Shirley Sutton resigns from the Lynnwood City Council

Councilmember Shirley Sutton

After six years of service, Councilmember Shirley Sutton has announced her resignation from the Lynnwood City Council Position 1 seat effective immediately.

In a May 6 letter to Council President George Hurst, Sutton said she was resigning due to health concerns and an “overwhelming desire to return to my home in the beautiful Yakima Valley.”

“I have really enjoyed working with you all during my time on the council,” Sutton wrote, adding: “I leave the council confident that the city is in your most capable hands.”

An avid advocate of equity and inclusion, Councilmember Sutton’s passion for her community has been seen and felt across Washington state and beyond, the City of Lynnwood said in a preses release announcing Sutton’s resignation. Sutton has served in multiple roles that focused on homelessness and empowering the youth of Washington state, including the Yakima School District, the Governor’s Homeless Commission and as the director of equity and inclusion for Edmonds College.

As a councilmember, Sutton continued that focus and passion as the liaison for the Human Services Commission, Arts Commission, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission, Alliance for Housing Affordability and the Lynnwood Tourism Advisory Committee, the city said.

Shirley Sutton speaks in 2020 after receiving the Beloved Community Award from former State Sen. Maralyn Chase, at right. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

In 2020, during a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Edmonds, Sutton received the nonprofit Lift Every Voice Legacy’s Beloved Community Award in recognition of her years of service to the community.

“She is a humble and unselfish role model for all of us in our aspiration to live in a community that rises above the social, spiritual and political divisions that negatively affect our well-being,” said Lift Every Voice Legacy founder Donnie Griffin.

“Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision in which all people can share the wealth of the earth,” said former State Sen. Maralyn Chase, who presented the award to Sutton. “In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated. Racism in all its forms, discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. Shirley Sutton believes in and practices equality and inclusion in her professional and private life. She works for social change and the elimination of barriers that block individuals from reaching their goals.”

“Shirley is the godmother of the underclass,” Griffin said. “That’s true about her for many decades, whether it’s linking up services for the unhoused, creating pathways of hope for youths, mentoring people of color or trying to create a community that is free of hatred, injustice and poverty. She was the go-to person.

“She doesn’t make a lot of noise to gain recognition. She’s just there when you need her.

“I told the [Lynnwood] City Council in January while presenting a proclamation for Black history that you all need to name a street or build a statue to Shirley Suttion because she is an inspiration to all of us. She crosses political divides to get things done. She works with you whether you’re a nonprofit or corporation or government. She figures out ways to make connections and bring resources together. Her resignation creates a gap that’s hard to fill.

“People know her and she is beloved in Lynnwood, but that goes beyond Lynnwood. It goes throughout this county and King County as well,” Griffin added.

“It has been a privilege to serve alongside the Honorable Councilmember Shirley Sutton,” said Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember Steve Woodard. “Her leadership and dedication to the welfare of all residents have served as a model for how to be an effective servant-leader. Our county owes her a great deal of gratitude and respect.”

Edmonds City Councilmember Jenna Nand said she is “a longtime admirer of Councilmember Sutton. Ever since I was a young Democrat in the local party, Shirley Sutton always made an effort to mentor me and support my interest in local issues. She is the best role model possible for younger politicians like me. Shirley is widely respected for being extremely intelligent, always kind, and having an impeccable character. The community knows and loves her for these qualities.

“Shirley is also well-known in South Snohomish County for her studious and data-driven advocacy for homeless college students in Lynnwood with her late colleague, the Rev. Dr. Jean Kim. Shirley was a trailblazer for BIPOC politicians in Snohomish County and she will be deeply missed as a local elected official,” Nand added

Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell said that Sutton “has been a long-time public servant in our city and surrounding community. Her concern for people and their welfare has impacted many in our community in so many ways. I am honored to have served alongside her as a councilmember as well as in my current role as mayor. Thank you for your service to our community, Shirley. You will be missed.”

In an email to the city council, Council President Hurst lauded Sutton’s commitment to her role and the community.

“Shirley has served this council, this city and our region for many years with distinction and with the heart of a servant. She has been a great friend and leader for many years.”

The city council will discuss the details for filling this vacancy during its May 13 business meeting. The specific process for filling city council vacancies is outlined in state law here.

Here is the text of Sutton’s message:

President Hurst:

Please accept this as notification of resignation of my position on The Lynnwood City Council, Position #1, effective immediately upon your receipt. Health concerns, as well as an overwhelming desire to return to my home in the beautiful Yakima Valley, has become most paramount in making this decision.

Please give my best regards to my colleagues on the Council. I have really enjoyed working with you all during my time on the council. As I am sure you will, please advise the administration of my decision.

I leave The Council, confident that The City is in your most capable hands. Thank you, George, for all you have done for me, and all you do for The City. Good Luck!

Best Regards to All,

Shirley P. Sutton
Lynnwood City Council
Position 1