Kirkland City Council creates task force to develop code of ethics

Ethics-Task-Force At its meeting on Tuesday, April 6, the Kirkland City Council voted unanimously to create a five-member citizen task force to draft a code of ethics and code of conduct for city council members.

The task force will meet for the next few months, taking input from city council members and Kirkland citizens, state laws, and model ethics and conduct codes from other governments around the country. The task force will receive staff support from the City Attorney’s office and the City Manager’s office, and may consult outside experts as needed. The draft will be presented to the city council for consideration later this year. After the code is adopted, it may be expanded to cover other boards and commissions.

Ten individuals submitted applications for appointment to the task force before the deadline. The following five were appointed to the task force on Tuesday:

  • Mary-Alyce Burleigh, retired educator, former Mayor and member of the Kirkland City Council, and founder and former co-chair of the Kirkland Alliance of Neighborhoods;
  • Kathy Gilles, Corporate Compliance and Privacy Officer at Evergreen Hospital, and member of Evergreen’s Ethics Committee;
  • Carolyn Hayek, attorney, former District Court judge in Federal Way, former national Governance Committee Chair for AAUW, and former member of the Kirkland Planning Commission;
  • Toby Nixon, Senior Standards Program Manager at Microsoft, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, and former state representative for the 45th District; and,
  • Sharon Sherrard, retired educator, chair of the Kirkland Interfaith Network, and leader at Lake Washington United Methodist Church.

The city staff report to the council mentioned the following elements that are included in ethics codes of other jurisdictions, and will be considered for inclusion in the Kirkland code:

  • Conflicts of interest
  • Acceptance of gifts and favors
  • Disclosure of confidential information
  • Employment after public service
  • Use of public office or property for personal gain
  • Limitations on campaign activities
  • Representation of private interests
  • Council conduct with other public agencies
  • Incompatible employment or activity
  • Nepotism
  • Individual Council members meeting with individuals or outside agencies

The staff report also mentioned the following elements included in conduct codes of other jurisdictions:

  • Serve as a model of leadership and civility to the community
  • Demonstrate honesty and integrity
  • Practice professionalism and decorum in discussions and debate
  • Avoid personal comments that could offend others
  • Be punctual and keep comments relevant to topics discussed
  • Treat all staff as professionals
  • Be respectful of diverse opinions
  • Listen attentively

The first meeting of the task force, along with members of the ad hoc ethics subcommittee of the city council (Mayor McBride and Councilmembers Asher and Marchione), is planned for April 26.