A Democrat and former chairman of the Snohomish County Council is calling on County Executive Aaron Reardon to place himself on administrative leave until the Washington State Patrol completes an investigation into Reardon's travel expenses.
Councilman Dave Somers, in a statement released Tuesday, said his "request comes amid new details reported last week by regional media outlets ... inluding detailed descriptions of county resources used for his political campaign and to facilitate a personal relationship with a county employee."
Somers said he will introduce a resolution at Wednesday's council meeting urging Reardon to take leave.
The WSP investigation into Reardon's travel expenses began last fall, shortly before Reardon won reelection to a third term. The investigation was prompted by complaints about Reardon's travel expenses.
At the time, Somers said someone came to him regarding Reardon's travel expenses on out-of-town trips. Somers said he then took the allegations to the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office, which contacted Washington State Patrol to further investigate. WSP revealed its investigation into Reardon on November 3.
Last week, county employee Tamara Dutton told KING 5 News that she had a long-running affair with Reardon, who is married. She said Reardon used county funds to conduct the affair during official out-of-town business trips.
Also last week, the Everett Herald reported on Reardon's use of official office and other resources to campaign for reelection.
In the statement released Tuesday, Somers said he believes Reardon, a fellow Democrat, deserves due process. But given the budget problems facing the county and state, Somers said he questioned Reardon's ability to manage county business while also dealing with the investigation.
"Snohomish County taxpayers deserve an executive who can focus solely on the important issues facing our families and communities," said Somers. "I urge Executive Reardon to carefully consider what is in the best interests of those he was elected to serve and to act accordingly. We need a time out from banner headlines and a return to the efficient functioning of county government."
Should Reardon agree to take leave, Somers said Deputy County Executive Gary Haakenson would take over "to the extent allowed by the county charter."
KING 5 reported last week that Snohomish County GOP Chairman Bill Cooper had called for Reardon to go on leave. “He should either be put on leave, or place himself on leave,” said Cooper. “This is not a partisan issue. He is in a position of public trust and these allegations are too severe to have him carry on.”
Later, the county GOP posted a statement under Cooper's name saying that "[it] is the position of the Snohomish County Republican Party to await the results of the investigation being done on Aaron Reardon before making judgement or taking action, if any is warranted."