Langley Mayor Larry Kwarsick emailed a brief letter of resignation to the city of Langley Sunday, with the effective date of his resignation today, Jan. 7.
Kwarsick has been caught up in a legal tangle since admitting to falsifying a city document when he was planning director in 2011. It had to do with a relative’s land use permit.
The mayor pleaded guilty to the charge in mid-December. Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill surprised onlookers by sentencing him to 15-days in jail, saying he betrayed the public confidence. The jail time begins Feb. 3.
Kwarsick wanted to keep his part-time job as mayor, but Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks filed a lawsuit to force him out of office. The lawsuit stated Kwarsick committed “malfeasance” while holding a public office, which disqualifies him from holding any public office.
Last week, Kwarsick resigned from another public office, that of the Town of Coupeville’s part-time planning director.
In his short resignation statement, Kwarsick cast doubt on Banks’ interpretation of the law.
“The county prosecuting attorney has initiated proceedings against me to force me to resign or face a lawsuit. Although I have received counsel that suggests I would be successful were I to contest the lawsuit, the financial and personal costs are too great,” he wrote in an email addressed to “The City of Langley.”
Langley Clerk-Treasurer Debbie Mahler confirmed she opened the email Monday morning when she got to work.
Coincidentally, Mahler’s signature was in an advertisement that appeared in Saturday’s South Whidbey Record, containing signatures of people urging him to stay in public office and commending him for work he has done in the past.
“I think he was a fantastic mayor,” Mahler said. “It’s a shame. I did advise him to stay on.”
The city will temporarily be headed by Councilman Hal Seligson, who is also mayor pro-tem. Seligson didn’t immediately return a call for comment. Last week he said an opening for mayor would be filled by calling for qualified applicants, and the council would make a choice from among them.
The City Council meets tonight at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.