Our mayor, Elaine Cook, is about to leave town and is trying to hide that fact from us. The city staff has known this for weeks, as have most of the city councilors. Mayor Cook has also shared this news with elected officials at the school district, in other cities and on King County Council. But she has failed to tell her own constituents, choosing instead to conceal it from the public and deciding that the voters of Woodinville should stay in the dark. Mayor Cook is free to leave Woodinville, of course, but to do so without informing the public is reminiscent of the departure of our last mayor, James Evans, who resigned a few days AFTER candidate filing week in May 2019 even though he had started a job in Washington DC in January. Such timing robbed the voters of Woodinville the opportunity to elect a replacement and instead let the Council handpick their friend, Rachel Best-Campbell, without due electoral process. 

Sadly, Woodinville seems to be following the unfortunate trend we see on the national level, with some of our elected leaders on the City Council choosing concealment over transparency, cronyism over the electoral process, lies over the truth, and suppression over open dialogue. While Elaine Cook’s actions—and those of her allies on the Council—are legal, they essentially block the public from voting for their representatives, which breaks democratic norms. Unfortunately, this sort of unethical behavior is commonplace in the Woodinville City Council. Whether recently blocking all public comments, potentially violating the Open Public Meeting Act by privately discussing who the next mayor will be, working to silence dissent, or hiding the truth, this Council has treated the people of Woodinville with disdain and have shown contempt for the free and fair democratic process, and the ethics of service and honesty that we should expect of our elected officials. 

After 15 years of living in and serving the City of Woodinville, my family and I decided to move after having tolerated more than a year of intimidation, false accusations and other bad behaviors. While I still love Woodinville and wish the city well, the last straw was a death threat that I received several months AFTER the election. Woodinville is better than this and we should expect better of our elected officials. 

The Washington state code sums it up best: “The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.” We should all demand a transparent City Council that serves all the people of Woodinville! 

Nicolas Duchastel


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