Lynnwood City Council hears ex-candidate’s complaints, approves design for new Community Justice Center

A simmering conflict between a current and a former Lynnwood City Council candidate boiled over during the Sept. 9 Lynnwood City Council business meeting, causing Mayor Nicola Smith to call a short recess after what the city attorney described as personal attacks.

During the council’s public comment period, former candidate Rosamaria Graziani called on one of her primary election opponents, Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, to withdraw a police report she filed on July 31. The report alleged that Graziani instructed a 12-year-old boy to remove Altamirano-Crosby’s campaign flyers from multiple residences and replace them with her own.

Both Graziani and Altamirano-Crosby campaigned in the primary election— along with fellow candidate David Schirle — for city council Position 5. Altamirano-Crosby and Schirle were the top two vote getters and have advanced to the general election.

The police report alleges that a volunteer on Altamirano-Crosby’s campaign was sitting in her parked vehicle when she witnessed a 12-year-old boy remove flyers from multiple residences near the 18000 block of 38th Avenue West and replace them with Graziani’s flyers. The witness also reported seeing Graziani sitting in her parked car, and that she saw the boy run back to Graziani’s car after replacing the flyers.

Graziani is a tutor who teaches math to low-income children and the boy involved is one of her students. She said she wanted to address the allegations, because the accusations against her — which she has denied — affected him.

“Education is my passion as I believe it is a key to a better life and a better society,” she said. “I am also a passionate defender of my students and I am here to express my concern about a police report filed by Julieta Crosby, because it affects one of them.”

Former Lynnwood City Council candidate Rosamaria Graziani.

According to Graziani, Altamirano-Crosby accused the boy of stealing the flyers, although the report was filed against Graziani and not her 12-year-old student. In the report, Altamirano-Crosby stated that Graziani sent the boy to remove the flyers. The detective assigned to the case, Sgt. Frank Axtman, said he does not expect to bring charges against the boy.

Additionally, Cmdr. Sean Doty said children between the ages of 8-12 years old are presumed to be incapable of committing crimes unless it can be proven that they had the capacity to know what they were doing was wrong.

Graziani pointed out that the replacement cost for Altamirano-Crosby’s missing flyers would be less than one dollar and said the police should not waste resources on this case. According to state law (RCW 29A.84.040), removal or defacing of political advertising is a misdemeanor. The law also states that each flyer removal would count as a separate misdemeanor.

Graziani then accused Altamirano-Crosby of using “intimidation tactics she learned during her stay in Cuba” while attending the University of Havana. That caused members of the audience and city council to protest, stating that Graziani’s comments broke the council’s rules against making personal remarks about individuals.

City Attorney Rosemary Larson agreed during the meeting that the comments went “over the line into personal attacks.”

When Graziani continued to accuse Altamirano-Crosby of using “intimidation tactics,” an argument broke out between one of Graziani’s adult students and another audience member defending Altamirano-Crosby, causing Mayor Smith to call a short recess.

Following the five-minute recess, the mayor and council allowed Graziani to finish her comments. However, Graziani was cut short by the mayor after she continued to make comments about Altamirano-Crosby. Before stepping away from the podium, Graziani asked the mayor and council to speak to the police department about dropping case the against her. 

In other business, the city council unanimously voted to authorize the mayor to execute a $1.1 million contract for the phase one design of the future Community Justice Center with the Seattle-based architecture firm Mackenzie.

After multiple space needs studies determined that the Lynnwood Police Department, jail and municipal court have outgrown their current facility, city officials decided to renovate the existing building as well as expand east to the adjacent vacant site.

The entire project is estimated to cost $48 million. It would add a new public entry for safer public screening, another courtroom and a private assessment area.

During the discussion, Councilmember George Hurst pointed out that the design contract will be paid for with funding from the Public Safety Capital Infrastructure Fund 390. When approving the city’s 2019-20 biennium budget, the council authorized a transfer of $1.3 million from the Criminal Justice Fund 105 to start design documents for the project. 

The project will be a partnership between the police department and the Community Health Center (CHC) of Snohomish County to help inmates meet court mandates like drug addiction and mental health treatments as well as health assessments like HIV testing for intravenous drug users. Through the partnership between the CHC and the police department, both will be able to help provide a continuity of care for those low-level misdemeanor offenders, said Deputy Chief Jim Nelson.

“The thought is maybe if we can impact the people sooner, we could avoid some downstream issues,” he said.

Additionally, the new facility would provide space to potentially house 100 inmates in the Lynnwood jail. The current jail can house 46 inmates, but the average number of daily jail inmates is around 75. By expanding the number of inmates the jail could hold, Nelson said the department could work with the Community Health Center ensure the inmates meet their court mandates.

The new center will also save money for the police department, which spends $1.45 million annually to contract with other detention centers to house inmates. And it would provide the city with an opportunity to generate revenue by housing inmates from other jurisdictions.

Phase one of design is scheduled to be completed in August 2020.

Also at the Monday meeting, the council voted to adopt the U.S.S. Sampson — an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer DDG-102 stationed at the Everett Naval Station — as part of the city’s Adopt-a-Ship program. By adopting the U.S.S. Sampson through the program, Lynnwood families would be eligible to invite sailors unable to visit their families during the holidays to their homes. The sailors would also be invited to attend city events throughout the year.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity that we have as a city to serve those that are serving our country,” said City Council President Ben Goodwin.

Attending the meeting was the newly-appointed commanding officer of the U.S.S. Sampson, Cmdr. Henry Vasquez, who said community support is important to military personnel, especially during the holidays when sailors and officers cannot visit family.

“We cannot do what we do without the support of the community and your commitment is very welcome,” he said.

Also during the Sept. 9 meeting, the council proclaimed the month of September as Latino Heritage Month in the City of Lynnwood.

–Story and photos by Cody Sexton

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