It was an evening that marked the end of an era.
After nearly a decade at the city’s helm, Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick presided over her final council meeting. A farewell party immediately preceded the meeting, which took place 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 at Sultan City Hall. Recently appointed as Washington State Representative for the 39th Legislative District, Eslick will resign her duties as mayor to focus on her work in Olympia. Tuesday, October 31, 2017 will be her final day as the mayor of Sultan.
Local leaders, elected officials, friends and family members gathered for the celebration, which gave guests the opportunity to wish Eslick well, and thank her for her tireless service to the city.
Washington State Senator Kirk Pearson echoed the sentiment that has reverberated throughout the community since Eslick’s appointment to the legislature on September 20; while it is difficult to imagine Sultan without her as mayor, she will be an incredible asset in Olympia.
“I know for a lot of you it’s a loss to you, because you’re losing a wonderful mayor,” Pearson said. “But for the people of the 39th district – we’re going to be blessed.”
Eslick is a skilled consensus-builder who can work with anybody, Pearson said. Since her appointment in September she’s been hard at work, visiting cities and learning about issues across the 39th District, which includes most of Snohomish and Skagit counties and the northeastern corner of King County. She’ll bring a fresh, rural approach, plus commitment and heart for the people, he added.
“I couldn’t be more proud and happy for Carolyn,” Pearson said. “She’ll do a great job.”
Eslick’s imprint on the Sultan community is indelible. She’s cut ribbons, welcomed new businesses, honored local students, recognized veterans, spearheaded numerous multifaceted community improvement efforts, supported emergency services and graciously dedicated her time to the city.
Her hands have pulled weeds in front of the post office and picked up trash on Main Street. Her feet have traversed Sultan’s streets, parks, schools and community spaces. She’s attended countless local gatherings, from awards ceremonies to neighborhood block watch meetings. She built the city’s flourishing volunteer program, which has resulted in robust levels of community engagement.
When a need has presented itself in the community, whether food insecurity, homelessness, lack of activities for youth or a myriad of other vital community causes, Eslick has championed efforts to address those needs.
A Sultan resident since 1979, Eslick’s service to the community began on the council, where she served from 1996 – 2002. Sultan Library Branch Manager Jackie Personeus recalled meeting with Eslick in the late 1990s, when Eslick visited the library to discuss the need for a larger facility. Back in those days, the library was established in the current police station, and was busting at the seams. Eslick has always had such incredible vision for the community, said Personeus.
As mayor, she’s treated everyone with kindness and respect.
“Some people will shy away from a homeless person that they see, or a teenager that they see that seems to be at a loss for what to do,” Personeus said.
But not Eslick, Personeus said. Eslick has always gone out of her way to address them, listen to their story and find out what she could do for them as mayor.
Personeus thanked Eslick for her service.
“I just am so happy for you,” Personeus said. “I’ll miss you and I just respect you so much for your integrity.”
Snohomish County Strategic Tourism Plan Coordinator Annique Bennett commended Eslick for her passion and enthusiasm for rural development.
“I just want to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication,” Bennett said. “You have been such an inspiration to the county and our tourism work.”
Eslick has engaged in various efforts over the years to promote community development. From the rigorous Comprehensive Plan update of 2008 to founding grassroots efforts to beautify the city and showcase its assets, Eslick has been intrinsically involved. Her legacy is vast, including the Sultan Community Alliance, initially established in 2014 to address homelessness.
Today, the Alliance is headed up by a thriving volunteer board that promotes community through regular parks clean-ups and large-scale family-friendly events meant to bring the community together.
Eslick took a few moments to thank the community for its support. She singled out Snohomish County Fire District 5 Chief Merlin Halverson, thanking him for his long-term service to the community and his committed, steadfast leadership.
“He’s done an outstanding job with the fire department,” Eslick said. “This man is amazing.”
She also took a moment to thank her husband, Chuck Donaldson. Donaldson has been an unwavering source of support, she said, always encouraging her in her desire to tackle new challenges. He’s been at her side, a loyal advocate during her numerous adventures – political and otherwise.
“He’s been amazing,” Eslick said. “Not everybody would do that.”
The two will live in Olympia during the upcoming 2018 legislative session, but will maintain their permanent residence in Sultan.
Once the council meeting was underway, Mayor Pro Tem John Seehuus presented Eslick with a commemorative plaque and trophy which highlighted a few of her accomplishments over the years. There wasn’t enough room on the award to list them all, Seehuus said.
During the time designated for councilmember comments, Councilmember Russell Wiita reminisced about his days as student representative on the Sultan City Council. Selected for the job by Eslick, Wiita got his start in local government while he was a junior at Sultan High School, serving as student representative on the council during the 2010 – 2011 school year.
“She’s been a great mentor,” Wiita said.
Since serving as student representative, Wiita graduated from high school and went on to attend the University of Washington, where he achieved a bachelor’s degree in political science. He spent the 2015 legislative session in Olympia as an intern, where he served 39th District Representatives Elizabeth Scott and Dan Kristiansen, along with 15th District Representative Dave Taylor. He currently works as legislative aide to Snohomish County Councilmember Nate Nehring.
“The community is going to miss her but she’s not going to go too far, and this council’s notorious for making many trips down to Olympia,” Wiita said. “She’ll still be seeing us and will serve us well.”
Mayor Pro Tem John Seehuus will take over leadership of the city as of November 1, 2017, serving in the top position until the Sultan City Council moves to appoint one of its seven members to fill Eslick’s vacancy. Five councilmembers are interested in the job, including Seehuus.
The council has 90 days to make the appointment, and will subsequently accept applications to fill the vacancy on the council. Once selected, the new mayor will serve the remainder of Eslick’s term, which ends on December 31, 2019.