Mayor looking to bring back former finance director

Marine wants Scott James to join his administration


Last updated 3/22/2022 at 12:36am

Scott James

A familiar face appears to be on his way back to City Hall.

Mayor Joe Marine is looking to hire former Mukilteo Finance Director Scott James as the City's new finance director. He would replace current director Shawn Hunstock, who joined the City in January 2021. Hunstock submitted his resignation on March 7, and his last day will be March 31.

James currently is the finance director for the City of Snohomish. He previously worked for the City of Stanwood.

"My plan is that I want to bring back my finance director, who I worked with for seven out of my eight years," Marine said. "I have a lot of faith and trust in him. I want him back as part of my team."

Marine credited James with helping the City achieve a Triple-A bond rating and establishing a long-range financial planning committee.

James' name is scheduled to be submitted for approval by the City Council on Monday, March 21. If approved, James would start April 1.

"He's somebody who is not new to me. He's not new to Mukilteo," Marine said.

Marine added his decision should not be considered a reflection on the performance of Hunstock.

"I know what I have in Scott," Marine said. "I want Scott back in that position."

Marine said he's talked with most of the councilmembers to give them a head's up on his plans.

Hunstock said he could not comment when contacted Monday, March 14. His departure from the City, however, was discussed by Council Vice President Elisabeth Crawford during Monday's work session.

The City likely will have more new faces in the coming weeks or months. Fire Chief Chris Alexander retired earlier this month, and the City is advertising for the position. Former Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Price also retired earlier this year. Marine said the City is re-evaluating the position, which may be brought back as a manager or a director.

Prior to Mukilteo, Hunstock has been the deputy finance director for Des Moines.

He was Edmonds' finance director from September 2011 until February 2013. He also served as finance director for Maple Valley and Tukwila, and as assistant finance director for Auburn.

Hunstock also was the finance manager for the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, the financial services manager for Chelan County, and the director of finance and auxiliary services for the University of Washington Bothell.

James was let go by Edmonds

Scott James worked for the City of Edmonds as its finance director from 2014 until he was fired by Mayor Mike Nelson in 2020.

James came to Edmonds from Mukilteo, where he was the City's finance director. Before that, he was financial director for the City of Sunnyside, Washington.

He was a staff accountant for the City of Edmonds from 1998 to 2005.

In Edmonds, James was instrumental in Standard & Poor's Global Ratings' assigning its coveted "AAA" long-term rating to the City of Edmonds, a first in the city's history.

The bond rating represents the highest level of creditworthiness a municipality can achieve and allows the City to borrow money at the lowest commercial interest rates possible.

According to the separation agreement obtained by The Beacon, which James signed, James has agreed to a gag order in exchange for severance pay equal to six months salary and payment for any unused leave.

Shawn Hunstock

The gag order means James agreed not to speak with the media or make disparaging statements about the City regarding his separation. He also agreed not to seek reemployment with the City of Edmonds.

The City's directors are at-will employees, meaning they can be fired or can quit for no reason. Nelson did not explain the reasoning for James' departure. The agreement, however, stated that James agreed that his separation was not an admission by the City that he violated any law or failed to fulfill any of his duties.

Mukilteo Lighthouse take route

The City specifically denied any wrongdoing in the agreement.

Managing editor Brian Soergel contributed to this story.


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