New top city staff member in Black Diamond approved

The Black Diamond City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Christy Todd as city administrator at its special meeting and town hall Jan. 9.

The council scheduled a special meeting to discuss Todd’s appointment after being informed of the dismissal of the former city administrator, Mark Hoppen. Mayor Dave Gordon appointed former Maple Valley city attorney Christy Todd as interim city administrator Jan. 2 after letting go of Hoppen. Todd was originally considered for the position of interim city attorney as the city’s legal contract expired at the end of 2013. Council members previously declined to approve the appointment at the Jan. 2 meeting, citing the desire to be able to research Todd’s background and speak with her.

“I originally had interviewed her as an interim city attorney and was blown away,” Gordon said at the Jan. 9 meeting. “Her professionalism, her knowledge of Black Diamond’s situation and her qualifications proved to me very quickly that she would be best deployed as the city administrator. She was very excited about that opportunity and I explained to her our budget constraints — we have a severance package we have to pay Mr. Hoppen — and we came to an agreement that would be a budget neutral option.”

Gordon explained to council that Todd has agreed to a smaller salary this year to offset the severance package.

“I want to say real quickly, just on the couple of dates we’ve had she is delivering on my campaign promises,” Gordon said. “She came in and started doing performance reviews and working with department heads for goals.”

Council members spoke to their support of Todd and their impressions of her at the meeting as well.

“I think that she is a good fit,” Councilwoman Carol Benson said at the meeting. “I think that it’s good that the mayor picked somebody that he’s comfortable with and I’m sorry that Mark Hoppen is gone, I liked him and I thought he had a lot of good ideas, but I think Christy Todd will fill that position quite well.”

Council members recognized that they had heard some negative things but said that they felt that Todd would do a good job and that she came with numerous good recommendations.

“We know there’s issues with Maple Valley,” Councilwoman Janie Edelman said at the meeting. “We’ve all had jobs. We all know that there are certain jobs, that when you leave, whatever the circumstances, so.”

Edelman went on to ask Todd about her relationship with YarrowBay during her time of employment with Maple Valley as well as traffic mitigation measures as it related to Maple Valley’s concerns regarding traffic tied to the Black Diamond master planned developments.

“I worked with them and against them, and I worked with King County and against King County for four and a half years,” Todd said. “There were times when it was contentious, there were times when it was cooperative…I can work with YarrowBay and I can also stand firm with YarrowBay.”

Councilman Ron Taylor asked Todd if her involvement in mitigation involving Maple Valley and YarrowBay and Black Diamond when she was employed by Maple Valley would pose a conflict of interest for her.

Todd replied that would only cause a conflict if she had been hired as Black Diamond’s city attorney.

Additionally on Jan. 9 Stephen DiJulio of Foster Pepper was unanimously appointed the interim city attorney.

The city was previously represented by the firm Kenyon Disend, whose contract expired at the end of 2013 and was continuing to provided services until a new attorney was selected.

“Kenyon Disend informed me of an irreconcilable conflict with Mrs. Todd,” Gordon said at the special meeting Jan. 9. “It is not in the best interest of the city for my administrator to have no ability to contact or seek advice of the city attorney. Kenyon Disend also informed me they intended to resign and to withdraw their response to the city’s RFQ for attorney services. For all these reasons it is necessary to immediately appoint an interim city attorney. I would just like to add in here that I cannot explain why but the performance and continuity and the advice of KD got very confused and unreliable in the last week.”

The city is currently in the process of vetting three candidates who applied for the city attorney position in response to the city’s response for qualifications.

“This is another one of those situations where it’s not normally conducted business and so there’s extremely limited information about this,” Edelman said at the meeting.


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