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Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon surprised fans and critics alike by resigning at the end of his State of the County speech Thursday. (Photo: MyNorthwest/FILE)

Reardon's resignation an opportunity to establish integrity

Scandal after scandal, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon maintained his innocence even as he resigned his position at the end of his State of the County speech Thursday.

Reardon said he was tired of fending off accusations of misconduct. It was hurting his family, his image, and preventing him from doing his job.

His resignation came just a week after he admitted that members of his staff were behind a plan to smear political opponents.

State Senator Mike Hope, of Lake Stevens, was once the focus of Reardon's political attacks. He told Dori that he was shocked by the announcement.

"Obviously we had heard about the accusations," said Mike, "but his resignation came as a surprise. I think he had wiggled himself out of so many situations I was really surprised that this would occur."

Dori, on the other hand, was shocked that Reardon stayed in office for as long as he had and guessed that big chunk of voters based their decision on Reardon's political party - not his integrity.

When Mike ran against Reardon for the Snohomish County Executive position he says he became the target of Reardon's political attacks.

Mike had great numbers in the primary, but his campaign's momentum started to decline when Reardon's campaign outspent them nearly five to one. Many of those dollars focused on personal and political attack ads.

Mike's Facebook page was even hacked, to the extent that he had to file a police report and have Facebook shut down the account.

He said Reardon's team had huge resources and that his own team didn't have the resources to really fight the political and personal attacks. Consequently, Mike wasn't able to successfully get his message out.

But Reardon finally admitted last week that it was someone in his office that was slamming opponents after an Everett Herald article exposed a staffer who was making public disclosure requests to monitor opponents.

Reardon said it was done completely without his knowledge, but Mike doesn't buy it.

"I believe he put those staffers on there for that specific reason to do that," said Mike.

One of Mike's biggest priorities during his Snohomish County campaign was to establish professional accountability and integrity at the county level. Those hopes seemed to die when he lost the election last year to Reardon.

"I wanted a system in place where people can file complaints or keep track, or just a little oversight of what was going on in the county government," said Hope. "And that was with the Office of Professional Integrity."

But now that Reardon is on his way out, Mike hopes that Snohomish County can start building that kind of integrity.

Jillian Raftery, KIRO Radio Editor
Jillian Raftery is an afternoon editor at KIRO Radio. She loves the neighborly vibe of the Pacific Northwest and spends as much time as possible outdoors.
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