EAST WENATCHEE — The East Wenatchee City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Wenatchee regarding homeless housing funds and a corresponding task force after being split on the matter in a previous vote.
The revote took place during a city council meeting Tuesday night following a confusing twist of parliamentary procedure.
The original vote on Oct. 5 was 3-2, with councilmembers Sasha Sleiman abstaining and Matthew Hepner absent from the meeting. During the meeting it was determined that Sleiman’s abstention would count as a nay vote, forcing Mayor Jerrilea Crawford to cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the agreement.
Upon further review, the city’s legal counsel determined that abstentions do not count as a nay vote and that a motion to approve the agreement would require a majority vote of the full membership of the council.
“I gotta tell you, it was a challenge my first meeting to end up with an abstention and a 3-2 vote,” said Robert Siderius, who just started as the city’s contracted legal counsel.
He added that the city’s policies don’t explicitly address abstentions but do refer to a set of parliamentary procedure rules for matters not mentioned. Those rules were used as the basis for the determination that the council would need to reconsider the agreement when all members were present.
Sleiman said she originally abstained on the vote because she was worried there could be a conflict of interest due to her position as Chelan County’s housing program coordinator. After discussing the matter with legal counsel, she realized that was not the case.
“I am supportive of this at the end of the day,” she said. “I was just worried about conflict of interest, and when I realized there was no conflict of interest, I voted yes.”
Councilmembers John Sterk and Christine Johnson originally voted against the agreement but switched their votes to yays on Tuesday. Neither responded to The World’s request for comment.
The agreement names the city of Wenatchee the lead entity for administering revenue from taxes the cities passed earlier this year to fund a low-barrier shelter and other homeless services. The Wenatchee City Council passed the agreement in September.