Edgewood city manager’s employment ends as strong-mayor era begins

Edgewood City Manager Mark Bauer is no longer leading the city after the City Council unanimously approved a severance agreement at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Assistant City Manager Eric Phillips said the decision was made in preparation for Edgewood’s change to a strong-mayor form of government, narrowly approved by voters in November.

The East Pierce city of 9,400 residents is making a transition from a council-manager government, in which a city manager runs day-to-day operations, to a strong-mayor system that shifts those responsibilities to an elected mayor.

“In light of the City’s pending change of government schedule, the City and Mark have reached an amicable, professional decision to discontinue his employment on terms that are mutually acceptable to both parties,” Phillips wrote in an email to The News Tribune.

The newspaper has requested a copy of the severance agreement.

Bauer couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. He was Edgewood’s city manager for about five years.

The mayoral election is Aug. 4. Current Edgewood Mayor Daryl Eidinger, who was appointed to the position by fellow council members, and Wendal Kuecker have both filed to run for the new strong-mayor position, which carries a four-year term.

Phillips was appointed Tuesday to fill in as acting city manager until the election results are certified in August.

The change-of-government measure was spurred by a citizen-led petition that circulated last spring.

One of its organizers is resident Eric Docken, who filed a lawsuit in January that ultimately led the city to overturn a contentious and short-lived utility tax.

A letter that circulated along with the petition last year referred to the defeated tax and suggested the proposed change in government was meant to take power away from Bauer.

The measure passed in the general election by a margin of 31 votes.

South Sound cities rarely change their form of government. Federal Way was the last to switch to a strong-mayor system five years ago.