12/19/2014

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Sunnyside Mayor suddenly resigns; Council votes out Frank Sweet

Sunnyside Mayor suddenly resigns; Council votes out Frank Sweet
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- It was standing-room only at the Sunnyside City Council meeting. It was a heated meeting that resulted in Mayor Mike Farmer formally resigning, and council voting out interim city manager, Frank Sweet.

At the least, 100 people packed into the room. One-by-one, almost a dozen approached council.

Most backed Officer Phil Schenck and called for Interim City Manager Frank Sweet's resignation.

Schenck eventually took to the podium himself.

He described a face-to-face conversation with Sweet, before the letters between he and Sweet became public.

"I looked up at Mr. Sweet and I asked, 'so, you’re letting me go?' He responded, 'Yes I am,” Schenck said.

Schenck went on to say he wants to keep his job with Sunnyside and voiced his opinion of Sweet.

"I don't desire to give up my career. I implore council to provide the employees and community members of our city a manager with integrity,” Schenck said. “Mr. Sweet is not that manager."

The entire room stood up to applaud him.

After, council introduced a resolution to remove Frank Sweet from the job. Council went into executive session to discuss, as neighbors continued to vent. One woman said she was shocked to find out Schenck had almost been fired.

"Well I'm going to be honest with you. I got choked up and I actually cried,” Suzi Villanueva-Carpino said.

"I thought that was very unprofessional. Because, number one, I knew that officer Schenck is a man of high integrity,” Laurie Beltman said. “And, it seemed apparent to me that a disciplinary procedure, process, hadn't been followed at all by Mister Sweet."

Once the council returned from executive session, Mayor Mike Farmer suddenly resigned. Council member Jim Restucci was voted in to replace him. Council apparently heard the pleas from voters, and voted out interim city manager Frank Sweet, 4-2.

"Our community is hurting because we are always constantly fighting at the top. And we need to figure out how to solve these problems,” Trish Combs said.

"This should have come a long time ago. It should have never come to this point. But, I am very happy and proud that our city council is stepping up and doing the right thing,” Villanueva-Carpino said.

Controversy swirled last week over a letter from Sweet that suggested he planned to fire Deputy Police Chief, Phil Schenck, at the end of the month.

Schenck's lawyer fired back with his own letter that threatened to sue Sunnyside.Then, Sweet backed off his original letter calling it a misunderstanding.
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