With her last day scheduled for Dec. 28, Mayor Elaine Cook and her family will be moving to New Zealand two years short of her term’s expiration. 

The mayor officially announced this news to staff on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Cook denied various requests for comment, saying she felt “too emotional and sad” to talk about her leaving. No information has been shared regarding her reason for leaving the country or the duration of her stay.

“Councilmember Cook, and later Mayor Cook, was a champion of relentless forward progress,” City Manager Brandon Buchanan said. “I count her not just as a coworker, but a friend. And I know I’m not alone in saying we’ll miss her, but also wish her the best.” 

According to Buchanan, anyone who witnessed the joint State of the City presentation to the Chamber of Commerce in early 2020 got to see exactly how the duo worked together.  

“She often had me scratching or shaking my head, but it was impossible to be upset by it because you knew it came only from the best of hearts and intentions,” Buchanan said. “It was that same place from which all her efforts sprung in that relentless forward progress form of hers.”

Buchanan said the council will discuss a plan for recruitment of a new member and adopt a resolution at the next meeting, which is Jan. 5, 2021. The council has 90 days from the date of the vacancy to fill the seat, he added. The process will include a solicitation of applications, interviews and eventual selection. 

Buchanan said he would anticipate the council appointing a new member in late February or early March at one of its regular meetings. He noted that exact dates will ultimately be put forward at the Jan. 5 meeting. 

Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders compared Cook’s sudden departure to that of James Evans, the previous mayor, in 2019. With the next council appointment, she said, this means three of seven council members will have been appointed, not elected to their positions. 

Cook was first elected to the city council in 2015 and reelected in 2019. She was chosen by council to become mayor at the end of February, 2019. Prior to the move, her term was set to expire Dec. 31, 2023.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert said she was impressed with Cook’s desire to help others, even before she was elected to council. Cook really did her homework about the community, she noted.

“No matter where she goes, she lights up the room,” she said. “She is loved by so many people because of her kindness and openness and willingness to get involved. She just quietly went around doing good things.”

Lambert applauded Cook for working hard to renovate DeYoung Park, which has become a staple for city events and celebrations. She said the mayor was constantly trying to find win-win situations for all people in the community. 

With five Woodinville City Council seats up for election on next year’s November ballot, Boundy-Sanders urges “smart, wise and truthful” candidates to run for the open positions.

“I wish Elaine's family, and especially her children, all the best in the many changes that appear to be ahead of them,” Boundy-Sanders said. 

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