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Addresse unknown: Councilman Sven Goldmanis’ Island residency is unclear
In a highly unusual move, Mayor Bryan Cairns, served a legal notice to Councilmember Sven Goldmanis last month during a Mercer Island City Council meeting. The notice was to officially inform Goldmanis that he was in violation of city building codes regarding work being performed at a Mercer Island condo.
In April, the city mailed Goldmanis a certified letter to what was believed to be his address in the Landmark Villa condominiums at 3030 80th Ave. S.E. The letter was returned by the post office two weeks later, marked “unclaimed.”
The city had been unable to locate one of their own City Council members.
Goldmanis had been in town when he attended a City Council meeting on April 16, two days before the final notice from the post office was sent to his condo.
In April, city building official Don Cole, tried to contact Goldmanis to inform him that he was past due for an inspection of his renovation project at the Landmark condo. A subsequent e-mail from Cole to the councilman dated June 26, 2007, stated, “Phone calls and two attempts by the city’s Code Compliance Officer via certified mail were not successful” in reaching Goldmanis. After attempting to notify Goldmanis with these methods, the city asked Mayor Cairns to hand Goldmanis the notice at a Council meeting. Copies of the returned envelopes and e-mails were obtained by the Reporter from the city of Mercer Island.
Councilmember Goldmanis refused to speak to a reporter after Monday’s City Council meeting.
Though Goldmanis apparently lives at the Landmark Villa condo now, he is still a registered voter at his former house on 84th Avenue S.E., where he lived with his two daughters and his ex-wife before their divorce in 2004. He has not notified the county elections office of any address changes, an action required by law to maintain public office.
According to Bobbie Egan with the King County Elections office, city councilmembers are required to live at the address where they are registered to vote. Goldmanis must notify the county of his new residence to be a legally registered voter or his council position becomes vacant.
Washington election law RCW 35A.12.050 states vacancies occur from public officials “ceasing to be a legally registered voter of the district, county, city, town, or other municipal or quasi municipal corporation from which he or she shall have been elected or appointed.”
Jeff Even, an elections legal expert with the state attorney general’s office also cited state statutes that require residency for representation.
“There’s a train of statutes regarding residency and vacancy laws,” Even said. “But there’s two parts to addressing them. The simple part that is very clear is that one must remain a resident to maintain public office. The hard part is defining what a resident is.”
It appears that neither fellow City Council members or other city officials are certain where Goldmanis lives.
After his divorce, Goldmanis listed his address at 2929 76th Ave. S.E. King County records indicate that the condo was sold by the couple to a relative of his former wife, Elizabeth Insinger, in October 2003. In May 2006, a paycheck sent to that address from the city was returned marked, “Return to sender, unable to forward.”
The Reporter was unable to determine where Goldmanis lived between the time he lived at at the condominium at 2929 76th Ave. S.E. in 2003 or 2004 until the purchase of the Landmark Villa condo in December 2005. The condo, purchased for $310,000, is now listed for sale for $710,000.
His company, Villa NW, located in Bellevue, is listed as the owner of the Landmark condo. (It is not associated with the Landmark Villa Condominiums.) The business is also listed as the owner of another condo in Bellevue purchased in January. That condo is also undergoing a renovation.
The councilman has used different addresses at different times. While a few documents show the Landmark condo as his place of residence, his business license filed with the Washington secretary of state’s corporations division lists his home and Bellevue business address as one and the same. Court documents regarding a lawsuit filed against Goldmanis late last year, were sent to both the Landmark condo and his company office in Bellevue. Another related lawsuit filed in April 2006, sent the rulings again to Goldmanis’ Bellevue office and to Mercer Island City Hall.
Beyond the present issue with the city of Mercer Island over building permit requirements, Goldmanis has had other legal issues over the past couple of years.
After his divorce, Goldmanis repeatedly violated a restraining order requested by his ex-wife. In August 2006, he was arrested by Redmond Police for insurance fraud. According to police records, Goldmanis was wearing a watch that appeared to be similar to one reported stolen in the insurance fraud case. In February, however, King County prosecutors declined to press charges.
In 1999, Goldmanis began constructing a 1,230-square foot dock in Mason County at a vacation home on Mason Lake without obtaining the required permits. County officials there immediately issued a work-stop order and Goldmanis lost the appeal.
When he was questioned by Redmond Police last August, Goldmanis listed the Landmark condo address as his place of residence. However, he was reluctant to give his address during the investigation two years earlier. In documents obtained from the Redmond Police Department, Goldmanis refused to give a current address during an interview with a Safeco Insurance investigator in June 2004, stating his address was “irrelevant.”
Goldmanis was elected to the Mercer Island City Council in 1999. His term expires in December. He did not file to run for reelection.
Records provided by the city indicate that Goldmanis’ official address remains 2929 76th Ave. S.E. According to city clerk Ali Spietz, city councilmembers are not required to maintain updated addresses with the city.