***UPDATE?CORRECTION*** Who Holds The Reins Now? -Yakima Council Selects A New Mayor
***This is a correction to the original post....the original post said councilmember Soneya Lund nominated Janice Deccio as Mayor but the Yakima Herald-Republic states it was Eliana Macias and now Mrs Deccio has written to tell us it was in fact Ms Macias who nominated her . We want to set the record straight.
The Yakima City Council held its first regular meeting of 2022 last night, Tuesday, January 4th. The first takeaway is New Year-New Council & New Leadership.
Out With The Old In With The New
Two-year incumbent Mayor Patricia Byers was nominated for a second term but newcomer Janice Deccio was also nominated. Byers was defeated four votes to three with newly elected Matt Brown and 2-term council member Holly Cousens voting with Byers. Janice Deccio was nominated by council member Eliana Macias, with council members Soneya Lund and newly elected Danny Herrera voting in support.
I was surprised by the vote and had thought that the wise move would be for the council to retain Byers's experience and leadership in order to preserve the wisdom gained by serving two years during the complications of the Coronavirus. Then any one of the new members could serve and learn as assistant Mayor. Nope.
Councilwoman Lund had been involved in a mini-controversy during the election involving some texts allegedly between herself and Deccio's husband. Lund denies she sent the texts saying her phone was stolen and hacked. In the exchange, someone using Lund's phone expresses excitement at the prospect of Janice Deccio joining the council, says it needs to happen and encourages a course of action to help make that happen.
The person on Lund's phone also texts that they had compromising and embarrassing information on several community leaders including Mayor Byers. It didn't get widespread media play and so Janice Deccio, who claimed not to know much of anything about it, weathered potential political fallout and won the district four seat with 811 total votes, a margin of victory of 230 votes over challenger Mark Shervey.
Does Yakima's District System Promote Electoral Inequality
(side note - Shervey finished second by 230 votes and still collected 231 votes MORE than district 2 winner Danny Herrera .... district six winner Matt Brown received 2,367 votes which is more than double the combined winning totals of Deccio and Herrera )
Electoral equality anyone?
Back to the story....so after the texting "thing" blows over, Deccio wins the seat and is nominated to be Mayor by Macias. She wins with four liberal votes. Deccio nominated Lund as assistant Mayor and she won. ***Deccio says choosing Lund as assistant Mayor was simply a matter of her available schedule and not a return for any kind of favor...I appreciate the new Mayor writing to tell us her side of the story and to set the record straight - Thanks***
My newsguy instincts say something feels funky here. I'm not suggesting anything specific. Just a sense that the council will be worth watching more closely going forward.
Hope I'm wrong.
In the meantime, the gracious former Mayor, Pat Byers called in to express her gratitude for her time as Mayor and newly elected Matt Brown called to urge everyone to give this council a chance to show that council drama is over and the work is about to begin.
Hope he's right.