Mayor Mike Myers leading the show now
A quiet coup at city hall has ousted boisterous mayor
John Liebert and replaced him with the most reticent city
council member: Mike Myers.
At the January 9 meeting of Blaine City Council newly sworn-in council member Charlie Hawkins nominated Myers during the regular biennial selection of one amongst the seven council members to lead the group, and Ken Ely seconded. Bonnie Onyon nominated Liebert to continue on as mayor, seconded by new council member Jason Overstreet.
Myers said characteristically little, and spoke so quietly there were calls to “speak up!” from the audience. “I would be happy to perform the duties of mayor,” he said. “I’m fully committed to perform the job.”
Also true to form, Liebert spoke for several minutes about his accomplishments and qualifications to lead. He speculated the move to oust him came because he was perceived as being a strong mayor in the city’s “weak mayor” form of government, in which the mayor simply leads the council while the city manager runs the city. “I’ve tried to be an active and visible mayor by still being only one of seven,” he said. “Being a mayor is more than just running a meeting.” Liebert listed groups within the county he had been working with, including the Whatcom Council of Governments, small cities caucus, and chambers of commerce in Blaine and neighboring communities, “to give Blaine a presence.”
Liebert pointed to the airport master plan and the study of alternative uses for the airport, endorsed by voters in the November election, as a sore spot. “I urged council to study the other side of the issue and that upset a few people,” he said. “I simply want what is best for Blaine and don’t think that will happen without studying both sides.” His statement was met with loud applause from the audience.
Results of a vote by closed paper ballot were read by city clerk Sheri Sanchez: three votes for Liebert and four for Myers. The link between the airport and the change of regime was borne out by the small smattering of applause from several current and former airport commissioners at Myers’ win.
audience members grumbled and made calls to publicize
“There was a motion on the floor and you should have a recorded vote,” said city attorney John Sitkin. Onyon and Overstreet cast their votes with Liebert while Bruce Wolf joined Ely and Hawkins in supporting Myers.
As Myers took the center chair he acknowledged Liebert’s service and asked for patience as he learned his new role.
“I’ve never done anything like this before and I’ll probably make a few mistakes,” he said. “We’re just looking for a change in face for a while. And that’s the last speech you’ll ever get from me.”
Visibly upset by the ousted, Liebert refused the offer of the mayor pro tem position.
“If I’m not good enough to be mayor, I’m not good enough to be mayor pro tem,” he said. Onyon was nominated and accepted the position.
The change gives the top spot on city council back to ward three. Myers, like former mayors Dieter Schugt and John Hobberlin, is a Semiahmoo resident.
Liebert was the first mayor from central Blaine in more than 10 years.