Members of the Juanita Neighborhood Association on Monday night effectively ousted a Lake Stevens man who was elected as the group's temporary chairman in March, before many members discovered he did not live in Kirkland.
In what had to be one of the strangest Kirkland neighborhood meetings ever, members at the start of the association’s meeting at voted to remove control of the meeting from Mirza Avdic. After a motion and a second and then a 10-6 vote, control of the meeting was turned over to an acting chairman, Juanita resident Rich Aijala.
The meeting, attended by about 20 residents, Kirkland City Councilman Dave Asher and city neighborhoods coordinator Kari Page, ended with a new slate of board members being elected, with Julie Metteer as chairwoman.
Avdic, a former Juanita resident, began attending Juanita Neighborhood Association meetings earlier this year and, apparently at a lightly attended March board meeting, was elected temporary chairman. He and another board member elected at the same meeting, T’Chani Hill, of Juanita, then proposed a sweeping set of new bylaws that would have restructured the board.
Members at the meeting Monday night were having none of it. At least three people questioned Avdic’s motives.
“What is your purpose to want to run this association?” asked Kathy Finney, a Juanita resident long active in neighborhood affairs. “I want to make sure your motives are honorable, and if you’re not living here, how will you keep up with what is going on here?”
Avdic acknowledged that where he lives is “a valid concern. You don’t have to vote for me. My only intention is to be heard tonight.”
Marianna Hanefeld, a longtime chair of the association before annexation of north Juanita to the city prompted it to reorganize, responded: “This is a neighborhood association. You’ve got to live here.”
Avdic responded that according to the association’s bylaws, anyone who lives in Kirkland or has a business or address in Kirkland can be a member. He said he had earlier this year established an address in Kirkland for a nonprofit charitable group. He said the new bylaws were needed to prevent wrongdoing by board members, saying wrongdoing had occurred, but not providing any specifics.
He said his bylaws would “allow for enough diversity to make sure there is no funny business going on.”
Avdic never clearly explained why he wanted to be a part of the Juanita Neighborhood Association, but noted that he had lived in Kirkland for three years, had been a member of the Library Board and was active on many other civic matters.
Kirkland's several neighborhood associations act independently of the city and are not official city groups. But they may apply for small city grants and work with the city to address a variety of issues, such as new parks and legislation, traffic issues and neighborhood activities.
Temporary chairman Aijala at first refused to allow Avdic and Hill to make a presentation on the proposed bylaws, and instead heard a counter proposal from board member Karen Lightfeldt that would slightly amend the current bylaws, calling for five general membership meetings per year instead of four.
After much discussion, both of the bylaw proposals were tabled for full discussion at the next general membership meeting. But Avdic was allowed to make a short presentation of his plan, at the urging of a few in attendance.
During the voting for the new slate of board members, Avdic and Hill sat silently, Hill once complaining that those who had taken control of the meeting had alienated them.
In an email after the meeting, Hill said she and Avdic would remove themselves from all participation in the association. She said their opponents had proceeded to “basically sham the entire meeting.”
She added that “Mirza was literally put to the fire at his character for no reason other than wanting a balanced board.”
For more on the issue, see a Kirkland Patch .