Tonight Mayor Don Gough is expected to face the Lynnwood City Council for the first time since they officially called on him to resign.
Last Monday the Council voted 6-1 to censure Mayor Gough and urged him to step down after an investigation of his conduct with city employees. Council President Ted Hikel abstained from the vote.
On Thursday the city released the report of the investigation. After interviewing dozens of current and former city employees, the investigator said there was a “striking consistency in how the majority of both male and female witnesses (though not all) described their experiences.”
They said that Mayor Gough’s communication style is sometimes rude and dismissive; he can be demeaning and condescending; he sometimes intentionally speaks slowly or repeats information, giving the listener the impression that the Mayor thinks the listener is stupid; he lectures staff and others as if they were children; and that he resorts to name calling such as using the words stupid and idiot. Witnesses also said the Mayor does not like to have his authority called into question, uses his authority to intimidate and and tends to hold a grudge.
Some witnesses claimed that Mayor Gough has a gender bias and has unflattering nicknames for female staff members. At least six witnesses reported they have heard Mayor Gough use the phrase “doing the mommy thing” in reference to Stephanie Simpson, Mayor Gough’s former assistant who gave birth to two children while she was employed by the city. They say he also used the term “baby brains” after she returned from her second maternity leave.
“Given the number of people who believe the Mayor has a gender bias, combined with his comments, his admitted informality in addressing women, and his historical and ongoing difficulties with senior female staff who he finds to be ‘aggressive,’ the investigator cannot rule out the possibility of a gender bias. Additionally, a number of apparently strong, confident, professional women have been reduced to tears in their dealings with Mayor Gough. Whereas no men reported similar emotional or comparable negative reactions. Some
women reported that they have suffered from health problems as a result of their working relationships with Mayor Gough. No men reported the same,” the report said.
In addition to asking Mayor Gough to resign, the City Council is requiring that all personnel decisions be approved by them, including hiring, firing and discipline.
Because he’s an elected official the only way to remove him from office would be by a recall petition.