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Emmer to step down from Vashon's community council board

Hilary Emmer plans to step down from the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council
Hilary Emmer plans to step down from the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council's board once a replacement for Mary Shackelford has been found. Shackelford resigned earlier in December.
— image credit: File Photo

Citing animosity among board members and their obsession with procedural rules, Hilary Emmer announced Monday that she’s stepping down from the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council’s board of directors.

Emmer, the board’s treasurer, has been on the board for nearly three years. Her decision comes one week after Mary Shackelford, newly elected to the board, also announced she was stepping down. Emmer said she'll step down once Shackelford's replacement is appointed.

Emmer, a well-known Island activist, stuck with the board through the vicissitudes of the last year. When the nine-member board resigned en masse in July, Emmer rescinded her decision a few weeks later, saying she believed the board needed some continuity.

She ran for election in November and was one of the top vote-getters.

But in a recent interview, Emmer said she can’t tolerate the board’s latest direction, which has been marred, she said, by animosity, personal attacks and an over-emphasis on Robert’s Rules of Order.

In e-mails to her, for instance, newly elected board member Bill Rowling said Emmer’s decision to stay on the board after others had resigned was an effort to “seize total control.” When she objected to that characterization, he sent her another e-mail saying she was “bullying” the board.

Rowling’s comments, she said, “are totally uncalled for. ... I don’t want to work with a group that is rude.”

Rowling said he sent the e-mails to Emmer because he believed she was seizing control when she rescinded her resignation, making her, for a couple of months, the sole board member. “She was going to boss everyone and bully us with the bylaws,” he said, referring to earlier meetings.

Emmer disagreed with that characterization, as did others who attended the board meetings during the period when she was the only board member.

Chris Beck, a former board member who resigned in July, said Emmer decided to remain on the board out of her personal sense of responsibility and her determination to “finalize her duties as treasurer.”

“Frankly, I think she kept (the board) alive and had the strength of belief that others of us did not have and was not intimidated, as others of us were,” Beck said.

In her resignation letter, Emmer expressed disappointment with the current board, now chaired by Jake Jacobovitch.

“This community council has lost its way,” she wrote. “I am not proud of the direction we are headed.”

Shackelford, in her resignation announcement, also expressed dismay over what she saw as a rigid adherence to Robert’s Rules.

The board is currently seeking Shackelford’s replacement. Jacobovitch said he hopes to have the board vote on her replacement at its Jan. 3 meeting. As of Tuesday, however, no one had applied for the position.

Jacobovitch, meanwhile, said he's disappointed that Emmer plans to resign.

"I would have liked for her to stay because she has a lot of experience with the processes of the community council and took on a lot of efforts. All those efforts will have to be replaced by others," he said.

"She needs to be thanked for keeping the community council going, under not the best conditions and with a lot of people questioning her," he added. "If she had resigned also, there would have been no board, and it would have been difficult, not impossible, but difficult to resurrect the organization again."

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