information to other elected officials is over.
The King County Election Board on Tuesday ratified results from a special recall election against Cy Sun, saying the “turnout was strong.” About 65 percent of the city’s 2,900 registered voters cast ballots in favor of recalling the embattled public official. Results show residents voted 949 to 502 on the question.
Sun has not been seen in City Hall since initial results were released June 25. He did not attend Monday night’s council meeting and did not return a call for comment Tuesday.
“It’s a good end to a long story,” said Tracey Apata, a business owner and member of the Committee to Recall Cy Sun. “The writing was on the wall. Now (the council) has him gone and they can do what they need to do.”
Mayor Pro Tem James McMahan is now in charge. One of his first steps is to begin talking to surrounding cities about drawing up inter-local agreements to help fill some of the empty positions in Pacific, including the city clerk and public works director positions.
Sun’s antics drew attention to the small city that straddles the Pierce-King County line.
He was elected in 2011 via a write-in campaign, winning by 64 votes. He drew ire from many residents when he fired several people in the city or caused their resignations, arguing he was fighting corruption.
He fired the police chief and city clerk, among others. At one point he was arrested by the city’s police and later released for trying to enter the city clerk’s locked office while she was on medical leave.
A court eventually ordered him to fill the positions. The ex-city clerk won a $175,000 wrongful termination suit against the city. Pacific was forced to take out an expensive, higher-risk insurance policy after its provider terminated coverage because of the city’s instability.
The recall was based on two allegations against Sun:
• That he tried to use the police department as his personal investigative force.
• That he jeopardized the city’s liability insurance coverage by not filling vacant department head positions.
The fight ended up in King County Superior Court, where a judge ruled the charges, if true, would be grounds for Sun to be dismissed. The mayor appealed the ruling to the Washington State Supreme Court, where he lost.
Sun said the allegations were “baseless,” but contended the only reason he took the matter to the higher court was because he was mad at his opponents. He claimed they’d questioned whether he attended a Korean War veterans reunion, insinuating he lied to delay the recall proceedings.
“I lost a kidney, I got a bullet in my back, I’ve got a steel plate in my head, “ Sun said at the time. “When you (his opponents) said I lied, that I didn’t go to the reunion, I got mad.”
The mayor said he’s spent more than $100,000 of his own money for legal representation to fight the recall and for other court proceedings. Court records show the city was ordered to cover about $39,000 of his representation for legal battles not associated with the recall.
His opponents said they spent close to $37,000 on the recall effort. The special election could cost Pacific as much as $15,000, according to King County Elections.
Residents and public officials said they’re glad to get out of the spotlight and get on with business.
“There are quite a few things that need to get done,” said Leanne Guier, council president. “This is a big step. Now the process can begin. Before, nothing was getting done.”
The City Council held a special meeting Tuesday night to accept nominations for mayor. Residents can ask the candidates questions Wednesday night at a town hall meeting. The council will reconvene Thursday night and appoint a new mayor, whose term will end in December 2015.Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
Staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.