Sunnyside councilmember speaks out about firing Sweet, city turmoil

Sunnyside councilmember speaks out about firing Sweet, city turmoil

SUNNYSIDE, Wash.  --   No one wanted to speak out after Sunnyside lost two key city leaders this week; city council fired the interim city manager and the mayor quit immediately after that.

Sunnyside City Councilmember Theresa Hancock is the first to agree to an on-camera interview with KIMA and said she was against firing Sweet.

"I don't think Mr. Sweet was given the opportunity to explain what happened," said Hancock.

Hancock said she was against hiring Frank Sweet in the first place but, he grew on her; she wanted him to stay on the job.

"It comes down to the agendas of a very few on the council," said Hancock. "And, I just think that it puts us at a stand still."

It's a rut Sunnyside can't seem to get out of.

Sweet was the city's fifth city manager in eight years.

"Do you feel Sunnyside's political turmoil has impacted its growth?" KIMA asked.

"Absolutely," said Hancock. "I do not know how a company will come to Sunnyside and look at the newspaper and see how many city managers we've gone through."

Hancock is a downtown business owner herself and believes Sweet was making progress on revitalization.

"We have talked 30 years about downtown revitalization. We are on the cusp of that," Hancock said.

Still, some business owners Action News spoke with say Sunnyside still falls short.

"With the things that have been going on, I've seen very little support and it's sad to say," said a Sunnyside business owner who only wanted to be identified as "Bob."

He's the owner of a well-known coffee shop says there's still hope.

"Now, let's go forward. And, that's the thing we need to do. Let's stop pointing fingers," said "Bob."

"What do you say to taxpayers who have lost faith in city government?" KIMA asked.

"I explain my position to them and why I make the decisions I make," said Hancock. "That's all I can do."

And, right now Sunnyside has a lot to do; find a manager to run the city, fill two council seats and hire a finance director and hopefully find some stability.

Hancock says the city hasn't met yet about starting the search for a new city manager.

Council Member Nick Palaukis told KIMA this will be his last month on the council because he's moving out of the district. Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenck remains on the job.

To get all sides, we contacted Frank Sweet for an interview but he didn't return our calls.