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Ken Sharp resigns from Kent City Council because of pending theft charges
Ken Sharp has resigned from the Kent City Council just two weeks into his first term because of what he said were "pending legal issues I fear will become too distracting for my fellow council members, for the mayor and for city staff."
The 66-year-old Sharp won the November election and took an oath of office Jan. 7 under the shadow of looming first-degree theft charges. The city of Kent announced Sharp's resignation Thursday in a media release.
Sharp attended his first and only council meeting on Jan. 7. Despite the theft charges, voters elected Sharp in November to a four-year term.
He faces seven counts of first-degree theft for reportedly stealing $297,500 from his 93-year-old mother's bank account and putting the money into his account. If convicted as charged, Sharp faces a prison sentence of 22 to 29 months. If convicted, he would have been forced to give up his council seat. Sharp pleaded not guilty to the charges Aug. 29.
The Kent businessman is scheduled to return to King County Superior Court on Feb. 19 for a hearing, where a trial date could be set or attorneys can ask the judge for more time to prepare the case.
Sharp told city officials he was disturbed his personal legal challenges are continuing to take away the focus of the good work by city staff, the mayor’s office and council.
Sharp released this statement Thursday:
"When I decided to run for the Kent City Council I did so with only the best intentions," Sharp said. "I have never been a political person, preferring instead to work behind the limelight. I can honestly state that I entered the race for city council with only the best of intentions believing it was a continuation of my service to the city of Kent.
"The past six months have been the most agonizing and difficult time in my life. But it was my choice to continue with the election. Still, pending legal issues I fear will become too distracting for my fellow council members, for the mayor and for city staff. As a result, and with deep regret, I have decided that it is best for me and for the city of Kent that I resign my position on the Kent City Council.
"My resignation will take effect immediately, so that the council president can commence the process to appoint a new council member to fulfill my remaining term.
"I will continue to do all I can to help and support this great community. I believe this is going to be an amazing year for the city of Kent. As a city, we are poised to accomplish great things, and this should be a source of pride for the citizens of Kent. It has been an honor to be elected to serve this great community by its citizens, and I will always appreciate the trust this community placed in me.”
King County prosecutors filed charges Aug. 15 against Sharp. Federal Way Police arrested him for investigation of theft on June 21. His mother lived in Federal Way at the time of the alleged theft.
Sharp, who owns Minuteman Press in Kent, defeated Bailey Stober in the November council race by 272 votes. He beat Stober and Barbara Phillips in the Aug. 6 primary. Sharp replaced Elizabeth Albertson on the council after she decided not to seek re-election.
Council President Dana Ralph called the situation very unfortunate, but added she is determined to keep the positive momentum of the city moving forward.
“I thank Ken for his service to the community, and wish him well," Ralph said in a prepared statement. "Our focus now has to be on filling this vacancy so residents will have the benefit of representation by a full (seven-member) council. We have a lot we’d like to accomplish this year and my hope is this transition won’t distract from that.”
Ralph says she will work with the council to determine a replacement process to fill the vacant seat. State law does not set out any specific procedure except that the new appointment must occur within 90 days.
The person appointed by the council will serve until an election for the post takes place in November 2015, according to city officials. The appointed council member also will be eligible to run for the position. The elected individual would take office as soon as the election is certified.
The council last filled a vacancy in 2008 with the selection of Jamie (Danielson) Perry after Councilman Bob O'Brien died at age 76 from cancer. Fifteen residents applied for that position. Ralph and current Councilman Dennis Higgins were among the seven finalists interviewed by the council.