Councilmember Binda asked to resign after Instagram post

Demands for Lynnwood City Councilmember Josh Binda’s resignation overshadowed the approval of a new elected judge position during the Lynnwood City Council’s March 27 meeting.

Six public commenters asked Binda to resign, while one spoke in his defense. Though he attended over Zoom, Binda was not physically present for the meeting as he was at the National League of Cities event in Washington, D.C. 

While Binda attended and spoke at the League of Cities Event, he did not attend as an official Lynnwood representative, according to city staff.

During the council meeting, Council President Shannon Sessions said that Binda was not representing the city at the event, while Binda insisted he was. According to a city spokesperson, Binda was not serving officially at Lynnwood’s representative as he had not followed the council approval process to attend conferences. Officially, Council Vice President Julieta Altamirano-Crosby served as the city’s representative and she was absent from the meeting. 

Public objections to Binda surfaced after he posted on his Instagram account March 19 to celebrate his new public speaking business, Josh Binda Speaks. He also commemorated his recent Love Conquers All tour of local high schools with a tattoo on his upper arm. In the announcement, he posts three images. The first is a photo where he poses shirtless to display the tattoo. The second — now deleted —  is an image of white text on a gray background that says “TATTOO my name so I know ITS REAL.” The third is an image of his newly procured state document certifying Josh Binda Speaks as an LLC. 

Diodato “Dio” Boucsieguez was the first member of the public to speak regarding their  concerns about Binda.

“I must note that toplessness is not inherently sexual. Yet being topless, posing one’s hand on one’s own buttock and pulling one’s pants down to the belt line, particularly if you’re marketing your tour to minors, I feel is rather unacceptable.” said eight-year Lynnwood resident Diodato Boucsieguez. 

Boucsieguez was one of a few individuals at the meeting wearing “Resign Binda Now” t-shirts. Binda posted on Instagram about the shirts, which featured white lettering and white and black blocks, saying he would be on “the right side of history,” adding a black heart and a raised fist emoji.

Safe Lynnwood founder Vivan Dong also went into detail about the level of disrespect she felt Binda displayed. 

Commenters also mentioned Binda’s past controversies. Previously, he was fined $500 for using $2,913.09 of his campaign funds for personal use and failing to file documents about his expenses on time. Binda also received backlash when he filmed a video in the Lynnwood council chambers about his then-upcoming Love Conquers All tour. When it was uncovered that Binda had been paid over $20,000 for his speaking tour, he was accused of using his status as a councilmember and city property for personal gain.

“Josh Binda’s an interesting person because on one hand, at such a young age, he’s a councilmember. He got elected and that’s something very, very commendable. On the other hand, we’ve seen a string of ethics violations,” said one commenter. “If this person becomes a role model for children, the message they’ll take is if you behave that way, really badly, you can still achieve great positions in public service and that’s the wrong message.”

Jason Moore also asked for Binda’s resignation.

Public commenter Jason Moore decried the use of public school funds to hire Binda. “I think it’s completely ridiculous, like this young lady was talking about how the school districts are actually paying money for this,” he said, gesturing to Vivian Dong. “And so, the school districts are paying all this money and like she [Vivian Dong] said, they’re claiming the budgets are being cut all the time.”

”I would say this is a result of all these DEI programs –Diversity, Equity, Inclusion– and all of those committees that are being held and this is the product of these behaviors… I support these people. Resign, Binda and defund DEI.” Moore concluded. 

No councilmembers spoke in Binda’s defense; Councilmember Shirley Sutton said she supported Binda’s critics, stating  “I’ve got to agree with everybody. I have to agree because my mom didn’t teach me this [behavior] and I know she’s rolling over in her grave.”

Shirley Sutton agreed with concerned residents about Binda’s conduct.

Replying during the meeting, Binda stated that the Instagram post some speakers referenced was not intended to be sexual, nor was it meant to encourage others to tattoo themselves. “I fully am a positive role model for the youth and will continue doing work in being a positive role model. I think it’s easy to sexualize something that was not meant to be sexual at all,” Binda said.

“We cannot bring positive change to the community without the community’s support,” said Councilmember Patrick Decker. “We can’t really have broad community support unless we have proper dignity and decorum for the office we hold.”

Councilmember George Hurst said that while he believes Binda has good intentions, his methods cause strife in the community that can’t be attributed solely to generational gaps. He also stated that the council’s methods of reprimanding Binda were “benign,” as councilmembers could not remove him from the position or punish him beyond admonishment. He concluded by stating that any decision to recall Binda must be led by members of the public, as it was not something the council had the ability to do.

Sessions stated that repeated attempts to guide Binda had fallen on deaf ears.

Council President Sessions summarized previous council actions taken to advise, reprimand or guide Binda, including removing Binda’s access to the Lynnwood City Hall building and his city email account, which was used for Binda’s speaking engagements. According to Sessions, Decker — on behalf of the council — submitted a complaint to the Lynnwood Board of Ethics detailing concerns about the February video and “a variety of other things.”

In other business, the council unanimously approved a proposal to switch from a part-time appointed municipal court judge to a full-time elected judge, despite reservations expressed by certain councilmembers last week. City Administrator Julie Moore returned to the council Monday to provide additional information about the judge’s growing case load. 

Current Lynnwood Municipal Court Judge Valerie Bouffiou will serve until the position is added to the general election ballot later this year. Lynnwood’s first elected judge will have a shortened tenure, starting at the beginning of 2024 and concluding at the end of 2025 so that it can align with further election cycles. After that, elected judges will serve four-year terms. 

Chip Peterson was unanimously appointed to the Tourism Advisory Committee/ Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. Peterson is the manager of the Hilton Garden Inn Lynnwood and was recommended by Mayor Christine Frizzell. 

Chip Peterson, at right in green, poses with councilmembers after being confirmed for the advisory committee.

Councilmembers also reviewed applications submitted for the Public Facilities District Board and evaluated seven applicants for a spot on the board. Applicants from other boards were considered but were also made aware that they could only serve on one, should they be chosen. Similarly, applicants running for office, such as city council candidate Nick Coelho, would not be able to serve in both positions. 

Sessions used a rubric to weigh council opinions on the applicants and narrow the pool of applicants moving forward. Vivian Dong placed first while Nick Coelho placed second. Teresa Bitner and Annie Armstrong tied for third place. All four will be interviewed by the council April 17.

Vivian Dong, pictured here speaking against Binda, was rated the highest among the candidates for the PFD board.

Sessions also announced that a public meeting where four or more councilmembers may be present and speaking about city business would be taking place March 30. The meeting is an upcoming community event called “Let’s Talk About Safety”, organized by Altamirano-Crosby to connect the community in a public safety discussion.

— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

  1. Stop being closed minded and think we are back in the 50s and be open to this generation and new ways you guys should be a team not going against one another that is not settling any good example for this community.

  2. I was really supportive and hopeful of Josh Binda when he campaigned for office. I felt that having a young, minority voice would be a refreshing change from what had been on the council before.

    However, the bad decisions that have been made by him again and again…I sympathize with the judge that reduced his fine for misappropriating campaign funds because it was his first time running for public office. Nick Coelho even worked to create a program to help guide new members of the public looking to enter the political sphere, to help them better understand the processes and fees so that nothing is overlooked. Josh didn’t even consider to endorse such a program publicly, which is odd considering how much it would have helped him out.

    This marketing campaign is just too hard to defend. A shirtless man is not inherently sexual, but the ad was clearly meant to be suggestive and provocative, which is behavior that is not becoming of city council members, no matter their intention of being good role models for kids. I appreciate the effort to bring these concerns to the public’s attention by this paper.

  3. Today’s society lacks a strong moral and ethical compass. I’m so happy to have ethical reporters like Jasmine Contreas-Lewis. This article delivers the facts to the reader without a strong inherent bias. Which allows the reader to make their own decision, promoting free will. I wish we had more of this kind of reporting in mainstream media. 🙂

  4. It strikes me that both people who spoke out against Josh Binda were conservative activists trying to unseat Mr Binda. I’m not saying what he did was right; however I don’t feel that his actions necessitate his removal from the council. We the people voted him in, and when he runs for re-election the people will have another say who they believe is best for our city council.

  5. Mr. Binda has said in his own defense it is a generational thing, in other words those that disagree with him are out of touch or worse. That said, I have a son who is Mr. Binda’s age and my son, and his many friends, are nothing like Mr. Binda. They are currently studying hard in colleges around the world, doing their best to improve the world with their shirts on. I agree with those voices calling for Mr. Binda to resign, because his ego is too large for his shirt.

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