On Monday, October 28, just a week shy of the November 5 City Council elections, Ward 6 resident Rebecca Le appeared before Council to share about an incident between herself and Councilor Michael McLaughlin that she says took place over the summer.
In an October 2 email to Council, she alleges that in early August, Councilor McLaughlin approached her residence and removed two campaign signs of his opponent Al Lattanzi from her property without her permission, a claim McLaughlin denies.
Le told this reporter that she was inspired to speak to Council in person after reading the councilor’s version of the incident in the October 9 edition of the Independent, which she said was untrue.
Le told the Independent that she has no connection to Lattanzi other than meeting him while he was out campaigning in her neighborhood and allowing him to place two (now four) campaign signs in her yard. She said that no one encouraged her to send the email or to appear before Council.
Le also said she is not the kind of person who would normally raise a complaint.
“I’m a very quiet person and I never bother anybody,” she said. “I just wanted people to know what [Councilor McLaughlin] did.”
Councilor Anthony DiPierro, who manages Lattanzi’s election campaign, presented an item asking that the Committee on Legislative Affairs and Elections convene an executive session to look into the complaint. Both Councilors DiPierro and McLaughlin are members on that committee.
Council approved the request, while Councilor McLaughlin recused himself from the vote.
“Everyone has the right to be heard,” said Councilor DiPierro. “If we don’t police ourselves, who will? I just want the process to play out.”
The session would include Le, any other witnesses to the alleged incident, Councilor McLaughlin and the City Solicitor. Committee members would have the chance to investigate the veracity and consistency of the plaintiff’s claims, as well as her personal credibility.
Both Councilor McLaughlin and Le told the Independent that they would be happy to participate in the executive session in order to bring the truth to light.
The councilor said he was grateful that his colleague had presented the item.
“It gives me the opportunity to clear my name and to protect my reputation in Everett, which is strong,” he said. “I’m pleased that we can talk about it.”
The executive session will likely take place after next week’s elections, which will allow the process to play out independently of any political motivations. Councilor McLaughlin will remove himself as a committee member for that session in order to avoid any conflict of interests.
“If the case is true, apologize and move on,” Councilor DiPierro told the Independent. “Maybe it didn’t happen. Let’s figure it out and find out who’s telling the truth.”