Harris-011421

One week since the sudden departure of Mayor Elaine Cook to New Zealand, the remaining Woodinville City Council members elected a new leader: Gary Harris. 

Harris, who had been deputy mayor, began his new mayoral role immediately after council appointed him in a 5-1 vote on Tuesday, Jan. 5. The one outstanding vote belonged to Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders, who voted for herself. 

I'm very pleased to have been elected mayor,” Harris said. “Hopefully, at some point again in the not-too-distant future, we get to meet again in person, and then things will be a little more normal. 

This is not the first time Harris has had a gavel in his hand, he noted. He has been president of the English Hill Homeowners Association, chair of the Washington State Pharmacy Commission, president of a Parent Teacher Association and chair of the University of Washington Pharmacy Alumni Association. 

Harris, now retired, said he was a pharmacist for almost 50 years, which instilled in him a data-driven mindset. This outlook allows him to take into account all costs, benefits and burdens for those impacted, he said.  

Once COVID-19 gets under control, Harris said, he hopes to see a return of people to restaurants and businesses so the city’s sales tax revenue will come back up. Then, next year, he wants the city to have a more aggressive Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) project list. 

In another 5-1 vote, Councilmember Les Rubstello was elected as deputy mayor. Again, the lone “no” vote was cast by Boundy-Sanders, who had nominated herself. Harris said he is looking forward to working alongside Rubstello and City Manager Brandon Buchanan, just as he had with Cook.  

I thought Elaine was a great mayorI learned a lot from her about just talking to people in town,” he said. “In my run as mayor, I hope to get to know more people. If you see me shopping at Haggen's or you see me sitting in a restaurant or something, you shouldn't feel that you can't come over and say‘Hi. I want to be approachable and I want to listen to what you have to say. 

Harris, who still has an active pharmacist license, is currently trying to become a volunteer for the Public Health Reserve Corps. With experience giving hundreds of flu shots and other injections, he wants to help give COVID-19 vaccines to members of the public. 

“I feel like I've had a fairly decent life. I haven't had too many nasty things happen to me,” he said. “And so, I should be giving back. If I'm able to do it, I should be out there doing it, whether it's being on city council or being on a professional board or giving vaccines.” 

According to Buchanan, council has 90 days from the date of vacancy to appoint a new councilmember. In this case, the deadline to fill the open seat is March 29.  

Councilmembers chose an option that would take 29 days to interview and appoint a resident of Woodinville to the open seat. 

“I think we need to be aware that we still have work to do,” Councilmember Rachel Best-Campbell said.  

Council unanimously agreed on the second option, creating an application deadline of Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. The interview and selection date will be Tuesday, Feb. 16. 

 

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.